Today I want to welcome another author friend of mine. Julie Campbell writes urban fantasy different from most of what we see hitting bookshelves. Her love of animals comes through in her novels...as it does here. Please welcome, Julie Campbell!
First off I wanted to thank Seleste for having me stop by. Thanks!!! I’ve only guest blogged once before, so I’m very excited. I wanted to share a little about what had shaped my writing life, so here it goes:
In my humble (ok it’s not humble) opinion, those are the major things that have shaped my life. If I didn’t like to read, I wouldn’t write, if I didn’t ride I wouldn’t have the ideas I have today, and if I didn’t write I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I hated to read when I was very young. I can’t really remember why, but I suspect it was hard for me. Then one fateful summer my best friend stayed with us instead of going to daycare while her mother worked. Naturally that was the summer that we decided we hated each other. In retrospect that was very important, because that’s the summer she learned to love to read. She didn’t really have anything else to do because I was being an ass. Of course once school started we were best friends again. She shared her newly discovered love of reading with me. This was the third grade and I started reading voraciously. I have never stopped.
I’ve been in love with horses since I can remember. Most of my childhood favorites involved horses: The Black Stallion, The Saddle Club, any fantasy where the characters rode horses, even things like Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. I don’t remember a lot of that book, but I do remember it really didn’t seem like a kids’ book, but it had a horse so I read it anyway.
I also loved to ride. Ever since I was tall/old enough to go on pony rides my parents would do their best to get me on horses. Once I was big enough to take lessons, they scraped together the cash to get me instruction. The place I rode did lessons by quarters, and I could only afford to ride once a year, but I took lessons as much as I could until I got to high school. There, I was too busy with track and science Olympiad and my interest in horses waned a little. I had this vague feeling that if I could ride every week all year I could really get somewhere with my riding, but I knew it wasn’t possible and a slight sense of frustration, combined with school kept me from begging for lessons when my parents wanted me to stop.
Through this whole time I wrote. Nothing serious, and very intermittently, but I always liked to tell stories. My friends and I had a play we were writing, something silly and with star wars characters, but that was a lot of fun. I also loved it at sleepovers when we would tell serial stories, each person picking up where the others ended. Of course mine usually involved killer Portuguese Men of War. I have no frigging idea why.
Things started to come together in the sixth grade when one of my reading teachers, Ms. Fox, said those fateful words: “Julie, someday you are going to be a writer.” I thought she was full of it at the time, and it took six more years, but suddenly the bug bit me, and it hasn’t let go since then.
I moved to Colorado and suddenly there were horses everywhere. I was dying. All these horses and I couldn’t ride. I was a college student, lessons were out of the question. I know I could have worked more than one job to make it happen but with the amount of homework I had, that wasn’t a good option. I went silently nuts until one day I said something to the right person and the next set of fateful words were spoken: “Hey, I have a friend…” And so I met Fran. I rode with Fran, learning a ton from her, refreshing my rusty skills and gaining new ones. The horse I have now, who very well could be called my muse if anything could be, lived, unused and untrained at Fran’s barn and one day I started working with her. I fell in love. She was perfect. Still is. Perfect for me anyway. With help, I trained her and she has carried me miles and miles down mountain trails, over jumps, around arenas, across open plains and just about everywhere else. She has also carried my imagination to other worlds on horseback and sparked the idea for the first novel I ever actually finished. I have written three novels based on that idea now, the two original ones and then the rewrite I recently completed which is the beginning of the series that will eventually be published.
Without Sabaska, my horse, I don’t think I would be where I am now. She is my sanity when the day job is kicking my ass, or my personal life goes to hell. She’s the anchor in my life and she refreshes my mind when I’m burnt. A half hour of riding is more therapeutic than anything else I’ve ever done. A day spent in the mountains with my horse will keep me going for months after, and my imagination goes wild with ideas when I’m spending time with Sabaska, or any horse really. Like writing, horses are in my blood.
I write what I like to read, which is fantasy, but though most fantasy has people riding around on horseback, very few actually have horses as main characters. Mercedes Lackey is one notable exception and I love reading her books. I believe I have read almost every fantasy involving horses that is out there, certainly everyone I could find. And there aren’t enough. I read once that if there is a novel you want to read that hasn’t been written, then write it. So now I write urban fantasy with horses, and of course I write urban fantasy with vampires too. Even though the subject is different, those ideas also come to me while I’m riding. I also have a short story series about Doc the vampire hunting Border Collie and his development is a whole different blog post. You can read some excerpts and Doc’s stories on my website: www.writerjacampbell.com . Feel free to stop by and leave a comment if you like what you see.
Also, if you feel like seeing what I had to say today, I'm over at Julie's blog talking about Supernatural.