Fictional horses, just like fictional people, are fun to write. In any form of fiction, the character must have purpose in the story. One might provide comic relief, another moves the story along, a third provides important background information. Of course, every author hopes the reader will not detect any of that kind of story structure, and will simply enjoy the read.
In stereotypical tradition, the protagonist must be good, but flawed. Cat Enright, the lead human character in my horse mysteries, is loyal and loves her four-legged friends, but she has no biological family to speak of and has a teeny problem with anger management. Her sidekicks, Jon, Darcy, and Agnes, provide a voice of reason, youthful sentiment, and wacky fun, not necessarily in that order. Each balances Cat in a different way.
The horses I, or any other author, writes are no different. Gigi, the young filly in my mysteries is the usual scatter-brained young mare who is full of energy, interested in everything, and finds life so much fun! Most of us have had an experience with a young horse like that. Bob is the older, steady-Eddie gelding who might be a little dull, but who never, ever makes a mistake. If he were human, he’d be an accountant. (No offense meant to accountants in general.) Then there is Petey, who likes to grab his lead rope and lead himself back to the barn. He is an adult, but one who likes to grab his fun wherever he can find it. Anyone who has been around horses for a while has known a “babysitter” like Bob and a quirky horse like Petey.
Sally Blue is the lead equine character, and is a young(er) lead mare who is so intuitive that many of the characters in my mysteries think she is psychic. So do a number of readers. Me? I’m not taking a stand either way, because I don’t know for sure. But, many lead mares have that something extra that allows them to keep their herd safe, even when that herd includes just the lead mare and her human partner. But, Sally seems to know about things before they happen. Or, maybe she is just having a good time crossing her legs and blowing all those bubbles in her water bucket.
I love the familiarity of writing cozy mysteries. I love watching my characters grow and develop from one book to the next and have especially enjoyed watching Cat develop her own little family unit of close friends. In my third mystery, The Fame Equation (November 3, 2015), Sally teaches a new horse his place and seems to become frustrated when her human friends do not understand her many odd behaviors. Petey is being taught to pull a cart, Bob finds a new friend, and Gigi is trying very hard not to grow up.
|Sally Blue is on the cover of each Cat Enright mystery.|
My equine characters have not yet told me what will happen in book four, but they have given me a few hints. And that is the big difference, for me, between writing fiction and nonfiction. These characters get into my brain and direct the story far more (and far better) than I do. Other authors have told me the same thing happens to them when they write fiction. But authors everywhere, myself included, hope their characters also get into the readers’ heads. We all hope readers will think about the characters, horse or human, long after the last word has been read. When that happens, author and character alike have done their jobs.