Author Guest Post: Jill Hand's; The Blue Horse
|The Blue Horse|
I'd like to welcome author Jill Hand to my blog today. She discusses her book The Blue Horse below. Enjoy...
Sometimes the perfect plot for a novel appears from out of nowhere, like a golden gift from the gods of fiction. That’s what happened with The Blue Horse, now available from Kellan Publications.
I happened to stumble on the amazing true story of the blue horse while poking around online. I was reading about the giant black cats that pop up every now and then in places where there shouldn’t be any panther-like beasts prowling around. They turn up in the UK as well as in the States, startling the people who see them before vanishing as suddenly as they appear.
These ebony-furred felines are among the ranks of cryptids, improbable creatures – sometimes seemingly impossible creatures, like the Jersey Devil or Spring-heeled Jack -- that have been seen but never captured.
The Blue Horse centers on an improbable creature whose existence was firmly documented. It was discovered in South Africa in 1860, peacefully grazing with a herd of quagga, a subspecies of zebra. The fact that it was blue in color and completely without hair was utterly bizarre. To this day, nobody is certain what it was or where it came from.
It was shipped to England, where it ended up in the hands of a fabulously wealthy man named George Harry Booth-Gray, 7th Earl of Stamford. Sir George was master of the Quorn Hunt and rode his new acquisition to go fox hunting.
Research is one of the most enjoyable things about writing, in my opinion. In this case, the more I read about Sir George the more I was intrigued by him. He was the type of delightfully dotty upper-class Englishman who flourished during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. By all accounts, he preferred playing cricket and betting on the horses to attending his classes at Cambridge University’s Trinity College. Scholarship disagreed with him to the point that he left after only one year, having shocked everybody by marrying the daughter of his bedder. (Bedders were servants who took care of the students’ rooms.)
Sir George again flouted convention when he married a circus bareback rider after his first wife died. The lady, the former Kitty Cocks, wasn’t the sort of person whom an Earl was supposed to marry. It was bad enough that she’d been in the circus, but the fact that she had been the mistress of a notorious playboy caused a tremendous scandal.
Sir George, his blue horse and the scandalous Lady Kitty were such fascinating characters that I decided I had to put them into a book, in this case a factasy – part fact, part fantasy. In it, the horse of a different color becomes the object of a quest by a trio of unlikely time travelers from the future who’ve been assigned to go to 1863, acquire the horse, and bring it back with them to the future.
The time travelers work for a twenty-fourth-century enterprise that’s in the business of time travel tourism. Its employees have been rescued from various disasters and sticky situations in the past. Rosina, the narrator, was involved in a railway accident in 1889. Her fiancé, Ned York, was imprisoned in the Tower of London by his uncle, Richard III. Their companion, Olga, comes from imperial Russia, having been rescued from circumstances that she prefers not to talk about.
Like any coworkers, Rosina, Ned and Olga and their colleagues have office romances. They complain about the job and have petty grievances. Olga is irascible and has gotten repeated warnings about her bad attitude, all of which she ignores. Ned is a charming layabout who likes to talk about his encounters with various notable characters throughout history. Level-headed, practical Rosina tries to keep them both in line, but she doesn’t always succeed.
Research again came in handy in describing two of the places the time travelers visit while throwing a bachelor party for one of their colleagues that takes them to 1893 Paris: the infamous Café of Hell and the lesser-known but equally weird Cabaret of Nothingness. Both places are long gone by now, but there are pictures of them online. They’re well worth a look.
The Blue Horse was tremendous fun to write. It has all the elements I like to see in a good story: adventure, romance, lots of laughs and a few tears. It’s available for $3.99 in PDF, EPUB and MOBI format for e-book readers or $19 for paperback from the Kellan Publishing Bookstore website: www.bookstore.kellanpublishing.com.
You can find me on Facebook as Jill Hand, where I’ll be holding a contest to give away a signed, paperback copy along with other swag.