Wednesday 1 August 2018


We loved catching up with writer Vanessa Harbour about her new book FLIGHT and how she approached writing it... what a treat!!

I am an academic which means I work at a university and I lecture on creative writing. Best job in the world! Almost everything I had written until FLIGHT had been linked in some way to my academic work. I was talking to my editor, Imogen Cooper, and she told me to go away and write whatever I wanted as the novel I was working with her just wasn’t working.

Sounds great doesn’t it, but don’t you find when someone says to you that you can write whatever you want, you suddenly start panicking. Well so did I at first, just a little bit. I thought what shall I write? What if I can’t come up with another story? Scary isn’t it? But then I thought, this can be great fun. I can enjoy myself. I am lucky that I have lots of friends who are authors like Cathy and I knew that sometimes they felt like this too, so I reminded myself just how much I love writing and got on with it.

The story of FLIGHT is a combination of things I love... horses and history. More specifically a story based towards the end of Second World War. It is an adventure story as my characters must lead Lipizzaner horses across the mountains in Austria to safety. This is because a Nazi officer has shot one of the horses while searching for Jakob who is hiding. He is hiding because he is Jewish. His guardian has helped him hide for a long time and wants to continue to keep him safe. As they start to ride across the mountains they are joined by Kizzy, who is a Roma girl, and has also been hiding from the Nazis. They must overcome several obstacles on their way. Can Jakob and Kizzy save the dancing horses?

I had great fun writing this story because it was about things I am passionate about. I’ll tell you something though. I did have to edit about five chapters out of the story as they might have been fascinating if you loved horses like me, but they’d be of no interest to anyone else! Sometimes this is what you must watch for when writing. You need to remember who your audience is likely to be and what they might want to know about. It is the same with writing historical fiction as you do loads of research and it is easy to bog the story down with all the details you have found. It is important that your research appears with a light touch in the narrative. Sometimes it is so hard because you want to share an intriguing detail, or so you think, with the reader but it is not relevant to the story, so you can’t include it.

When I was young I used to love reading and I would escape into books often reading a book in a day. I confess it is my dream that one day somebody feels the same way about my books, they curl up and get so engrossed in the story that they also read them in a day. Happy reading everyone!

I can confirm FLIGHT is a fantastic read... a real adventure classic, and a must-read for anyone who loves horses or historical fiction. And it's out NOW! Have YOU read a book recently that really hit home? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

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