Dear STACKS Readers,
Over the years, I have written about the brave owls of Ga’Hoole, the noble wolves of the Beyond, and now . . . horses! Why horses? Well, when I was growing up, I loved horse stories, but I longed for a story told from a horse’s perspective. I wanted to know: What does it feel like to gallop? What does it sound like to pound across a plain with your herd?
There were no humans in Guardians of Ga’Hoole or Wolves of the Beyond. That allowed me to focus on the animals and build worlds that explored the species’ complex societies, free from any human influence.
However, the history of horses is inextricably linked to human history, which presented a unique challenge. Unlike owls or wolves, horses have been “domesticated” for centuries. Oh yes, there are “wild” mustangs in the western U.S., but they are the descendants of the first horses that came to America, and they only became wild after they escaped from captivity. These horses had to learn how to forage or gallop without shoes. Thinking about this, I became fascinated by the idea of a herd that broke away from its human masters. How would the horses survive? How long would it take for their “wild” instincts to emerge? Before I knew it, I had begun the Horses of the Dawn series.
The first book, Escape, is the story of the first horses that came to North America with the Conquistadores. Specifically, it’s the story of one filly named Estrella, who, along with six other horses, is tossed overboard from a ship bound for the New World.
The horses swim to shore, and for the first time, they have to make decisions for themselves. There are no humans, no whips, no spurs to tell them what to do. Estrella becomes the unlikely leader of the herd, though that is only the beginning of her adventure. Essentially, Escape is a story of self-discovery and homecoming, as one young horse finds the strength to lead the herd to freedom, to claim their destiny as the Horses of the Dawn.
Read Chapter 1. I hope you enjoy it!