by Linda Chamberlain
I have no excuse for taking as long as I did. The gestation period for an elephant is about 2 years and so surely I could have produced a bit more quickly.
But YES, I’ve got there – and here is a picture of my baby.
My debut novel. Now on Amazon.
Inspired by one of my greatest, unsung heroes.
Like all proud mothers I think my book is more beautiful than anyone else’s. The cover is so pretty. So awesome. Will Jessel took that photo just as the sun was setting. We must have looked a strange party going up the hill to that famous beauty spot – in period costume. But the horse didn’t spook. Much. The bonnet and the rider stayed on board and the dashing man leading them remained calm.
I forgot to tell Will to take pictures that were book shaped. He produced countless brilliant shots that were horizontal but one or two amazing ones that were vertical (if that’s the right term!) In one he had persuaded the sun to settle on top of the hero’s head. I don’t know how he managed it. It had to be the cover!
Over to art director, Ben Catchpole, who put up with me while I fussed about type faces. Type sizes.
I daren’t tell you how long it took me to research and write but finally, we had a book.
THE FIRST VET
A story of love and corruption – inspired by real events
About a man called Bracy Clark, one of England’s first-ever vets who fought all his life against animal cruelty. Today’s riders of barefoot horses will sometimes have experienced a feeling of isolation – professionals and other owners are often hostile for some strange reason. I’ve often wished vets had more knowledge, sympathy or understanding of what I was trying to achieve for my horses. If the veterinary establishment had listened to Bracy Clark 200 years ago, things would be very different for us today because he proved the harm caused by shoeing. He fought tirelessly against shoeing, bits, spurs and whips but he was ridiculed by those in charge of the veterinary college who tried to suppress his work. He in turn accused them of corruption. I had to make him the hero of a novel.
Researching his life and work took me to the Royal Veterinary College library and countless times to the British Library. The more I read his books, the more I was impressed. The man was gifted and he was ahead of his time.
He was one of the first pupils of the newly opened veterinary college in 1792. Until Clark and his peers began practising there were no vets, only farriers or the cow leech who might patch up a wound or carry out an operation. There were no pain killers, no anaesthetic and not much understanding. Horses were dying very young. There were complaints in Parliament. Into this scenario comes Bracy Clark – a man who dared to say horse shoes were shortening their lives, a man who complained the loads they pulled should have been given to an elephant.
He insisted a horse that is free of pain will lead from the thinnest piece of string. He complained that the hoof was “treated more as a senseles block of wood than as a living elastic organ”. And he worried that in exposing the harm of the metal shoe he had “discovered an evil for which there was no remedy”.
He gained quite a following but was ridiculed by the veterinary establishment who wouldn’t let him present his findings or sell his books to the students. Clark reported that the vets “condemned him unheard and without examination”. Professor Edward Coleman described Clark as an enemy of the college. But why? My research came up with a few reasons for this criminal suppression but I mustn’t spoil the plot!
You can see why I love him and why I wanted to give him another chance to be heard. I think you will love him too.
As always I want to hear from you so leave me a comment. If you read the book and are happy to review it on Amazon, I will be very grateful.