Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: A Canter of the Heart (The Equestrian and the Aviator, #1) by E.E. West


A beautiful Australian para-equestrian, Eleanor, is rudely awakened the morning after her twentieth birthday to face two pressing problems: the first, though she refuses to accept it, is that she's been told by many acquaintances and relations that she'll never find true love, and the second being, though she doesn't know it yet, that she can't even get up the steps to visit the blasted night-club with her mates! What no one knows is that one random act of chivalry, at the hands of a handsome American naval flight officer, is about to turn her world upside down. The heartfelt and sometimes harrowing journey that follows is as humorous as it is inspirational.

A Canter of the Heart is the romance of a new millennium, a story that you've never heard before, and one that should take its place amongst the iconic romances of our time. But most importantly, it is a romance that will speak, most unapologetically, to your heart. A Canter of the Heart is the first book in ‘The Equestrian and the Aviator’ trilogy that sets our intrepid heroine on the journey of a lifetime. The first thing that you will no doubt discover is that Eleanor, fickle girl that she is, has already found the love of her life – her inspiring love of horses. 

This trilogy is based on a true story, and is a testament to the therapeutic riding programs offered by the Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia. It is dedicated to the many remarkable, selfless people who made and continue to make those programs possible.

Thank you, Mrs.  E.E. West 
I truly believe in the therapeutic power of animals. Please, tell us more about Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia and how (if) did you include it in the story?
Riding programs for the disabled were established in Europe in the early fifties to improve the lives of those with physical disabilities, while the programs in Australia were established in the mid sixties to help riders with any form of disabilty. In this story, Eleanor's Mum had grown up on a farm in Devon, England, and, having been around horses her entire life, she set Eleanor up with her own horse, Snowy, and helped her ride every day as a form of exercise. Eleanor also studied dressage at Riding for the Disabled Association first in England, then West Australia. 
For disabled riders, equestrian activities may be the best form of exercise available, requiring the use of every muscle in the body as well as stimulating cognitive abilities and helping with emotional and social issues. The bond that a rider forms while directing a one thousand pound horse, more or less depending on the breed, develops confidence and poise in a rider that no other activity can match. When you add the complexities of dressage to the picture, the pursuit of excellence in this field can become a life long obsession for any rider, disabled or not. In my way of thinking, when a disabled rider mounts their horse, they cease being a disabled rider and become, simply, an equestrian. 

What does it take to transpose a true story in literature? How much did you (could you) change it? 
Despite the fact that this story was set on a time-line, which started the day Eleanor and David met, and then progressed through the dates of the actual port calls of the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Abraham Lincoln as they applied to Eleanor and David, plus the dates for Eleanor's RDA dressage competitions and so on - much the way you might set out to write a piece of historical fiction - the story itself; the interaction of the characters, the emotions and motivations of each character, and how they interact, as well as how that impacted the final outcome of the story; was always fluid. Many of the locations visited, the characters, even the ending of the story changed during the writing of the manuscript depending on the way the story unfolded onto the page. This is truly more a work of romantic fiction about a young woman who loves horses and a young man who loves aviation, and how their love brought their two worlds together, than it was the re-telling of a true story.

There are so many love stories! In what way is “A Canter of the Heart a romance of a new millennium, a story that you've never heard before”? 
I like this question, as it comes straight to the heart of this love story. It would be so easy to call this a 'Cinderella story', and many might nod their head, as there are many of the same elements, but this is the story of a woman who doesn't need a prince charming, as no one on earth, not even a prince, could give her what she truly wanted – to be like everyone else. Our heroine is also someone who has a beautiful life, full of horses, parents who love her, friends who believe in her, school to look forward to, and she lives in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Boyanup, West Australia. This really isn't a Cinderella story, or any form of a traditional love story for that matter. 

While I'm at it, I could also compare 'A Canter of the Heart' to a long list of fiction written with disabled protagonists like 'Crazy Beautiful' by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, or 'Dancing with Clara' by Mary Balogh or 'The Boy Next Door' by Annabelle Costa, or a long list of movies and plays like 'An Affair to remember', '50 first dates', 'De rouille et d'os', or to a nearly infinite list of traditional romance novels. Yes, I agree that there is no end to the romance titles with which to compare, all with a different take on what constitutes love or what form of love is involoved - if love is even a factor in the relationship - and to what degree it motivates the protagonists. In many of these books there are similarities that can be drawn to one degree or another, but to date I haven't been able to pidgeon hole this book without noteable differences. 

