In this sixteenth Equestrian Author Spotlight, I talk with equine author, Rachael Eliker. Of course, we discuss the best topics on earth ... writing, books and horses! In the interview, you'll learn about her favorite horse book (besides her own of course). I think you'll agree it's a solid choice! Also, you'll love learning about the moral of her stories, get a kick out of her commentary on a favorite quote, and want to join her while she researches her equestrian fiction novels. Happy reading!
About Rachael Eliker, Equine Author
Rachael Eliker was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. She attended UNL where she studied Animal Science with an option in Biology, before moving to Iowa with her husband to live on a century-old farmstead. She currently lives on an acreage in Indiana, with her husband and four children where she enjoys challenging home improvement projects, running on lonely stretches of country road and writing young adult fiction.
Nice to meet you, Rachael! Now it's time to saddle up for the interview.
What's your favorite motivational quote?
As an author, one of my favorite quotes is from Besa Kosova, who said, “Writers write while dreamers procrastinate.” So true!
I can’t tell you how many times, once people find out I’ve published a few books, tell me their plans for writing the next great novel … when they get a chance.
If not now, when?
I think this applies to any worthwhile goal. If you want to run a marathon, go put on your running shoes and start training. If you want to be in a dance competition, start with a dance class. If you want to go to France, go get your passport and teach yourself some basic phases. Life is so much more fulfilling when you get over whatever is holding you back and go for it!
What is your involvement with horses?
One thing that I love about horses is that there is so many ways to interact and be involved with them. As a child, I daydreamed endlessly about having a horse of my own and lived for the one summer day every year that my kindergarten teacher would have my family out to ride her trusty broodmares, Fanny and Princess.
As a teenager, when my grandfather purchased dressage lessons for me that eventually led to my family purchasing a horse of our own, I began competing heavily in dressage, jumping, and eventing. Through high school and into college, I worked for several local stables, mucking stalls and caring for the horses in exchange for board for my horse, Stoney.
As a newlywed, I also picked up teaching a handful of children riding lessons on my horse to make some extra cash. Now, with four children of my own, Stoney and his pasture-mate of eight years, Dancer, live the life of luxury in the backyard, keeping the grass grazed down and giving the occasional first-time horse rider a stroll around the paddock. I look forward to someday returning to more seriously training and competing but in all phases of my life, I consider myself extremely blessed that horses have been a part of it.
What's your favorite horse book (besides your own of course)?
Black Beauty tops my list of all-time favorite horse books. I love the perspective Anna Sewell took in writing the book — that horses are more than just mere animals, that they bond with people and other horses, that they are often incredibly patient creatures worthy of our respect and admiration.
Perhaps that’s what motivated me to write my own books in the Nadia and Winny series from the point of view that their in — it’s always been fascinating to me to try and figure out what is going on in a horse’s head. Plus, I joke with my husband that I’ve read/watched Black Beauty too many times to ever be able to sell my own horse. So far, it’s worked and I’ve never had to!
How many horse-related books have you written?
So far, I have two in my Nadia and Winny series, though I’m shooting for releasing the third sometime next year. However, I have literally dozens of ideas for horse-related books floating around in my head. Even when I complete a novel that isn’t particularly categorized as horse-related, I can’t help but include horses in them. I started a YA dystopian series this past year and some of my favorite characters are the horses!
Why do you write?
I excelled in my English courses in school and though I didn’t seriously take up writing outside of required assignments until my twenties, when I began blogging, then novel-writing in my early thirties,
I’ve enjoyed the creative release it’s provided. It requires goal-setting, determination, diligence, learning new skills (ugh, marketing! Haha!), and enough humility to accept a critique.
I also love that though I might not be able to go jump on a horse and gallop across an open field whenever I want, I can certainly sit down with my laptop, recall some of my favorite horse-riding adventures and through writing, relive them. Inviting a reader into a world where they can experience that with me is priceless.
If this book is part of a series, would you share little about it?
Headed for the Win and Road to the Regalia are the two books I have so far in the Nadia and Winny series. In a lot of ways, their story is very similar to mine and many other young riders — desperately wanting a horse and willing to do anything for one. I myself mucked a lot of stalls so that I could maintain my horse obsession.
At the beginning, Nadia and Winny have a very typical relationship and are trying to figure each other out, as any horse and rider must do. The twist comes when Winny unexpectedly bucks Nadia off in front of her peers, which is a humiliating feeling. In her desire to better understand her horse, she’s placed in a unique situation that frankly, I think would be fascinating to experience.
In both books, they are in high-stress competitions and have to learn to work together, despite obstacles from rivals, jealous ex-girlfriends, fierce competition, and cheaters.
How did you research your novel?
Since moving to Indiana, I’ve taken advantage more than once of living so close to the Kentucky Horse Park, where the Rolex Three-day Event takes place annually. It has been a dream of mine to attend such an elite event and I’ve learned so much about the upper-levels of the sport by walking the courses and studying the jumps, watching the competitors ride and speaking to other fans, riders, and volunteers.
I also read several books in the same genre to get a feel for what fans expect in a story. Of course, while writing, I drew on a lot of memories when penning the horse riding scenes. It’s a lot easier to write about what it feels like being on the back of a horse, having had many experiences myself — everything from galloping an open meadow to being bucked off unexpectedly. All of those, for better or worse, lend to more believable writing!
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
I think that any good novel has a moral to the story without being too preachy to the reader. While there are the typical lessons associated with successful horse showing — perseverance, dedication, bravery — there are other more meaningful things I hope readers take away from my stories: that people and a horse’s well-being are more important than a blue ribbon, that it’s important to give others the benefit of the doubt, that doing the right thing is not always easy and that everyone, including animals, has a history that contributes greatly to who they are and why they act the way they do.
What’s next? Future goals for your writing?
I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time, working on the second book in my YA Dystopian series, entitled The Midnight Shadows. The pressure of a deadline has been great!
I’m also shooting for completing Nadia and Winny’s story soon but one of the wonderful things about self-publishing is that it allows me to be very flexible, which is much needed in a young family.
Beyond that, I have lots of books that I’d like to write and they’ll come as I have a chance to sit down and type them out. I hope that writing will be a lifelong endeavor.
Discover More About Rachael Eliker's Books!
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Eliker
What a spur jingling interview!
Thank you to Rachael Eliker for participating in my Equestrian Author Spotlight series. I 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, Rachael! #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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Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!