The night mares are an integral piece of the Court of Midnight and Deception books, and I knew when I was plotting the trilogy out that I wanted them to play the roles of kingmakers and supporters. But when it came time to write, the night mares stampeded into the books with vivid personalities, specific body language, and a planned arc.
A lot of that was inspired by a real life gelding I rode, who was named Abo.
Abo was a huge gelding–his height specifically influenced Solstice–and he was a retired jumper with more training that I ever knew how to use. (This also inspired a lot of the scenes where the night mares jump and do fancy things that Leila is unable to keep up with.) As an older gelding, he greatly inspired Fax because it wasn’t safe for him to jump much, but he was still impressive enough to school me in riding even though I spent my childhood around horses.
Abo acted a lot like a grumpy grandpa–his body language very specifically inspired the night mares because he went through life with his ears half pinned more often then not, but he was the sweetest teddy bear ever. He nickered whenever he saw me, let me lean into him and wrap my arms around him whenever I’d had a particularly rough day, he’d press his muzzle against my temple after I kissed his nose, and he had the brightest, sweetest eyes.
Unfortunately, Abo died in October, right after I finished Crown of Moonlight. It was unexpected and very sudden, and it broke my heart. It’s been months and I still miss him and still cry for him occasionally, but it’s gotten a lot better. (I now ride a hilarious goofball of a horse who makes me laugh, so I’m still riding!)
The worst time was when I knew I needed to write the Queen’s Crown, and I had no idea how I was going to drag myself through writing about Leila and the night mares–who had to play a key role in several scenes in order to carry out the story properly–when I’d lost the horse that had inspired them.
How was I going to write about these horses, who all resembled Abo in a thousand different ways?
I’m afraid the books did suffer a little–the night mares aren’t in the beginning of Queen’s Crown very much as I was trying to figure out how to write them without crying. But I’m still really happy with Fax and the night mares and their contribution in the second half of the book, and this series will always be very special to me because of what Abo meant to me.
I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got in me for today. Have a lovely week, Champions! I hope you love the night mares a little more after learning about their inspiration.