In this eleventh Equestrian Author Spotlight, my spurs are really jingling because I talk with Jan Ruth. She is the author of the Midnight Sky Series. I am a HUGE fan of her horse book series for adults! Of course, Jan and I discuss the best topics on earth ... writing, books and horses! In the interview, you'll find out what inspired her equestrian fiction series, learn where the inspiration for her beautiful book cover designs come from, and hear why she left traditional publishing to return to the indie world last year (psst ... she prefers creative freedom over any perceived prestige!) What a spur jingling way to honor your creativity, Jan!
Happy Reading, Everyone!
About Author Jan Ruth
Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic with a generous helping of humor, horses and dogs. Her books blend the serenities of rural life with the headaches of city business, exploring the endless complexities of relationships.
All right! Now, let's saddle up for Jan's interview!
What is your involvement with horses?
I can’t remember a time without horses although I didn’t own one until I was 21 – until I could fund the entire process! (Dad’s orders). But I began riding when I was around 10 and since then – I’m 60 this year – I’ve always managed to find horses to ride. I’ve never taken to competitive riding and still prefer to enjoy exploring the countryside here in the UK. I’m spoilt where I live in Snowdonia – a rugged mountainous area of North Wales, criss-crossed with single-track lanes and quiet villages. We have open access to the hills, although the terrain can be rough so an off-roading type of horse is best!
Why did you choose to write horse books?
I didn’t set out to write an equine series. I wrote MIDNIGHT SKY around ten years ago and my agent at the time said she wasn’t keen on it, because of the equine background. I thought this made it different to the run of the mill romance stories out there but I did take her advice and edited out a lot of the detail, fearing it would perhaps put off a lot of non-horsey readers.
Eventually though, when I came to write part two, PALOMINO SKY I decided to develop this aspect in a way that encompassed the landscape and the way of life in Snowdonia, where the series is set. I think it's improved the material and rooted it firmly as a grown-up romance with a strong equestrian setting.
I’ve just finished writing part three, STRAWBERRY SKY, and I’m pleased with the way the characters have evolved alongside their equine companions. I’ve found the research into natural horsemanship and how horses can heal the human spirit especially interesting and I’ve enjoyed incorporating this into the story line.
I’m always aware of the non-horsey readers though, and take care not to use overly technical descriptions or lose the narrative to something best suited to a factual book. I found this came easily through my main female lead character, Laura, who is not horse savvy, so her journey naturally became the reader’s journey too.
How long have you been an author?
Probably all my life. I started to write seriously some 30 years ago. I’ve come full circle through the publishing world, starting with an agent in 1986 (which came to nothing, but I learnt much) through self-publishing my own work in 2010 (where I learnt even more) by using professional freelance editors and designers, before finally securing a traditional publishing deal in 2015 – for 7 novels, with a small Welsh press. Signing my rights away was a bad move for me as I was actually more successful on my own. I left traditional publishing to return to the indie world last year.
How many horse-related books have you written?
I’ve written one three book series: THE MIDNIGHT SKY SERIES which I’d describe as equine, especially part two and three. Having said that, my other novels do often incorporate horses in a bit part, always feature dogs and all my animals have names and distinctive characters.
Which do you prefer to self-publish or traditional publishing?
I think it’s horses for courses … if you write commercial fiction then seeking a publisher with a good contract is always an option. Because of my material, which falls slightly out of genre, I prefer creative freedom over any perceived prestige so I’m sticking with the independence. Unless an amazing deals comes along …
Would you share about the Midnight Sky series?
THE MIDNIGHT SKY SERIES is a Contemporary, British three-book series.
MIDNIGHT SKY: Laura seems to have it all, glamorous job, charming boyfriend. Her sister, Maggie, struggles with money, difficult children and an unresponsive husband. She envies her sister's life, but are things as idyllic as they seem?
She might be a farmer's daughter but Laura is doing her best to deny her roots, even deny her true feelings. Until she meets James, but James is very married, and very much in love, to a wife who died two years ago. They both have issues to face from their past, but will it bring them together, or push them apart?
PALOMINO SKY: James is still running from the past after the loss of his wife, and a devastating accident forces him to face his final demons, but at what cost? Laura is forced deeper into his rural world - a life she once despised - but discovers empathy and hope in the palomino mare she calls Song.
Repercussions abound for Maggie too, when the full extent of her daughter's dangerous liaison comes to light, leaving the entire family in turmoil. Will James and Laura ever find a golden future, or has life dealt too vicious a blow?
From Carly: Pause ... I have to take a pause ... so I can SQUEAL! I totally can't wait to read this book. I devoured the first two in the series. Phew! Okay, I am better now. Onward with the details of Strawberry Sky ...
A rosy future seems certain but Laura has some tough decisions to make.
Maggie is devastated by her daughter’s plans, but Jess is determined to remove the past from her life no matter the upset it will cause. James is no longer running from his past, but a multitude of unresolved issues are set to catch up with Laura.
As an orphaned foal and a motherless teenage girl slip seamlessly into her life, are they key to a positive change or an omen for impending danger? Armstrong is a troubled young man and a trail of minor events ends in a catastrophe no one could have predicted. Can the family ever recover, or should they simply trust in destiny?
The three novels will also be available in one complete download.
How do you get the idea for the covers of the books?
I work with a great cover designer in JD Smith Design. Once we’d ‘found’ the characters of James and Laura, the covers evolved naturally, using a black horse and the cool atmosphere created by the colours on book one, and then the suggestion of the galloping herd was an easy fit for book two since the main event in this novel centres very much around the annual roundup of the Carneddau ponies.
For the third book, I wanted to bring it back to Laura and this story has a strong a mother-daughter theme, complemented by the back-story of an orphaned strawberry-roan foal, which sits in tandem to the main story. I think the three covers express the novels very well and the paperback editions look especially gorgeous!
How did you research your equestrian fiction novels?
I was fortunate to meet local horse-whisperer-natural horseman, in Guido Louis Leidelmeyer, who was fascinating to watch and I picked up a lot of small tips which translated well into the story line.
As with all my novels, my main areas of research always seem to be either medical, or police procedural points, all of which are vitally important to get right. Other than that, a lifetime of being around horses and once upon a long time ago – a pony trek leader – has allowed me to develop an equine series which is very much rooted in over forty years’ worth of experience around riding schools.
So not too much research on the horse front! The characters I’ve met along the way in this industry have been the most incredible mix of extremes, from gypsies to rich racehorse owners – collectively, a wonderful example of English diversity and eccentricity.
Discover more about Author Jan Ruth!
Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/Ruth
Carly's Disclaimer! Even though Midnight Sky is a complete novel and stands on its own, you will immediately want to read the second book in Jan Ruth's series called Palomino Sky. P.S. I am chomping at the bit for the third book in this series. It's just been released! Get your copy NOW by clicking the button below ;)
What a spur jingling interview!
Thank you to Jan Ruth for participating in my Equestrian Author Spotlight series. I really enjoy these interviews. I learn so much from other authors and appreciate how unique each of our writing journeys is. I love that all the authors featured in this series are linked through our creativity, passion for writing, and love of horses. I think it is so important to support each other. I appreciate the support of a fellow author. Thank you for giving me the gift of your time, Jan! #authorsunite
I LOVE HORSE BOOKS. If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted let me know. I’d be happy to include you, too. Sharing about fellow horse book authors makes my spurs jingle! Visit my contact page to fill out a request!
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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!