Welcome back everyone. Hope you had a great holiday season. Today my guest blogger Kristen Walker talks about how she learned about horses so she could write about them for her novel A Flight of Marewings.
Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke’s illegitimate daughter who must stop her father’s murderers–by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers.
Writing About Horses Secondhand
When I was a little girl, I loved horses better than anything else. I read every book at the library with a horse on the cover, from Black Beauty to The Red Pony. I collected horse figures and put up posters of horses on my walls. I begged and begged my parents for riding lessons. But my parents said no to riding both for financial and safety reasons, and I had to content myself with looking at horses from afar. Now fast forward a few decades to today and my passion for horses hasn’t really diminished, but I find myself with almost no firsthand experiences with horses.
So writing a book about horses would be crazy, right? I must be crazy, because I was determined not to let my personal lack of knowledge stand in my way. I knew that I wanted to write about marewings (my magical half-horse, half-demon creatures) in a way that would be instantly recognizable to anyone who knew horses. I had to find a way to fake it. Here’s how I did it.
1. Academic research Before the internet, I checked out books at the library. Today, information on everything from grooming to breeding to training horses is only a Google search away. I knew that I had to double-check my facts, because the fictional horses I’d read about could be the products of artistic license or author ignorance. (Fantasy novels are known for a phenomenon called the “motorcycle horse”, where the hero rides all over the fantasy map without stopping to take care of or feed his poor horse–treating them just like a convenient motorcycle!) While I couldn’t find real world information about winged horses, I wanted to base my marewings’ behavior on real horses as close as I could. Accounts of catching and taming wild horses were very important, because catching a marewing is a focal point of my novel.
2. Talking to experienced riders Again, the internet came in handy here, because I don’t know many horse riders personally. But online, there are experienced riders who were happy to answer my questions. And I really loved finding blogs where owners and riders talk about their daily experiences with their horses. They’re full of anecdotes and insights that can only come from hands-on time. Without stories of my own, I could read the stories of others. These were huge for illustrating the special bond between a horse and rider that have worked together for a long time.
3. Watching Horses When I was younger, I used to walk to the bus stop for school, and I passed a paddock with an old gray gelding named Sunny. I could spend hours standing there just watching him. I’ve also been to visit horse ranches and watch other riders work with their horses. There are also great documentaries, and even videos on YouTube that show horse behavior. (Not Hollywood movies, though, because those can be just as wrong as books!) Nothing substitutes for real experience, but we can’t always try everything that we want to write about. The internet makes research easier. And even when you have some experience, it doesn’t hurt to check for things you may not know. And maybe someday I will have the chance to get to know a horse a little better, and write about the experience. I look forward to that day.
Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?
Available at: http://www.amazon.com/B00HMTRAJQ/ and other eBook retailers
To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen’s pirate pictures, please visit kristenwalker.net.
You can talk good books, cats, or medieval cooking with Kristen anytime on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.