Hi, Candace! Thanks for stopping by today! What is your favorite kind of a pet? Dog, cat, guinea pig? And why?
My answer is the same now as when I could first utter the incredible word: Horse. It’s in my soul to love them—I think it’s that way with some people. Just. There. A fascination for these big, lovely creatures and the yearning to connect with them. It’s genetic: my daughter has it.
How many pets do you have today?
Sadly, none at present: we lost our mini-schnauzer nearly two years ago. And my favorite horse, Winter Winds, long before that.
Have you ever rescued an animal?
Feral kittens that lived in the bushes near the entrance to my ER—we adopted two.
Do you ever incorporate animals into your novels?
Yes. All of my Mercy Hospital books have pet subplot. Critical Care has Smokey the one-eared cat; Disaster Status has three: a yodeling Chihuahua, a horse, and a geriatric goldfish named Elmer Fudd. (Book three) Code Triage features a horse known as Frisco and his pal, a rescued miniature donkey, Tag. Animals are great characters, and they reveal much about their human friends.
They do, Candace! What was your favorite character animal?
Oh, tough to choose: probably Tag, the donkey. He was a victim of abuse (“tagged” by gang graffiti, lost an eye in the incident) yet had such a sweet, nurturing, spirit.
Has one of your own pets been the inspiration for a pet/character in a novel?
Frisco the skittish, “hot house” thoroughbred was a bit like my young gelding, Nate. He’s the rambunctious son of my beloved mare, Winter Winds—and the infamous horse that broke my neck (among other bones). That dramatic true story, “By Accident,” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul and started my writing career. Despite the trauma, I own him for that.
That is an amazing story, Candace! Truly wonderful to see how God has worked in your life. You have such a joyful spirit. I still love how you find humor in things. What is the funniest thing you’ve seen one of your animals do?
My elegant bay mare, Winter Winds, would “laugh”: shake her long, blaze-embellished, face and flap her lips, clown-like, making the steel bit rattle against her teeth. I’d be riding her (singing “Waltzing Matilda,” her favorite song) and she’d trot me along, laughing and laughing for miles. I sometimes wondered if she was critiquing my singing ability.
She probably would have bucked me off if she’d heard me sing. ☺ Is there a secret that only your pet knows?
Winter Winds knew all of my secrets. I would sit in the corner of her stall at night and listen as she snuffled and chewed her oats—talk to her, even cry during some tough times. She would listen, never judge . . . solid, warm, quiet. Just. There. A perfect friend. My best friend.
Ah, that is so sweet. What is your pet’s pet peeve about you?
I insisted that she and I compete in horse shows—braid her mane, shave her whiskers, polish her hooves, wedge her into a trailer and drive down the highways before dawn. She would have preferred to sleep in. Especially after I wallpapered her stall in Ralph Lauren. Seriously. It was beautiful. And our vet was speechless.
That’s hilarious! So, what is your pet peeve about your pet?
I suspect she learned to fake a limp—it always was “cured,” by cancelling the trip to the horse show. Coincidence? Not sure.
Like a kid having a tummy ache. Funny. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us! Now, I’d love to ask your pet a few questions. I’m sure Winter Winds is answering from the Rainbow Bridge.
Hi, Winter Winds! What would be the title of your autobiography?
Spoiled Rotten And Worth Every Single Penny.
Oh, I can tell you gave Candace a run for her money! If you were to write a novel, would your friend inspire one of the characters?
Oh yes. A comic mystery. Candace would play a very gullible but good-hearted woman. Who can’t carry a tune in a bucket. And suspects her horse is conning her. In my friend’s own novel, she’d probably be Dr. Leigh Stathos in Code Triage. In truth, they both deserve a happy ending.
Oh, Candace certainly does! As do you! So, what’s your favorite movie?
Vintage TV Show, actually: “Mr. Ed.” That smart aleck Palomino who had a phone in his stall—now he knew how to live.
You mean Candace didn’t give you a phone in that posh stall she wallpapered? Unbelievable! What musical instrument would you like to play?
Steel drums. Here: listen, if I rattle this metal bit between my teeth, I can get a pretty decent reggae beat going . . .
Oh, very good. Now we know which of you has the musical abilities. ☺ What do you think about cats? Dogs?
I’m okay with barn cats, as long as they don’t have kittens in my stall. I have big feet, too risky. Can’t abide Australian Shepherds, always nipping at my heels—I’m 1200 pounds; do I look like a sheep, for goodness sake?
No, you certainly do not. Where do you (or should I say ‘did you’) sleep at night?
In a stall with a rubber mat floor and a nice mound of soft pine shavings. No phone—but a night light, Dutch door, barrel of chrysanthemums. I’m a little embarrassed about the wallpaper. The vet thinks my friend is crazy.
Yes, well…she is a writer and you know what they say about writers, don’t you? So, what did you do when your friend was writing?
Eat pasture grass. Try to open the gate so I can eat the lawn around the house. Fake a limp when she looks out her office window.
I bet she came running to check on you! What is your idea of bliss?
A warm summer night, a bucket of molasses-laced oats, topped by a few carrots—maybe some apple wedges. And my friend . . . sitting in the corner of my stall. Just content to be with me. Like I’m her best friend, too. Priceless.
Oh, I love that! What is your friend’s idea of bliss?
An autumn evening, dusk, wood smoke in the air: we’ve had a gallop along a cornfield and now we’re walking in quiet solitude. She slips her boots from the stirrups, lets them dangle along my sides. Pats my neck, gives me a long rein. As we head toward home, she starts to sing Waltzing Matilda. And I laugh . . .
Sounds perfect! Thank you so much for being with us today and for sharing your special relationship with us!
Thank you for having us, Leanna—though Winter’s been gone many years, she’s with me, always. Her bridle hangs on a brass hook in our home. And her name appears in the Acknowledgements of my third Mercy Hospital book, Code Triage:
“ . . . in memory of a bay mare named Winter Winds—you gallop on in my heart. Forever.”
Oh, Candace! You made me cry! Thank you again for sharing with us.