Rural Lit is the fastest growing genre in Australia at the moment and I’m really proud to be a part of it. Today I’m bringing you the newest author on the scene, Cathryn Hein and her book Promises. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good reports about it. When I’m in town next, I’ll be heading to the local bookshop to pick up a copy. Congratulations, Cathryn, there is really nothing like holding your first book in your hand!
Hi Fleur, and thanks for inviting me on your blog. And a big wave hello to all your readers. I’m delighted to be here.
I was born horse mad and my reading has always reflected this. Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka trilogy was followed by every single book in Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, and the utter bliss of National Velvet and International Velvet. I can still remember clutching those books to my chest and sighing theatrically as my own romantic horsey dreams swirled in my head.
So it comes as no surprise that I wanted to write books where horses featured in the plot. I’ve written on and off since I was a teenager, and always nurtured a secret ambition of being a novelist. Over the years I’d started many books, each time determined I would reach my dream, but I never managed to exceed 10,000 words. Life, work, love, were wonderful distractions, plus I knew nothing about the craft of writing, and I certainly didn’t comprehend the dedication it took. Only when my partner was posted overseas did I realise that I had the perfect opportunity to make my dream real. So I started writing and haven’t stopped since.
Promises came about thanks to my girlfriend who had read all my novels up to that point. I started off writing rural set love stories, and she adored them, but at that stage no one was touching the genre. Frustrated, I tried an urban set romance and she hated it. Like, really, really hated it and truth be told, so did I. My heart wasn’t in it and it showed. She urged me to go back to what I wrote best. So off I went brainstorming another rural book, and this time I was going to write what I adored most – a romance in which horses featured heavily.
While I don’t share Sophie’s (heroine of Promises) past, some of the events in the book are drawn from my own experiences with horses. For example, there’s a scene where a horse bolts. That happened to me on my very first day of work at local racehorse trainer’s yard, and I was terrified until I remembered my father’s (an ex jockey) advice on what to do in that situation. Some of the horses have characters similar to those I owned. While I can’t remember the exact horse responsible, Rowdy’s penchant for turning his rump and sulking comes from a horse I either owned or worked with. Knowing what a crack-up she was, it was probably my beloved horse Mysty. She may have had four legs and couldn’t talk, but I swear that horse sometimes considered herself human.
Promises isn’t all about horses. At its heart lies a story about forgiveness and hope. It’s about characters who find love when the past should dictate such joy to be impossible. A story featuring a damaged heroine who discovers an inner strength no one believes she possesses, and a hero who finds atonement for an act he believes can never be forgiven.
Most of all it’s a story I loved writing and one I hope readers enjoy too.