History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

30 October 2007

Happy Halloween! Interview with a 13th Century Horsewitch

“Kathrynn Dennis' debut romance, "Dark Rider," will dazzle readers with its beautifully crafted characters, vividly detailed medieval setting and captivating plot rife with passion and intrigue.”
---John Charles, Chicago Tribune

A wonderful reader recently sent me the above review of my book, DARK RIDER, which she found in the theme park section of the Chicago Tribune!

The review was listed in the romance section under the title: It takes all kinds: Witches, assassins, servants and even wolves need love.

So, in the spirit of the day, I’ve posted an “interview” with the heroine in DARK RIDER, a 13th century horsewitch:

First, why do they call you horsewitch?

I am a horse healer, who on occasion (if I am involved in highly emotional or intense situations), can speak to the beasts with my thoughts and make them do what I want.

Could be a useful talent if you were engaged, say, in a 13th war. You could probably take out the enemy’s horses and turn the tide of any battle.

I would never harm a horse if I didn’t have to. But I had to once to save my people and the man I loved. I use my gift with extreme caution. It isn’t always easy to judge who is right and who is wrong. Innocent horses might suffer unnecessarily.

Where did you learn your healing/telepathic talents?

From my mentor, a Saracen named Safia. Her people know more about horses and healing than we English ever will.

Didn’t she kill a lot of horses once?

In self defense. She sickened horses belonging to English crusaders. The men rode in to destroy her village. What else could she do?

What’s the worst thing about being known as a horsewitch?

That everyone assumes I’m evil, that I can’t be trusted. Or they don’t believe in my gift at all and they mock me. Both make me furious. For the longest time I denied what I could do. No more.

How would you cure, say a horse with colic? Or one with a bad cough? Any favorite treatments?

Is this a test, good sir? For colic, try a drench with beer and wrapping the horse’s belly with hot, wet burlap sacks. For a bad cough, try mare’s milk and honey. I’ve no treatment for death, if you should ask. I cannot resurrect a horse who’s passed on.

Are there others out there like you?

I assume we are few in number. I’ve never met another horsewitch other than my teacher. ‘Tis a God given gift. Most women keep their talent a secret for fear of persecution.

I have to ask, are there horse wizards? Men who have the same gift as you?

Yes but only one walks the earth at a time. One is born every hundred years. A horse wizard is pure evil and a mortal enemy of a horsewitch. There’s one on earth now. I don’t know where he is. Pray that I never meet him.

Can a horsewitch fall in love?

The question should be can a man fall in love with a horsewitch? It takes a special kind of man, a master horseman perhaps, or one who understands who and what we are. I was lucky. I found such a rare man. But I have high hopes for my daughter.

Uh oh, I smell a sequel…;-) Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Blogger doglady said...

What a great interview and what a great story premise. I have never heard of a horsewitch so this is definitely a unique story. Where did you get the idea for it? I cannot wait to read Dark Rider.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...


I'm so glad you posted that interview, Kathrynn ... your Horsewitch sounds like an absolutely fascinating creation. And I'm looking forward to reading more about her. Your cover guy looks very contemporary to me ... is he from our era?

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

6:26 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Linforth said...

I know a young horse lover who is going to get this book for Christmas!


8:44 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Great interview--fascinating story premse! And congrats on the wonderful Chicago Tribune review!!!!

Happy All Hallows' Eve, all!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

There is another woman who might be called a horsewitch: Goldrun in Tilman Röhrig's Die Burgunderin (unfortunately only avaliable in German, I think). Her skills with horses impress even the Huns, and that says something. The paranormal element is not very strong, but there's an undertone.

Oh, and she does find love, though it's a very long and complicated way, her being a Burgundian hostage with the Huns and her lover the son of King Attila. :)

I have Dark Rider on my ever growing TBR pile.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thanks, Doglady! I never knew about the German book with a horsewitch! I can read a little German, so I'll definately pick that one up!

As for where I came up with the premise...I wondered what would happen if a female veterinarian exsisted in the 13th century...

Oh, she'd get into all kinds of trouble. ;-)

3:03 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Hi Amanda,

About the cover, er...well, it's a long story, but no, he is not from our era, just a 13th century knight in blue jeans and a button down shirt. Really.

....but my editor did manage to get his collar photoshopped out.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Hi Jennifer, I'm glad the book appeals to horse lovers (at least so far, that's who has written to tell me!)...but not too young, 'kay?

It's a little R rated in parts.;-)

3:08 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thank you, Tracey. First time I've ever interviewed a character.

Interesting thing to try as an author. Wonder how readers feel about it?

3:10 PM  
Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

Kathrynn, the book goes as Die Burgunderin in paperback, but the hardcover is Ein Sturm wird kommen von Mitternacht. I suppose they changed the title because 'Die Something-in' sells well here. Röhrig writes historical fiction, not historicals, but this one has a strong romance subplot.

It's a pity German books seldom get translated; most of you miss out on some good reads here.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thank you, Gabriele. I'll search for Die Burgunderin on Amazon (and everywhere).


3:32 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Oooh thanks Gabriel C! You are right about German books not being translated. I read some great ones when I lived in Germany and worked in Austria. I would love to get some new ones to keep my German up. Danke!!!

6:41 PM  
Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

Well, there's on of my favourites, Rebecca Gablé's Waringham trilogy (Das Rad der Fortuna, Die Hüter der Rose, Das Spiel der Könige), the first two out in paperback, the last in hardcover. It's a family saga taking place during the War of the Roses. Nice, big doorstoppers, too. :) Another historical doorstopper, this one taking place during the Norman Conquest, is Das zweite Königreich.

Petra Durst Benning's Die Glasbläserin tells the story of three sisters in the Thuringian mountains who try to run their father's glass making business. The sequel, Die Amerikanerin, is a fun read, too, though not quite up to the first book.

Iny Lorentz (who writes with her husband Elmar) has written a whole set of books with female protags. The first ones Die Wanderhure, Die Kastratin, Die Goldhändlerin are pretty good but they work a bit too much to a formula these days, imho. Though the Wanderhure sequel Die Kastellanin might be ok. They have published two books under another name, Eric Maron: Die Fürstin and Die Rebellinnen von Mallorca - both entertaining reads.

I'd stay away from Sabine Ebert's books excpet if you like Mary Sues and historical mistakes like a witch process in the 12th century. :)

If you have been bitten by the Roman bug, you should read Iris Kammerer's trilogy, Der Tribun, Die Schwerter des Tiberius, Wolf und Adler about the Romans in Germany. One of the main plotlines is the relationship between the Roman officer Cinna and his German wife Sunja. I have a NiP taking place in the same context, but I concentrate more on the military aspect. Iris has also written a novel about the Mediaeval King Heinrich Raspe - Der Pfaffenkönig.

Though with less romance, Tilman Röhrig has written more good books; I'd recommend Wie ein Lamm unter Löwen about Friedrich II and Wir sind das Salz von Florenz, a Rennaissance romp in the times of Savonarola.

There are more historical ficiton novels, but I admit I've grown a bit weary of the 'Die Somethin-In' type of books.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

There's another trilogy I remember, Dagmar Trodler: Die Waldgräfin, Freyas Töchter, Tage des Raben, featuring Vikings. It got some favourite reviews on Literaturschock, though when I browsed the first book, it didn't work for me. But tastes are different, so you may like it.

Btw, the Literaturschock website and the fourms should be a good place to find more books.

10:17 AM  

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