Episode 47: On Wild Horses, How the Horse Shaped U.S. History & Storytelling with Julia Soplop (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 47: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet author and photographer Julia Soplop. You'll learn ...
Watch Julia Soplop's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Julia Soplop
Julia Soplop is a writer and documentary-style photographer whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She has a master’s in medical journalism and loves delving into just about any subject and figuring out how to bring it to life through words or images.
Julia’s new book, Equus Rising: How the Horse Shaped U.S. History, was released on May 14, 2020.
Julia didn’t grow up around horses, and if you’d told her four years ago that she would write a book about them, she wouldn’t have believed you. But she has a lifelong fascination with documenting animal behavior that’s taken her around the globe. So when her young daughters begged to start riding lessons and life began to revolve around the barn, it was the horses’ behavior that first drew Julia in. Curiosity piqued, she dove into the girls’ horse books to learn more. What began innocently as light reading escalated into amassing a collection of horse literature; dashing around the country to photograph wild horses; and ultimately, writing Equus Rising.
Julia is a mom of three girls, a home educator, and an introvert with a terrible case of wanderlust.
Julia Soplop Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: You are a writer and photographer whose work has has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic. Tell us a little bit about how your journey with this book began.
Julia: I have always been interested in documenting the world around me. When I was six I started writing a lot and when I was seven I got my first camera for a present. I've pretty much been a writer and photographer for my whole life. I've also always had an interest in the sciences.
I spent a lot of time during my schooling and early in my career traveling around documenting animal behavior. I have this long-standing interest in biology and in documenting nature, so that sort of led me to to horses in a non-traditional way. I wasn't a horse person really growing up. I was never really bitten by the bug besides a few weeks of riding at summer camp. I started to get interested in horses through seeing my first wild horses ever and then my daughters also started writing lessons.
Carly: Tell us about why you decided to write Equus Rising: How the Horse Shaped U.S. History.
Julia: I have all these experiences watching wild horses, photographing them, and then being around the barn. Seeing horses made me very curious about them. At the same time my girls were accumulating all these horse books. We're all big readers and I started reading books with them and just digging deeper.
We also home school and I decided that I wanted to put together a unit study about U.S. history. I realized, in conjunction with reading these horse books, that we could sort of frame our study of U.S. history around the horse and around what role the horse played. The horse was not a bit character in our country's history but was actually a driving force.
I started digging in more and putting together this unit study for my girls, but I realized that I was on to something bigger. There are great books about wild horses, horse care, and about the Civil War, but I wasn't finding things all in one convenient package. There was a good narrative here after I put it together for my daughters. I compiled it into a book for adults, young adults, or teens. That's how the project started.
Carly: Would you give us a brief summary of what the book covers?
Julia: Beginning fifty-five million years ago with the evolution of the horse across the Great Plains, this story charts its extinction in North America, followed by its reintroduction to the continent by the Spanish. The eventual acquisition of Spanish horses by the native peoples of the plains had profound consequences for the continent’s future: it resulted in the explosion of wild horses across the West and unleashed some of the most talented and brutal mounted warriors in the world, the Comanche, who staved off European-American development of the plains for nearly two centuries. From there, the story tracks the horse’s incredible contributions—through warring and racing and hauling, through companionship and servitude and strength—across the broad arc of the country’s next three hundred years.
Equus Rising weaves together science, policy, literature, and history to trace the fascinating story of how one animal shaped the nation. It features spectacular pen and ink illustrations by Montana artist Robert Spannring and is interspersed with my own photography as well as maps and sidebars to add further depth to the account.
Carly: Were there surprising historical facts that you uncovered during your research?
Julia: There were so many interesting things that I was really surprised by. My first goal was to tell the story of the horse, show how important of a character they were, and how many roles they played throughout history, but as that was happening I realized that using the horse as a narrative thread gave me the opportunity to discuss and introduce character figures in history who are often left out of traditional histories, like women and like people of color. That the horse could help me to explore the experiences of different people, not just the standard players in history the people and the victors, was really special.
Connect with Julia Soplop
Books by Julia Soplop
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About Your Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's award-winning In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!