Monday, June 16, 2008

The reason I write

Posted by Lisa Marnell

When I was twelve, I read the book, Night of the Red Horse, by Patricia Leitch. I am reading it now. I continue to be awed by this work of fiction, and wholeheartedly inspired by this author.

Last night, after I FINALLY put this book down, three-quarters of the way through, I wondered what it was about this story that made it so fantastic. I got it! I figured it out. This novel is a delight – terrifyingly so – because of two things:

Setting and Suspense.

I googled Patricia Leitch and found the following:

Patricia Leitch born 13 July, 1933, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, is a Scottish writer, best known for her series of children's books about Jinny Manders and her wild, traumatised Arabian horse Shantih, set in the Scottish Highlands. The 12 books in the Jinny series were published between 1976 and 1988 by Armada.

I felt like a detective as I thought about Patricia Leitch. She was between 43 and 55 when this series was published. I was lucky, I suppose. I was between 7 and 19 when she wrote them. I WAS her audience. She never met me. I doubt she ever will. But I can say with absolute certainty that she changed my life, and I don’t mean because she inspired me to write, (which she did), but because she let me hope that there are places I want to go to. There are adventures waiting for me in the years to follow. And, maybe, there’s a touch of magic out there.

As I continued to read about Patricia Leitch, my heart sank as I read this line:

The Ginny at Finmory series is currently out of print.

I suppose I was lucky. Tweens and teens today would love these books. I read on:

The Jinny series marks a significant departure from the traditional 'tweedy' horse and pony stories aimed at middle-class children. Jinny is a scruffy, willful, tom-boyish girl who doesn't have any social or romantic aspirations. Serious social justice issues are raised throughout the series, forcing Jinny to confront her own prejudices and character faults.

Underlying the series is a sense of
predestination deriving from Celtic mythology. Jinny is portrayed as a gifted or chosen child with special and dangerous tasks to perform, guided by mysterious and sometimes frightening characters such as the Red Horse (agent of the Celtic Horse Goddess Epona) and the Walker. In this way it resembles the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper.

Thank you, Patricia, for writing all of your wonderful books. This forty-year-old wanna-be writer is forever grateful and the twelve-year-old girl somewhere inside me has seen the world differently because of you.


Anonymous said...

Lisa, I am 33, and also read the Jinny series as an 11-12 year old. I was looking through my books to find something light to read as I nurse my newborn daughter in the middle of the night, and decided to re-read these books. You are so right--they are so wonderful, and I enjoyed them as much as I remembered, the setting, Jinny's life with Shantih, and the underlying love for all animals and her family is so enduring. I searched online to see if maybe Patricia Leach had written more in the series (I was so hopeful) and that is how I found your blogg, thanks for the info, and good luck with your career. I share your disappointment that there are not more of these great books, but I have my collection of 12 to share with my three daughters one day!
Miriam Morataya

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