Many people have asked me how I came up with the idea of a blind heroine and a guide animal in the form of a pony named Jester. Like many authors I sometimes struggle with ‘showing’ vs ‘telling’ and developing the sensory dimensions in a novel. I started writing a short piece from a blind woman’s pov. Obviously my character could not ‘see’ the world around her but had to interpret it through touch, taste, smell and sounds. It is a wonderful exercise that really helped me connect with Delilah. The story just took off from there and for me as a Canadian farm gal a book is never complete without some kind of animal sidekick. Most people would have gone with the guide dog approach but, I am just not a dog person. My whole life has been spent around show horses of various breeds and disciplines. I remembered an old show I saw once on ‘Animal Planet’ about a lady in the USA who trained miniature horses to be guides for the blind. These remarkable little creatures could do everything a guide dog could and posed less allergy problem. From this simple show the idea behind Jester was born. You can find out more about the book at my publisher Crimson Romance and look for it coming to brick and mortar stores like B&N in paperback in 2014.
*Giveaway: Killarney is offering a free copy of any of her releases available on Amazon to one lucky commenter! Contest ends 12/12 at 11:59PM EST.
The pony snorted and then nickered. She strained to hear anything beyond her own movement as she kept herself afloat. Was there a slight rustle in the brush? Stilling her movement, she paid closer attention. After detecting no further sound she closed her eyes, allowing herself to relax and float in the blissful rocking motion of the current. It must be a small woodland creature out to parch its thirst on such a stuffy night. There was nothing to fear from such creatures, she was sure. A soft splash gave her pause and she rolled over. Treading water she turned to face the opposite bank. Ripples rose, slapping her chest as if something waded in the shallows. She listened again. A rhythmic sloshing made its way toward her. Alarm quickened her pulse as she concentrated on the sound.
An answering nicker came from the bank behind her. She worried her damp lower lip between her teeth. If Jester is yet on the bank, then what is in the water with me? The unknown visitor slowed, treading water a few yards from her. By the noise it made she surmised it was large. Intuition told her it was not a mink or beaver come to fish. The fine hairs on the back of her neck began to prickle. Crossing one arm over her breasts and paddling with the other to keep afloat she inquired, “Is someone there?”
“I thought my eyes deceived me when I spied a fair maiden floating in this pool.”
The unexpected baritone froze her movement. Delilah gasped, almost going under the surface of the water when she forgot in surprise to paddle for an instant. She scrambled for something appropriate to say under the circumstances. “I beg your pardon, sir? ‘Tis most unseemly to disrupt a lady’s swim.”
He chuckled, a low, husky sound making her picture a large, muscular physique. “Ah, you are right; however, I have yet to determine whether you are a lady or merely a figment of my overtaxed imagination.”
Heart thudding against her ribcage, she swam backward toward the opposite bank, struggling to appear calm and collected. The stranger could accost her here and no one would know to come to her rescue. How senseless I have been. Surely Jester will be no match for a man intent on harming me. Taking a deep breath, she gathered her courage. “I assure you sir, I am not a figment of anyone’s imaginings, least of all yours.”
“Hmm …” the preponderance followed her. “Perhaps then you are a woodland nymph out to temp any man who passes by to try your nectar?”
Her feet touched bottom, sinking into the sand. Before she could turn and make for the bank his hands were on her waist. To her horror he cradled it in a firm, yet gentle grip. “Release me sir, for you do offend a lady, not a nymph.” She fought a growing sense of panic as he drew her to him.
His minty breath tickled her damp cheek. “You have flesh as any maiden. Do you taste as sweet as one, too?”
Anger and shock at his boldness brought her hand down with force to slap the surface of the water. He sputtered in response to the spray splattering his face. Perhaps I might have the upper hand. “Release me this instant or I shall scream and alert my maid who sleeps on the bank,” she bluffed.
Despite the warning, he chuckled. “There is no maid, wood nymph, for I walked the whole perimeter when I spied you here.”
Is his intent to take advantage of a lone woman and defile me? What am I to do? Summoning her little remaining courage, she tried to reason with him. “I say again, release me good sir, for my presence will be missed at the manor even as we speak.” She grimaced at the tremor in her voice betraying her fear. He shifted, his mouth brushing her ear, and she gasped at the intimate contact.
“Ah, even so I would take a moment to test your lips to see if they are as soft and sweet as your voice,” he whispered.