photos by J.R. Gulledge


Diane Lee Wilson Autobiography

I was one horse-crazy kid! Not only did I read every single horse book I could find (Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley being my two favorite authors), I obsessively collected horse figurines on family outings and even made costumes for them. They were my "show and tell" presentation all the way into middle school because I could tie the costumes or breeds into history projects. (A stallion outfitted in aluminum foil became a knight's charger; a paint draped in fringed suede exemplified the mount of an American Indian.)

I tacked horse hair to my bulletin board, drew horses in the margins of all my papers, and on those rare occasions when I actually got to touch a horse, would preserve that wonderful aroma by refusing to wash my hands the rest of the day.

Of course all I wanted was a horse, and I hoped and prayed each December 25 that this would be the year I would find a halter or saddle pad under the tree with a note telling me where to find my new love. My dreams skyrocketed one Christmas morning when my younger brothers came racing into my room to tell me there was something ALIVE under the tree and it was for me! I raced downstairs and found…a guinea pig. Sigh. He was very cute and I named him Bugaboo and he became the sire of many baby guinea pigs who took up residence in my bedroom. But he wasn't a horse. Back to dreaming.

Now, if you're reading this for a school assignment-a "report on the author" sort of thing-you probably want me to get to the particulars, so here they are:

I was born in Champaign, Illinois in 1957 but was raised in Rock Island, Illinois. I have two younger brothers. My father was a veterinarian (small animals, only; no horses-another sigh) but I'm sure I inherited my love of animals and the outdoors from him. My mother always encouraged us to read, and books were the preferred gift for birthdays and holidays.

Upon graduating from high school I attended the University of Iowa where I earned degrees in Fine Arts and English. At the time I wanted to be an illustrator. Every summer during college, though, I worked in Texas at a stable that specialized in training and showing horses. I actually lived in the barn in a converted stall and fell asleep each night listening to the horses move about. At times I was put on "night watch" for a pregnant mare, meaning I had to get up every hour throughout the night and check on her, and that allowed me on more than one occasion to witness a foal being born. Such a privilege!

Although I wanted to be an illustrator, I ended up getting a job as a writer for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and later, for an advertising agency there. I discovered how much I loved crafting words, and I remember the art director saying, "I'll bet you have a book in you." At the time that seemed utterly impossible. How did people go about writing entire books??

Fast forward: I married and moved to San Diego, California in 1986. I continued working as a copywriter but then, when I had my daughter, decided to stay home and raise her. Yet I needed to keep writing. So, when I wasn't changing diapers or playing peek-a-boo, I wrote a few magazine articles and sold them; of course they were about horses. Then I tried short stories, and happily sold one to a children's magazine. Hmmm. Could I tackle a novel?

I decided to try and in about a year and a half completed the book that was eventually named I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade. I was fortunate to find a wonderful agent (thank you, Patty!) who helped me get it published.
I continue to live in the San Diego area and continue to write novels. So far these novels have all been historical fiction because I enjoy researching how horses and history intertwine. With my figurines packed away, I now collect non-fictional books on horses; these are great for research.

In response to the "What is your favorite…?" list of questions: I like sooty colors like blacks and grays; I prefer cats to dogs (though horses are, of course, my favorite animal); Scotland is magical; anything made of dark chocolate sends my taste buds into a frenzy; and one of my favorite authors is Anne Tyler.

If you haven't found the answers to your questions here, you can try the following links:

But perhaps you're still wondering-did she ever get that horse? Yes! When I was thirteen my parents bought me a young gelding (I even took him to college with me) and I've not been without a horse since. Currently I have a retired Arabian show horse (a mare) whose registered name is Smoldering but whose nickname is Sammi. She and I have had many adventures together on the trails and at shows. She is smart and talented, curious and brave, and I trust her completely. She is bossy among other horses but very respectful of people and extremely gentle with children. Her personality and idiosyncrasies have found their way into each of my novels.

Thanks for looking me up. And happy reading.