Multi-genre author, Claire Eckard, is back on Writer with Wanderlust to talk about her latest novel and the challenges of writing a children’s book about the sport of endurance racing.
Endurance riding (or racing) is a sport where a horse and rider need to complete a long-distance cross-country ride within a specified finish time. There are multiple vet checks along the way, and the sport is open to any equine over the age of four (for limited distance rides of twenty-five miles) or five (for fifty-mile rides or longer). Rides are held all over the United States and the main organization associated with endurance is called the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC.og).
I have been involved with endurance for almost twenty years as a rider, volunteer and as support crew for my husband who is very competitive! The sport is fascinating because there are so many aspects to it; the bond between horse and human, the strategy of competing; the logistics of getting to the rides, camping and feeding both horse and humans! Also, depending on the riders goal the experience can be very different. For competitive riders who are trying to ride toward the front of the pack, place in the top ten and garner points within the organization, the experience will be very different from the rider who just wants to complete the ride within the designated time frame and enjoy the countryside and the companionship they find along the way.
With fiction, I am not looking to give the reader a ‘lesson’ in the sport, I want to emotionally pull them into the thick of it…
The process of writing about the sport relies on being aware of the various dynamics that go into the sport. There are plenty of “how to” books which, I imagine, have taken a very systematic approach to the writing about the sport. With fiction, I am not looking to give the reader a ‘lesson’ in the sport, I want to emotionally pull them into the thick of it by having them experience it through the eyes and the heart of the character, whether that character is human or equine! In Gallant, The Call of The Trail I told the story from the viewpoints of four characters: two human and two equines. This allowed me to show a range of experiences within the sport. I also wanted to be cognoscente of the fact that this book needed to appeal to a much broader reader base than just those involved or interested in endurance, so I worked to find a balance to satisfy and entertain the reader who knew and loved the sport, as well as those who just wanted to read a good story that happened to be set in the endurance world. Hopefully I achieved that!
From a research standpoint, I already knew the sport well. What I needed to put time into researching was the actual ride courses that I had never ridden. I did that by interviewing ride managers, riders who had completed the ride (often multiple times), looking at ride maps and in some cases watching utube video’s riders had taken while competing. I tried to stay true to the actual ride as it is in real life, but I did take some artistic license if I needed to move the story along.
Gallant, The Call of The Trail was an absolute pleasure to write. I am so excited to see both the professional reviewers and readers giving such positive feedback to this book. I hope that any reader interested in the bond between animals and humans, and most especially horses, will find themselves drawn into this emotional story and stay with it throughout the trilogy!
For more information about Claire Eckard and her latest book, visit Book Review + Giveaway: Gallant, The Call of the Trail.