Alexandra Layos just started her sophomore year at William Woods University, but she has already written three books and has been writing for a respected equestrian magazine since she was 9.
Both a writer and an equestrian, Allie says it was, in fact, writing that first drew her to William Woods, the school she had heard about since she was a young child.
Layos, of New Tripoli, Pa., had been writing a monthly column called the Junior Jumble for the international show horse magazine Saddle & Bridle since she was 9. She visited William Woods at 14 for a series of articles about colleges with strong academic and equestrian programs.
That series is only one example of the many interviews she did as a young teen, traveling all over the United States.
“I was lucky to have parents who were supportive of my writing, and were willing to take me places for interviews when I was still too young to drive,” Layos said.
But her writing career was only beginning. Her real dream was to write and publish her own series of children’s horse books, based in the saddle seat world.
“I was a horse-loving kid who also loved reading,” said Layos. “There were many books for kids who were interested in racing or jumping, but there was never a saddle seat fiction series. I wanted to write one.”
When she was 14, with the encouragement of her family and the inspiration of her best friend, a Morgan named Astonishinglee whom she’d lost the year before, Layos finished her first novel. She called it “The Missing Link,” and it was the first in her series called Blue Ribbon Days.
“Blue Ribbon Days is the series I wish I would have had as a kid,” explained Layos. “And horse kids seem to really love them. It makes me so happy to hear from young equestrians how much they can relate to the books; they’re the ones I wrote them for.”
She followed up with “Timeless” and “An Almost True Horse Tale,” a children’s picture book.
Besides her own books, Layos has published stories in numerous other publications. She also has been in demand as a speaker for youth groups, libraries, summer camps, schools and writers’ guilds.
Layos credits her writing abilities to her years in Catholic school, her love of reading, her wonderful teachers, parents and, of course, her inspiration—her horses. But Layos credits most of her opportunities to one very special man.
“Mr. Jeffrey Thompson, editor and publisher of Saddle & Bridle Magazine, has given me so many great opportunities. He had an incredible amount of faith in me…more than I could have had in someone who was that young.”
At WWU, Layos is double majoring in equestrian science and journalism, and she works in the University Relations office.
At 18, she is now on the board of editors for Saddle & Bridle Magazine, and writes a monthly column about the equestrian activities at William Woods. She will continue to work on her series of books, and at the moment is “just enjoying being a college student.”