Thanks, Nicole, for inviting me back to your hugely informative and entertaining blog. I love nosing through your photos and reading about all the adventures you have on your property. It’s a great way for this currently city-based country girl to reconnect with rural life. 

The Heart of Passion Have you ever wondered where your passions developed from, whether they were inherited, nurtured, spontaneous, or even adopted from someone else? I’m a passionate foodie, yet my mother is quite indifferent to things cooking and cuisine related. While both my parents like to read, they’re not terribly voracious, whereas I’m a complete bookworm. My brother is sporty. I’m an enthusiastic participant but somehow the genes governing easy athleticism and co-ordination passed me by.

 My love for all things equine, though? Ahh, well, now that’s what is known in the vernacular as a no-brainer. As happened in those days, my father was indentured as an apprentice jockey when he was eleven. It would be impossible to think of an eleven year old today leaving home to work and live with a racehorse trainer but Dad did it, and thrived. I have the most marvellous whale bone whip in my office which Dad won as the winning rider of Tactful Queen in the 1952 Frances Handicap. In fact, as I type this blog post, I realise that it was 60 years to the day that he won that race. But I guess he was only following in the footsteps of his forebears, because my grandfather was also a jockey, and my great-grandfather rode jumps races. 

  With this kind of family history it’s little wonder I was born horse mad. Fortunately I had Dad on hand to help teach me horsemanship. He was no longer a jockey, his career having ended at age twenty one when his apprenticeship finished and he’d grown too big for the job, but there are some things you don’t forget. My teenage years are a blur of horses and horse events. Pony club, trail riding, saddle horses, dressage, eventing, showjumping, hunting – if it involved a horse and riding, I was probably in on it. I even worked for a couple of racehorse trainers riding exercise in my gap year. Though I tried to keep riding after university and when I began my working career, eventually it became impossible. But those horse genes have to be placated somehow, which is why I write rural romance. Not only do I get to weave stories about places that hold special meaning for me, there’s always an opportunity to thread a horse or two through the narrative. In the case of my latest release, Heart of the Valley, horses play a major role in the heroine, Brooke’s, life. She lives and breathes them, not only through her work managing the family’s Hunter Valley racehorse spelling property, but through her passion for showjumping. I had no difficulty imagining how desperately she’d fight to keep all she loves most when she’s suddenly faced with losing it. In her shoes, I’d do the same. That’s what passion is about.