by Sasscer Hill ~ I have loved racehorses all my life, and I believe this passion transfers itself to the written pages of my mysteries. I lived on a Maryland horse farm for more than 30 years, where I bred, raised, broke, and raced Thoroughbreds. Horse racing is truly in my blood!
The Thoroughbred racetrack is the anchor around which I build my mystery‑thrillers. I am grateful that my experiences with horse racing drove me to write my first Nikki Latrelle novel, FULL MORTALITY, which garnered both Agatha and Macavity nominations for best first novel.
Because I ran horses at Maryland’s Laurel and Pimlico racetracks, plus several other tracks in surrounding states, I already had a ton of inspiration and stories under my belt.
My history of breaking yearlings, galloping horses on my Maryland farm, and riding in amateur steeplechase races provided even more experience and knowledge to fuel the desire to write.
Training these young horses was long and arduous, but a labor of pure love.
I would never put a saddle on one of these spirited, almost mystical animals, until I longlined them from the safety of the ground. I would walk behind, holding long reins and staying well out of kicking range, teaching them to walk, halt, turn right, turn left, back up, and perform figure eights.
Then, when I added a saddle and the unaccustomed weight of a rider, we would remain in the same paddock. And I would give them the same commands. They would respond because it was so familiar.
Some horses behaved perfectly, others were contrary and liked to buck me off. Of course, I would climb back on and eventually, I would have them in hand.
When I turned to novel writing, the horse racing in my blood had to come out in my books.
I used the characteristics and personalities I’d found in my racing career as an endless source of inspiration—the risk, the beauty, the speed, the opportunities for skullduggery, and the extraordinary “Upstairs Downstairs” quality of the people who inhabit the life.
Picture the winner’s circle. Notice the poverty‑level groom who holds a hundred‑thousand‑dollar horse for a trainer who may be living large, or only hand‑to‑mouth. With them stands the rich or possibly almost‑broke‑owner who may also be a white‑collar criminal. Or he might enjoy a golden life of lofty social status.
Now, notice the jockey on the winning horse. Prior to the race, did you see him make the sign of the cross before he risked his life once again to mount a thousand‑pound animal that races in a mob of horses at speeds up to 40 miles an hour?
Now watch the horse, the real hero of this winner’s circle group. He might have been sore or tired, yet he still dug deep to find the heart and courage to pull out the win.
They are amazing animals, and I am so lucky to have bred, raised, and owned a few of them.
The cheating, the pageantry, the criminals, the fear, and the heart and courage—I’ve seen it all.
And all of it, every aspect of the horse racing that is in my blood is now in my books!
SHOOTING STAR, Book 5 in the Nikki Latrelle horse racing series.
When Nikki’s ex-lover Will hires her to protect the horses used to film a movie at Santa Anita Racetrack, she learns evil is alive and well in Hollywood.
Keeping Thoroughbreds safe from a director who doesn’t know a horse from a hamster is tricky. More difficult are the unresolved feelings between Nikki and Will, especially when sexy, young movie star, Jamie Jackson, sets his sights on Nikki.
But when a sniper’s bullet shatters the brain of a cameraman close enough that she can smell his blood, Nikki’s need to protect overrides everything. Her sleuthing unearths a trail of corruption and when she must lie to Will to protect his life, she’s on her own. Can she identify the evil behind the scenes before she and Will become the next victims?
Shooting Star is the fifth rocket-paced story in the award-winning Nikki Latrelle mystery series. If you like protagonists with heart and courage, unexpected twists, and a thrill ride to the finish, you’ll love Shooting Star.
EBOOK RELEASE JULY 14, 2021. The paperback is already available.
Posted by Sasscer Hill. Dubbed “the Dick Francis of her generation,” Sasscer is an award-winning author who has been involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for much of her life. She sets many of her novels against a background of big money, gambling, and horse racing. She is the author of the Nikki Latrelle mystery-thrillers and the Travels of Quinn.
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