A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Desert Rose
Posted on 02/03/2021 Victoria Hardesty
Author of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses
Author Masterminds Member
Nancy Perez and I write stories about Arabian horses and the people who love them. You might not know how we do this. We live 100 miles apart with her in San Juan Capistrano, CA, along the California coastline north of San Diego.
I live in the Mojave Desert region north of the Los Angeles Basin, on the Angeles National Forest’s northern slopes. If I use the toll roads, I can drive to her home in two hours. Sometimes, if we need to get together in person, we split the difference and meet in a Chino, CA neighborhood close to where we grew up and went to school.
We work on the phone, with Skype, and by emailing chapters back and forth to each other. We did a lot of work on Desperado, our third book, while Nancy was on vacation in Spain. I emailed her chapters, and she sent me back her comments and edits.
When we finished our first book, Prince Ali, we decided we wanted a real photograph of a horse on the cover. We searched the internet and found a site that offers royalty-free pictures. We narrowed down the search by looking only at photos of Gray Arabian Horses. We went through thousands of photos. There were 148 pages of images, each page containing about 60 photos. It was an arduous process to narrow it down to one or two candidates who personified our Prince Ali.
After that, we decided to find the photo for the cover first and then write our story. The picture represented our character and allowed us to breathe life into the character in our writing. For La Duquesa, we chose a photo of a dignified horse as a duchess but also sweet and gracious as royalty should be. For Desperado, our wild child, we chose a photo where he’s looking straight at you with determination in his eyes.
We found the perfect photo for Desert Rose, which shows her femininity and beauty, and heritage in one shot. We submitted the images we loved with our manuscript and waited for our publisher’s design team’s proofs. When we got the final version of our covers, we were so excited about them; we put them up on our social media sites right away. They generated quite a stir.
I got a message from one of my FB connections that read, “Sorry ladies, this is not your Desert Rose; this is my gelding El Trocadero.” I know there are many Arabian horses in the world and that this horse would resemble another is not unusual. I bred a mare 30 years ago that looked like that photo of Desert Rose.
I replied that the photo probably was a horse that looked a lot like her horse but was more likely a horse in Eastern Europe from the photographer names we’d seen on the royalty-free site. She then sent me the full photo of her horse. Our cover shot image was slightly cropped to fit. Her photo of her horse was the same one we’d selected from the thousands we’d looked at to find it!
We took our discussion Private. She sent me one or two additional pictures of her horse taken at the same photo shoot. They were the same ones we’d looked through on the royalty-free site. I explained how and where we’d gotten the photographs, and the excitement calmed down considerably. She was flattered that her horse was on the cover of a book. She was not upset we’d changed him from a “he to a “she.”
What are the chances of that ever happening? Two writers in Southern California, USA, go through thousands of photographs to select the cover for their book, and they are seen by the very person who owns that horse in a country around the globe from them – in Austria!
Karin, the horse owner, asked me if the book would be available in Austria when it came out. I had her send me her home address. Nancy and I will send her an autographed copy! She’s posted copies on her social media pages.
She and I had a conversation online about her gelding. Karin admitted many people thought he was feminine looking – that was no surprise to us! She told me El Trocadero was the National Champion of Austria at age two in 2010 and the Reserve National Champion a year later.
She says he has a close friendship with a couple of draft horses at the stable where he lives, and when he gets upset about something, she takes him for long walks in the woods. He is to her what Desert Rose is to Brody in our book—Best Friends!
Just a brief update: El Tracadero (our Desert Rose) went to the European Championship show at the end of 2020 and brought home Four National Championships for his owner, Karin. She rode him to the Championships in Native Costume, Ladies Sidesaddle Western, Hunter Pleasure ATR, and Western Pleasure ATR.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Desert Rose was first published with Readers and Writers Book Club: https://readersandwritersbookclub.com