This novel is about a woman who is clearly in control of her world, despite an unfortunate disabililty, who isn't about to let anyone or anything stop her from living life to its fullest, who meets a man from the opposite side of the world with whom she has nothing in common, except, perhaps, love at first sight, and what becomes of it is the rest of the story, including two more books yet to come to further Eleanor's story. I say that this story should be 'a romance of a new millenium' almost as a dare for someone to show me a story that is similar – which could very well be out there – and while I can find ample examples of the various forms of love that comprise this book, I have yet to find any story like this one. 

Do you believe that true love conquers all? What form has this idea (or its opposite) in „The Equestrian and the Aviator” series? 
I wish it did. What I do believe is that if you are fortunate enough to find true love, embrace it, don't barter it. True love is as scarce as it is all encompassing, and it's likely to be your only opportunity to attain true happiness in this lifetime. I know the power of true love changes the way we see our world, and what we once saw as an obstacle may often be seen as an opportunity under the purview of true love, but nothing conquers all. 

Canter, gallop… What rhythm is more suitable (or preferable) for a love story, in real life and in the literature? Why so? 
The actual gait is less important than the transition and, in the transition to canter, attaining the proper lead. The cover of the book shows Eleanor in a gallop, but the reference in 'A Canter of the Heart' refers to Eleanor's difficulty with her transitions from trot to canter and how the change in rhythm can cause her to be thrown out of the saddle – this was both in real life and in the story. I won't say more as I don't wish to spoil the story, but this relates back to the power of true love and how things we once saw as obstacles can now be seen as opportunities.

About the author:
I've been a resident of the Pacific Northwest for the better part of two decades, and blithely accept life in the shadows of the nesting grounds of bald eagles while ensconced amidst the company of wild, damp and understandably nervous bunnies. I prefer to write at the dining room table, where the light is better and I can work next to Simon, the sweetest one hundred and twenty pound Rottweiler that you're ever likely to meet -- except when he's in the mood to editorialize, which he is only on rare occasions. I much prefer to write love stories that take place in warm, sunny and exotic locales as I admire and rate the latest downpour direct from the Pacific Northwest's over-active convergence zone, but in my heart I will forever be drawn back to the lucky country... Australia... and maybe one more lovely canter along an endless beach.

Author's Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Unknown said...

It intrigues me that the book is based on a true story.

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Alisha S. said...

I love that this is a true story about therapeutic riding!

Anonymous said...

the story :)

Anonymous said...

I love horses so I am definitely interested.

Unknown said...

It intrigues me because it is based on a true story and I don't think I've ever read a romance novel like this. Thank you for the giveaway :)

Kat said...

I love romances with animals heavily included so the horse aspect grabbed me the most. Also, I volunteered at a therapeutic horseback riding center for a long time. I love anything that shares therapeutic riding with more people.

Natasha said...

That it is based on a true story.
Thanks for the chance to win!

Kai said...

I'm amazed that the story based on a true story. I wouldn't have believe it.

Amy said...

It has horses in it. I love horses.

Fayth97 said...

The storyline. Who among us can't use a little bolstering of the spirit? It's not easy to find a good Story that shows we can overcome anything we face if we just persevere, and that is what this book is about. That no matter what is laid in front of us, if we have faith & don't give up, we can have/accomplish it all!!!

Anonymous said...

I like the cover so much that I want to discover the story inside.
I also love that the book is inspired by a true story.
Thanks for the interview & giveaway!

Unknown said...

I love stories that are based on real life. The story made ​​me very interested... how and what to do and what will happen to Eleanor... :)

Lis said...

I have never read stories like this. It sounds original.

Cindi said...

This is the first romance that I've ever read that is 1) based on a true story, 2) deals with a woman with disabilities. I think it's very refreshing!!!

Unknown said...

I like the description! It makes it sound like a Grand Love Story and I love those...

Unknown said...

The story looks great

ionutzk said...

the incredible story :D

Unknown said...

I like that it's based on a true story :)

Bunniker said...

I am most intrigued about how it is based on a true story.