First-time novelist strikes gold with a horse story for young people

Author Vivien Gorham
Years of honing her craft has led to the publication of Vivien Gorham's fist novel "A Touch of Gold"
Author Vivien Gorham
Years of honing her craft has led to the publication of Vivien Gorham’s fist novel “Touch of Gold”


Dartmouth’s Vivien Gorham is a busy woman. She works in a medical library and loves horseback riding, swimmimg, cross-country skiing, hiking, walking her dog Niska, reading and listening to a lot of music.

On top of that, she has found time to write a novel for young people called Touch of Gold that was inspired by Gorham’s love of horses.

Read on to find out more about Touch of Gold‘s journey from idea to published book.


Tell us a little about the plot for Touch of Gold:

It’s a story about the bond that develops between a girl and a horse, and how that bond changes them, and eventually the people around them. Ultimately, it helps free them to pursue their passions, whatever they may be.

Thirteen-year-old Jamie Francis is facing a lonely summer. She’s just moved with her mother to the rural town of River Bend, Nova Scotia, following her parents’ divorce, and she hasn’t made any friends. But one day, Jamie meets a neglected horse in a field: a palomino she names Peach.

Jamie soon learns from the horse’s widowed owner that Peach is being sold to Valerie Scott, the forbidding owner of nearby Tamarack Stables. To stay close to Peach, Jamie offers to pitch in around the barn, and becomes enchanted with the world of competitive horseback riding–especially show jumping. She also gets to know Valerie’s teenage sons, fiery, red-headed Nick and cool, handsome Paul, as well as Naomi, a popular girl from school. But all three of them have been riding and showing for years, and Jamie isn’t sure she’ll ever fit in. If only she could ride Peach….


Where did the idea for the story come from?

The idea for this story was born when I returned to riding after a 20-year hiatus. I had ridden throughout my childhood and teen years, but stopped when I went away to university, and I didn’t start again until my daughter Amie began riding lessons around age ten. When we both started jumping—always my favourite part of riding—the neglected show jumper, Peach, just popped into my head one day. Then the lonely girl, Jamie, showed up on her bike and stopped to pat the horse, and the story took off from there.


How long have you been working on the manuscript?

I completed a much shorter version about 12 years ago, and when I couldn’t get it published I shoved it in the proverbial bottom drawer of my desk, where it sat for four years. I called it my “learning how to write a novel” novel. Then my wonderful writers group persuaded me to pull it out and try again. I changed the setting from the US Midwest, where I grew up, to Nova Scotia, where I’ve lived for over 25 years, chopped off most of the beginning, added a large chunk to the middle, and completely changed the ending. Fourteen drafts later I submitted the manuscript again, and it was picked up and polished by the fantastic team at Nimbus Publishing.


Tell us about the time between submitting the manuscript to publishers to finding out it had been accepted for publication:

I submitted the first three chapters to five publishers, and three of them wrote back asking for the full manuscript. Then I waited for a few months before emailing the three for an update. They all wrote back to say they loved the story and the manuscript was making the rounds through the editorial team. I waited another two or three months, then came home from a vacation in PEI to find several messages from Penelope Jackson, then children’s editor at Nimbus, on the phone. So I immediately called her back, but she wasn’t available. After a few more games of phone tag, she finally reached me and offered to publish my book.


Are you working on another book?

Yes, I’m about 50 pages into another children’s horse story, this time set at a fictional horse camp in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. The working title is Summerwood, the name of the stable, and it involves horses, history, and a touch of mystery. I’m hoping I won’t need to go through 14 drafts this time!


The public is invited to the launch of Touch of Gold  –

Where: Tattletales Bookstore, 569 Portland Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

When: Saturday October 3rd from 2-4pm

What: A reading, book signing, snacks, and giveaways.

*Book sales will be matched by a donation to Integrity’s Haven Equine Rescue Centre in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia*

You can buy Touch of Gold from Tattletales, Woozles, Bookmark, and other independent booksellers in the Maritimes, as well as Chapters/Indigo/Coles, Amazon, and bookstores throughout Canada. (It will be available in the US and online around the world in February 2016.) You can also purchase it directly from Nimbus Publishing.