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John Allen Royce, author of Eclipsed by Shadow (Oct 18-Oct 25)

Author Chat

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1LibThingDan
Oct 18, 2010, 9:13am Top

Please welcome John Allen Royce, author of Eclipsed by Shadow. John will be chatting on LibraryThing until October 25th.

2J_Royce
Edited: Oct 18, 2010, 1:37pm Top

The story I’ve written is a trilogy concerns a journey through the past by a modern horse-enthusiast … quite handy knowledge for surviving history, actually. The 1st book, Eclipsed by Shadow received excellent reviews including a recommendation by Library Journal, and won awards including the Eric Hoffer Award for YA Fiction. The 2nd volume, The Golden Spark is soon to be published, and is part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

If you haven’t read Book I: Eclipsed by Shadow, the 1st Chapter is free online (http://thegreathorse.com/chap1.html) … excerpts are also being posted on the book’s FB page. Please let me know if info is hard to find or confusing.

"The Legend of the Great Horse" trilogy is a different sort of story, one I hope blasts you out of your seat and sets you back down with a new appreciation for our common legacy of history and horses. In a nice way, of course :)

3elbakerone
Oct 18, 2010, 5:28pm Top

Haven't had a chance to read the excerpt yet but I thought I would say hello and welcome to the Author chat.

Have you always loved history and horses or did the idea for the trilogy spark your interest and research towards them?

4J_Royce
Oct 18, 2010, 6:42pm Top

Hi Elbakerone, thanks for saying hi ... nice to meet you!

I became a horse-enthusiast early in life, but only became interested in history much later. I happened when I lived near Harvard Square in Boston in the late 1990s, where amazing old bookstores were filled with books from professors' estates and libraries going back well over a century ... and they were being lost to commercial 'gentrification' (ie, Starbucks).

It was realizing the stacks and boxes of out-of-print books were doomed to being lost that triggered something, and I began collecting illustrated works about history. The idea that so much could be carelessly lost gave me motivation. Gradually I noticed how many variations of horsemanship there were pictured through the ages. Primitive nomads, chariot racing, the Hordes of Genghis Khan, Knights, conquistadors ... courts of nobility and the common marketplace, battlefields, hunting and sports all had horses. They are our common legacy, as is history itself, of course.

Now the bookstores are gone, and the once-vibrant square is quietly commercial, sterile and dull ... but the demise of it's historical record provided the spark for my writing. History truly is a tale of horses.

5library_gal
Edited: Oct 19, 2010, 10:27am Top

Hi, John!
The protagonist of your series is a girl. How did that come about?

6J_Royce
Edited: Oct 19, 2010, 10:31am Top

Actually, my initial plan for the main character was to be a boy. This changed early on -- I wrote a post on about this question on the book's blog:

... horses have given the world such rugged male icons as cowboys (and indians), knights in shining armor and cavalry charges, not to mention Ben-Hur. Yet my initial main character “Michael” kept dismounting to let Meagan aboard... http://thegreathorse.com/blog/2010/03/the-hero-is-a-girl/

As a practical matter, the character changed because today, for the first time in history, horses have become a female-dominated pastime. Since the story's main character is a modern-day rider, it just made more sense. As a former riding coach, I taught and observed many more female students than males, so it wasn't much more of a challenge.

It also became interesting to explore how an independent modern woman might deal with the traditional male chauvinism of the past ... without any special 'powers' other than knowledge of modern horsemanship.

In the end, Meagan began "talking" in the story and became quite her own person ... at that point I felt confident she was the right choice. One of the fascinating parts of writing this work was 'watching' Meagan grow up. As I wrote the story, inspiration came and took things in hand.

7elbakerone
Oct 19, 2010, 3:02pm Top

#4 - As a hero of antiquated books, you will likely find many kindred spirits here on LibraryThing! ;)

8J_Royce
Oct 19, 2010, 6:14pm Top

Sounds good, elbakerone ... looking forward to it :)

9J_Royce
Oct 20, 2010, 1:21pm Top

The latest excerpt from "Eclipsed by Shadow" (they're being posted in order) illustrates the choice of action available to Meagan as a female: she has landed in the ancient Coliseum of Rome and manages to briefly survive by riding a horse from a fallen chariot ...

She acts impulsively to stop another death, and is offered for pardon from the Emperor: the reason is the novelty of her action (Romans were big on luck and novelty). Yet a male would not believably have survived challenging a guard of ancient Rome ... in this case Meagan's 'lowly' status as a female works to her advantage.

http://thegreathorse.com/blog/2010/10/49-in-the-shadow-of-the-coliseum/

As much as I loved Buffy for its 'girl-power' theme, and I did and it was an influence, the realism of "Eclipsed by Shadow" required Meagan to find alternate ways of survival than brute-strength or super powers. My goal was to realize a kind of creative non-fiction, ie, how would it really, truly have been to find oneself in ancient cultures with only one's modern knowledge to survive.

10wnk1029
Oct 21, 2010, 9:53pm Top

Have you started work on the third book yet? I'm really interested to see where Meagan goes next and what finally happens when she arrives back in her own time.

11J_Royce
Edited: Oct 22, 2010, 11:11am Top

Hi wnk, it's great to have you along for the journey ... yes, I've finished a rough draft of the 3rd book of the trilogy.

Actually, the entire work was in rough draft before I concentrated on finishing each book individually. Everything had to be sketched out first, because things from Book 3 affect and rely on the others. Maybe it's obvious to say about writing anything, changes in one part affect the whole work.

There are surprises coming in Book 3 of course ... without saying much I'll comment that other eras in horsemanship between Book 2 (which ends in 1816) and the present day include cowboys and the Old West, cavalry and its demise, and various sports that continue today.

12cferncook
Oct 23, 2010, 1:46pm Top

This series sounds like it has a lot of potential.

13MicronPress
Edited: Oct 24, 2010, 5:20pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

14MicronPress
Edited: Oct 24, 2010, 5:22pm Top

Information and reviews about the trilogy are available online: http://TheGreatHorse.com

15AnthonyJones
Oct 24, 2010, 9:59pm Top

From growing up in Western Kentucky on a horse farm, my earliest memories from my childhood I have always been a horse-enthusiast, with somewhat an interest in history. This book opened my eyes into a world of history and imagination. Book I was an awesome book to read with a lot of potential. It provided me with such interest that I could not put the book down. I can’t wait till I have Book II in my hand. When will Book III be available? I can’t wait to see where Megan’s journey takes her next and will she ever make it home.

16J_Royce
Oct 24, 2010, 11:41pm Top

One thing I should mention, the book is for ages 15+. Younger teens have read and enjoyed the story, but the suspense and frank brutality of history may disturb a very sensitive reader.

“The Legend of the Great Horse” is a very unique and entertaining kind of ‘horse story’ told to people with no knowledge or special attraction to horses. History is a tale of horses! I hope join the ride.

Thank you, participants … I hope you have a fantastic Fall and find some great books!

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