Monday, July 8, 2013

Deanie's Interview with Deb Hockenberry

Today we’re sitting down to chat with Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. Deanie is the author of four children’s books. Today we’re going to ask Deanie about her series of books about Charlene the Star. Welcome, Deanie!
Thank you so much for inviting me to speak with you today, Deb. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Where did you get the idea for the Charlene the Star books?
I thought that it would be fun for children to read stories told from Charlene’s point of view, so that they could read about her amusing thoughts and actions.  I had briefly introduced Charlene in my second book, Charlie the Horse, because she’s Charlie’s little sister. The Charlene the Star series actually started with Charlie’s adventures.
It must’ve been very lonely for Charlene the Star to be sent off to Sweetbriar Racing Stables at such a young age. Why was she sent there?
In real life, horses are often sent away for training, so it was natural for me to have the same thing happen to Charlene. I named the stable Sweetbrier because I wanted a connection to the farm where I grew up, called Sweetbrier School of Equitation.
I hope I’m not giving away any spoilers but Charlene is sent to Jumping For Joy Farms after going to Sweetbriar Racing Stables. Can you tell us why?
 I thought it would be a normal part of the training process for her to be sent to a stable that specializes in training jumpers. This sort of thing often actually happens when you are planning to have a horse trained.
Charlene is very encouraging for kids today. By that I mean she’s determined to practice until she gets it right and isn’t disappointed when she realize that she’s not cut out to be a race horse. She seems to know that everyone has different gifts or talents. Did you intend for the Charlene stories to show this?
Yes, it was my intention to show children that it’s okay to have different abilities, so that they realize they are all special and unique, regardless of their God-given gifts. Charlene’s actions also show that hard work and perseverance are keys to success.

In the book Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, you show what a true friend is. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

In this story, Charlene is already becoming famous for her abilities, but she is looking for something special to do in her spare time.  She meets new friends, Hattie and Wooliam, who  work with her to create a wonderful new career. They show the value of friendship, caring for one another, and working to make your dreams become a reality. They have creative solutions for their problems and they even amaze themselves.

Did you grow up around horses? I imagine you had a wonderful childhood if you did.
 Yes, I grew up at a riding school.  I had an exciting childhood with lots of challenges and surprising events.  My first book detailed some of the experiences, but perhaps we can discuss that another time.

Is it common to put other animals in the same stall with a horse? I would think it would teach children another important lesson, tolerance for people who are different from you.
It does happen on occasion, particularly with race horses. If the horses are very nervous, they often are given a special companion to keep them content. Sometimes horses do form an attachment with other horses or other animals. The Charlene the Star series does teach tolerance as well. For example, Charlene’s friends, Shy Ann and Blossom, love racing, but they remain her friends, even after she pursues a different path. They are also friendly with Elliott, the dog with the oversized head. All of the animals recognize Elliott’s talents, too.  In reality, Elliott is our family pet and he appears on the covers of both books.                   

When Charlene goes home for vacation, she meets Lily. Lily is afraid of everything, but Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes are patient with Lily and get her over her fears. Did you realize you were teaching another lesson?
Yes, I meant to show that it’s common for everyone to have fears of some sort. But  fears can be overcome if you really dedicate yourself to conquering them. I think that extremely courageous people act, in spite of being afraid.

Will there be more Charlene the Star books?
Yes, my sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, creates amazing illustrations for our books. We’re working on the illustrations for a new book called Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. We expect it will be released later this year.

Where can people purchase your books?
My books are available on,, or you may email me at: and we can arrange for you to purchase signed copies directly from me.  In the near future, you will be able to purchase signed copies from my website,

Thank you Deanie, for sitting down and chatting with us today!


  1. Interesting author interview!

  2. Thank you, Suzanne! It was fun to do this interview. Deb will be posting a review of Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes and Charlene the Star soon.