An Author Interview & Book Review with Sarah V. Barnes, She Who Rides Horses

Today I bring you and Author Interview with Sarah V. Barnes about her new book She Who Rides Horses via iRead Book Tours!

Q: How did you do the research for your book?

A: As a former academic historian, I’m used to delving into secondary sources and then following the footnotes to more sources, and so on and so on. Because of the story’s time period – 4000 BCE – I had to draw on research in a number of different disciplines besides history, including archeology, mythology, anthropology, paleo-linguistics, genetic studies of ancient DNA… it was all fascinating. Travel to the region where the story takes place was not an option, plus a lot has obviously changed over 6,000 years, so for an understanding of the natural environment, I had to rely on images from Google Earth, plus studies of ancient geography and climatology. My aim throughout was to be as accurate as possible, even where I had to use more than a little of imagination.

Q: Which was the hardest character to write? Which was the easiest?

A: My characters just seem to show up, and then it’s a process of getting to know them. Some are easier to get to know than others. The main character, Naya, didn’t even have a name at first. Still, she was probably the easiest to write about, at least in the first book. As I’m working on the second book, in which she is learning some hard lessons about herself, it’s taken more effort to understand her – as if often the case with teenagers. Sata, who is Naya’s mother, was fairly easy to get to know – although she still surprises me on occasion. The hardest character is probably Aytal, who is the young man who falls in love with Naya. I don’t have as much experience with what goes on in the mind and heart of someone like him, but I’m intrigued. 

Q: Your book is about the first person to ride a horse. How did you come up with the idea?

A: I’ve been involved with horses most of my life, so of course I’m curious about anything to do with them. From a historical standpoint, domesticating horses arguably did more to change the course of human society than any other technological development in the past 10,000 years – so how did that actually happen? For a historian who is passionate about horses, it seems like an obvious question. Still, it never occurred to me to investigate it – the time period is outside my field of expertise, for starters. Not until I had stepped away from being a professional historian and gone back to my childhood love of horses did I end up in a place where the story – in the form of a novel – could find its way to me. The short answer to the question is that I did not come up with the idea – the idea found me. 

Q: Do you have another profession besides writing? 

A: Over the course of my life I’ve been a management consultant, a professional historian and college professor, a horse trainer and riding instructor, and an equine facilitated coach. With She Who Rides Horses, my background as a historian and my experience with horses have come together, along with my life-long love of historical fiction. Looking back, the path makes a lot of sense, but I never would have predicted ending up where I am, as a novelist.

Q: What is your next project?

A: I’m nearing the end of the writing/editing process for the second book in the She Who Rides Horses series. There will be a third book, for sure, and possibly more, depending on how the story unfolds. At some point the novels will be released as an audiobook and ultimately, I’d love to see the story made into a film or limited series.

About She Who Rides Horses:

She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe (Book One) by Sarah V. Barnes
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  267 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Publisher:  Lilith House Press 
Release date:  March 2022
Content Rating: PG.  It contains two kissing scenes and the death of an animal.

Set more than 6,000 years ago, She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe (Book One) begins the story of Naya, the first person to ride a horse.

Daughter of a clan chief, bolder than other girls but shunned by the boys because of her unusual appearance, Naya wanders alone through the vast grasslands where her people herd cattle and hunt wild horses for their meat. But Naya dreams of creating a different kind of relationship with the magnificent creatures.

One day, she discovers a filly with a chestnut coat as uncommon as her own head of red hair. With time running out before she is called to assume the responsibilities of adulthood, Naya embarks on a quest to gallop with the red filly across the boundless steppe.

​Unwittingly, she sets in motion forces and events that will change forever the future of humans and horses alike.

Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads

About The Author

Sarah V. Barnes, Ph.D. is both an historian and a horsewoman. When Sarah is not writing stories, she practices and teaches riding as a meditative art. She also offers equine-facilitated coaching and wellness workshops.

Sarah holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and spent many years as a college professor before turning full-time to riding and writing. She has two grown daughters and lives with her husband, her dogs and her horses near Boulder, CO.

connect with the author: website facebook ~  goodreads



My Thoughts on She Who Rides Horses

When I saw She Who Rides Horses I immediately knew I wanted to read it.

She who rides horses was enriching right from the first chapter. 

I loved the detailed history and how Sarah V. Barnes touched on the deep relationship between girls and horses. There is such a symbolic dynamic between the two and Sarah V. Barnes explores it wonderfully. 

The historical background was seamlessly interwoven and very well done. It was easy to lose myself in the world that Sarah V. Barnes brought to life before my eyes. I’ve never researched this time frame so I can’t comment on its accuracy, but from the way Sarah V. Barnes crafted it; you can tell she put in a lot of time and effort to get things right based on the vivid locational descriptions, tribal customs, and general conversations between the characters. 

It is definitely worth the read and I so enjoyed how she portrayed Naya and Bhokos (means Flame).  It brought forth a lot of wonderful memories of growing up riding and the relationships I had with my horses. 

*I volunteered to read this book in return for my honest feedback.

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