Episode 90: On Aging as an Author, Facing Rejection & The Prison System with Karen S. Bennett (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 90: 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 Karen S. Bennett. You'll learn ...
Watch Karen S. Bennett's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio version.
About Karen S. Bennett
As a kid who was always busy with some creative pursuit, it was obvious that Karen Bennett knew she would grow up to be some sort of artist. When she wasn’t drawing or babysitting, she competed in swimming and diving events, winning a few medals. Years later, she wrote about it.
As a teen, Karen purchased a cello from her babysitting earnings, started lessons, and shortly became an orchestra musician. She attended art school in NYC and found work as a boardwalk charcoal-portrait artist. She continued playing in orchestras and making art, of one form or another, into adulthood. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Karen gravitated to the written word, later documenting experiences and crafting narratives—if only for herself.
After retirement, Karen wrote about her years of marriage, raising three children, and going through divorce (and annulment). Her life story wended its way through trials and triumphs, from being on welfare to returning to school and becoming a nurse practitioner: a career that lasted over three decades. As an NP, Karen worked in jails and prisons, including New York’s infamous Rikers Island Jail.
Her most distant travels took her to St. Petersburg, South Africa, and Vietnam. Karen continues singing, baking, and writing, writing, writing about her diverse experiences. From humble and happy beginnings in Pennsylvania, Karen finds herself in humble and happy surroundings in Baltimore, Maryland.
Winning the occasional award—and getting published—has given Karen the push to finally call herself, at last: a writer.
Karen S. Bennett Interview Excerpt
Carly: How have horses touched your life?
Karen: There was no way I’d ever get a horse. We lived in a town house and we three girls had to campaign to have a cat. It interests me how one family member can be so tuned-in to animals when the other family members are not. So, as a kid, I drew horses until I went to art school in NYC and started to draw nudes!
Carly: Tell us about your book Beautiful Horseflesh.
Karen: This is the story in 1999, of a loving family, unaware they are pulled into inescapable treachery and crime. The business owner of the Smitt's Water Walk Farm is Patrizia Smitt, a mom, busy with her family and keeping the bill collectors from her door after the death of her husband two years earlier.
Luis, her 18 year-old son wants to contribute to the family’s finances by selling his valuable baseball cards. Sixteen-year-old Miranda’s world is her mandolin, her hair and beauty. Family politics are never worse than occasional teenaged rebellion until Bud Coleman, a handsome trainer and his fast, beautiful Thoroughbred, Bumble B, arrive from Maryland to make ready for a high stakes race in one week’s time.
Bud insists on strict privacy in grooming his horse. His temper is hot and so is his attention to Miranda. He is rough and aggressive toward Luis who mistakenly tries to help with the management of the filly. Bud is a drinker and when he eventually makes an inebriated confession to Luis, his words are too slurred to be understood.
Luis has help in this drama from a willing young newspaper reporter sent out to Smitt’s Water Walk Farm to cover Bumble B, the “sure thing” to win the race. Luis’s best friend, and Miranda’s fast becoming ex-boyfriend, Baxter, is also on hand through Luis’s trial and eventually to join the race to the track to apprehend Bud Coleman.
The story takes place before cell phones and personal computers were everywhere and owned by everyone, which adds to the frustration of today’s reader who is impatient without immediate information at one’s fingertips. Because this crime story has elements of mystery, I am reluctant to share more of the plot.
Carly: What inspired you to write this book?
Karen: I was intrigued by a writing prompt where we students were to assigned to write about a very bad thing happening in a barn without mentioning the barn. A full movie, set in a barn, with night’s muted lights, and sorrowful back ground music started in my head.
Luis, half of him standing below the floor boards of the barn and his top half-leaning on the floor, was bent forward, crying, and out of his mind with the pain of his broken arm. He struggled to think how he could hide this crime from his mother.
If she were to learn the truth, she’d stop the upcoming race and lose the large amount of money promised to her by Bumble B’s victory on the race track. In addition to the above vision, I’d recently learned about aqua therapy for horses, and coincidentally learned about the true rarity of two live twin Thoroughbreds surviving birth, and the book was born.
Carly: Is there a message in the book you hope readers will grasp?
Karen: Be good. Luis shares the protagonist role with Bumble B in this book. Luis is a good kid who is honest, works hard and reaps a good life. This author was encouraged by readers to give him a flaw. But the truth is, I’m tired of flaws and disrespect and bad behavior and I celebrate a boy who was out of his depth but persisted against adversity to help his family.
Ultimately I gave Luis a bad temper, but apologize for that. He apologizes for it too and works on his temper.
Carly: What do you think stands out about your book?
Karen: This is a unique story told by me. I did not write by a recipe because I don’t read crime novels, nor YA novels, and I don’t read thrillers, nor mysteries, or romances, so when the story came rushing into my head, I wrote it.
Luis, didn’t make rational decisions when he was in the heat and pain of temporarily solving his dilemma in the barn at midnight, but he thought of his mother and made the best decision he could make. The book is raw, and I hope well written. I am proud of this story.
Carly: Do you prefer independent or traditional publishing?
Karen: I understand that Indie publishing is becoming more popular. It has, so far been an up-hill effort on the part of Indie presses, although they are showing greater acceptance among authors. I self-published “The Farewell Tour,” a book that was fraught with internal errors in type, margins, and with words running together. I took the book down, sent it to another editor, paid plenty and was rewarded with similar errors.
Although I initially marketed the book, I stopped the marketing and waited until my traditionally published book was done, hired a new editor to make the repairs and resubmitted the self-published book again.
My experience with the Traditional publishing was painless, although I felt apart from some of the work due to COVID’s rules about people working from home, not the office. I could have used lunch or “coffee” with the traditional team to clarify things that were new to me. As mentioned in other writing, the publisher was only eleven miles from my home and I would have loved to have met them.
Carly: Do you have a special time for writing?
Karen: All I have to do is open the computer and I’m captured, early, late, week day or weekend. I sometimes have trouble getting to the desk to start. Sometimes I need a nap first. Often need lunch or supper first. But once I start, I’m eager to continue.
Carly: How do you reach other writers?
Karen: I’ve met my readers at the Maryland Writers' Association, and at night school, at conferences. Two of us will be at a starting place, want someone else to feel it out, so we swap 30 pages, meet later and discuss the works, and keep going until we are both satisfied with the book.
Carly: What are you curious about?
Karen: As a woman who is closer to 80 than to 70, I am thinking about what’s next. When I was a kid, 77 years-old was ancient. Now I think, how is this possible to be so old? I feel fine. My memory is slipping but I keep a bunch of older friends whose stories are funnier than mine.
Connect with Karen S. Bennett
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About Host and Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning 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 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!
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