History Hoydens

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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

09 October 2008


"The color, vibrancy, and excitement of the Middle Ages allow Dennis to create a memorable tale of two people whose destiny is tied to a mystical colt. Dennis tells her story with passion, drama, and a love of animals that will enthrall readers."
--- 4 Stars! Romantic Times Reviews

"...a great read for lovers of horses, romance and history."
--- Top Pick! ParaNormalRomance.org

“I've never been one to get excited about animals in books, but this one grabbed my heart. I felt the pain of Sybilla when her choices are taken away with her horse and the agony of Sir Guy's guilt in his sister's death. Their perilous journey and the unusual horse that unites them, makes this tale a keeper.”
--- Publisher's Weekly

Welcome, History Hoyden Kathrynn Dennis! Your second book, SHADOW RIDER (Kensington, Oct 7, 2008) hit the stands this week. Tell us, what do you do as an author the first week your newest release goes on sale?

I eat way too much chocolate and spend way too much time checking and rechecking my email. And oh yeah, I surf the net. A lot. ;-)

That’s what it’s like I think, for most authors until they have a few under their belts (books I mean, not drinks).

So tell us, where did you get the idea for this unusual medieval romance? The plot involves a “lost and vengeful knight, a horse midwife, castle intrigue, and a colt that barks . . .” to paraphrase a reviewer. How did you come up with that?

I eat too much chocolate and drink too much—just kidding. ;-)

I’m a horse veterinarian and you know what they say …“write what you know.” So, I drew on experience and thought “what if” a foal born in the 13th century was affected by a real-life neurological condition that resulted behavioral abnormalities, made him do strange things like gaze at the stars, sit like dog and bark? Wow. Drop that scenario right into the hey-day (pun intended) of superstition in history—the middle ages. My heroine, of course, is a 13th century horse midwife who delivers the foal and then gets accused of all sorts of misdoings and witchery. She needs a hero. Enter Guy of Warwick, who thinks the “magic” horse is meant for him. He saves them both, but things go down hill from there. Turns out, everybody wants that magic horse. The bad guy in this book is pretty bad (will not tell how for fear of spoilers). I had fun writing him.

You like to say you write “horsetoricals,” all about heroes, heroines, and horses. Is there any story connection between this book and your first, Dark Rider?

Not really, but they are both set in the Middle Ages, have mystic elements and the development horses as characters who are pivotal to the plot. I’ve done a bit of research lately on animals and pets in romance novels and find they run the gambit from decoration, to strong secondary characters who move the story along. In my books, I wrote them to do just that. Also, the kind of animal a character owns tells you a lot about their personality. Writers use this to layer their character’s development. The heroes and heroines in Shadow Rider and in my first book, Dark Rider, are just as pet-owner profiles suggest they would be: male horse-owners are dominant and high in autonomy, aggressive, and less expressive in general. Female horse-owners tend to avoid aggression and are easy going, but limited in cooperativeness and warm human relationships. Sounds like romance heroes and heroines to me!

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into pet-owner profiling, check out Word Wenches tomorrow, where I’ll be blogging on the subject: http://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/.

Thanks everyone. Have a great upcoming weekend!

Kathrynn

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8 Comments:

Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

This sounds utterly delicious, Kathrynn, and I wish you could meet my 13-year-old niece, an enthusiastic rider, writer, and animal-lover, whose life ambition is to be a veterinarian AND a writer. We bought her some James Herriot for her last birthday, and in fact, I'd love to buy her your books, if you don't think they might be too steamy for a 13-year-old (she's a huge Stephanie Meyer fan). What do you think?

10:05 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Kathrynn, congratulations on the release! It sounds like you really let your imagination run wild (pun intended) on this one. You have such a fascinating background, with or without the chocolate, that you can really bring something special to the literary table.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thanks, Pam. Hmmm, I don't know.. Dark Rider and Shadow Rider might be okay, for a 13 year old, but well, maybe not...

How about a copy of a book called ANGEL HORSES...I have a short story in there. It's inspirational stories about horses that would probably appeal.

Tell her to study hard, and find a vet who will let her work for him/her (even for free if necessary) to make sure that's what she really wants to do!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for her!

12:50 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thanks Amanda. I appreciate your kind words. This is a tough business, as I know you know.

Who knows what's next! I'll keep my stethescope!

12:51 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

OMG, I love the idea that you took something that's real (a neurological disorder) and made it into the paranormal aspect of your book. That is so freaken cool!!!

2:29 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Congratulations, Kathryn!! I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I loved the first one. As a horse-crazy girl from the age of nine, your stories appeal to me on so many levels!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Congrats on "Shadow Rider"'s release, Kathrynn! Hope you celebrated! It sounds like a fabulous story--I love the way you wove in your own knowledge and interests. And I love stories about animals!

12:19 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Kathrynn -- congratulations on the release and the great reviews. I with Kalen -- I love the idea that you used a real condition to spark your story.

It will be just the thing to read when I want to avoid writing and chocolate!

5:44 AM  

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