<!– [if supportFields]> SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1<![endif]–><!– [if supportFields]><![endif]–>AGE INDIFFERENT
Some years ago, a friend read one of my books and observed “What people don’t understand about your work is that you’re writing for adults even though your characters may be young.”
Age appropriateness was a continuing issue in publishing until Harry Potter and now, since the digital revolution, it’s all but disappeared. Readers can easily find books that suit their interests, and categories have lost the importance they once had. Is a book a Young Adult because of the age of the characters or the situations? What makes a book adult fiction? Age or content? Was Harry Potter meant for children or for readers?
Do classifications matter as long as the story is compelling and satisfying?
In my equestrian fiction, Bittersweet Farm, the sisters were seventeen when the series began, and now are both eighteen. Home schooled, they didn’t have the social life of a teenager. There was no dating, no classes, no pressure to conform. Talia Margolin and her sister, Greer, are in the process of becoming adults and taking on the mature emotions and responsibilities of an adult. This is not always easy and they both often miss the mark they wished to achieve.
The audience for the Bittersweet series is largely adult readers. They tell me they appreciate the serious approach to life, horses, and competition. They appreciate that the information about horses and riding is correct, but also respond to the way the characters treat their horses and each other with kindness and respect.
Over the last eight books in the series, Talia and Greer have faced old demons, reexamined choices, mourned the loss of friends, families and innocence, and have created new relationships. There have been many lessons both on and off horseback. New horses have come into their lives and others have left. Knowing when to let go and learning when to hold on tight is part of becoming an adult.
The Bittersweet Farm books are for readers. No one’s age makes a difference.
Bittersweet Farm 1
When a handsome new trainer arrives at Bittersweet Farm, the competition between half-sisters is no longer limited to the show ring. Talia Margolin’s life has been marked by events completely beyond her control–her mother’s death, her move to her father’s horse farm, the retirement of her show horse.
Now she faces the arrival of a new coach whose job is to get Talia’s half-sister, Greer, qualified for the finals at the National Horse Show. Greer is brutal on trainers but Lockie Malone is different. Handsome, talented, and with a will of hardened steel, Lockie can be an immovable object. He also becomes the agent for change in the lives of everyone at Bittersweet Farm.
For seventeen year old Talia, change has never meant anything but loss. Will this time be different?
An hour later, we were looking at the X-rays he had taken.
“You can see some bone changes here and here.” Dr. Fortier pointed. “And he’s got some arthritis. It’s normal for a horse his age.”
“There’s nothing we can do, is there?”
“Make him comfortable,” Dr. Fortier said. “You can give him some supplements, Bute for pain. You can hack out in the woods once in a while, but his show days are over.”
“Did I do this to him?”
“Age did,” Lockie replied.
“Horses only look strong and everyonestarts to wear with age. It’ll happen to you, too,” Dr. Fortier said with a smile.
I didn’t feel like smiling and went into Butch’s stall while Lockie and the vet went outside.
We had been together since before my mother died. She’d been ill for a few years and it was obvious to me that she was never going to get better. She had a transparency overtaking her where each day she faded a bit more.
My father had been managing almost everything for those years as it became progressively more difficult for her to conduct her life. He made the arrangements for the hospitals and the doctors and begged her to marry him again and again until she finally gave in so that my future wouldn’t be in question.
He moved us to the farm and to give me something to try to take my heart and mind off what was happening, Butch was found for me.
Greer hated it. Blaming my mother for destroying her own family, she didn’t want me in the house. That September a boarding school in Virginia became her new home; she was as happy as Greer ever is. Her mother is still happily living in London on the extremely generous divorce settlement my father offered.
I had Butch and quiet and ever-present apprehension.
Then the time came when even with full time nursing, my mother had to go to the hospital and she never came home.
My father returned to the city, a nanny was brought in for me, and a trainer. I lived alone for the rest of that school year. When Greer came back from Virginia, we started in on the serious equitation and junior hunter training.
The rug had been pulled out from under me again and I buried my face in Butch’s neck and cried.
“Talia,” Lockie said from behind me. “He’s retiring, not dying.”
“He’s my best friend.”
“We’ll get you a new friend.”
“Idiot,” I said, turned and pushed past him.
Barbara was born in New York City but now lives at Black Cat Farm.
Envisioning a career as a globe-hopping photojournalist, after college she determined her hop muscles weren’t global strength so turned to writing.
No life experience is safe from her keyboard and Barbara has proved that being a magnet for story material may be overstimulating to live through but it’s all ultimately research.
Comment on the blog and be entered into the giveaway for a copy of Mounted; Bittersweet Farm 1. Barbara will announce the winner later today in the comments section, so be sure to check back.