After many years of working at the racetrack, Linda now manages a small herd of retired racehorses, who usually give her enough time off to paint and write. She lives on a small farm in Southern Ontario with the horses and her Border Collie and is best known for her art
Interview by Elise Cooper
Q. Where did you get the idea for the series?
Linda: For me, it is somewhat embarrassing. When I was a child, my mother read to me The Black Stallion. At the age of eight I started to write my own book. I did not get the idea from the “Heartland” series about horses since I developed this series before Heartland ever happened.
Q. Were you ever involved with horses?
Linda: Yes, most of my adult life. I started working with them at the age of thirteen. At eighteen I galloped them. I also spent some time on a farm. The last fifteen years I have my own farm where I have a breeding operation with clients and help raise the babies. I have delivered horses. It is a combination of excitement and stress.
Q. What if the breeding goes wrong?
Linda: There is a lot of money involved with racing horses. In Book 3 of Good Things Come one of the young horses, Feste, died of heart problems during a race. I think it is less than 1%, but every now and then it does happen. A lot of times during post-mortem they cannot determine the cause of death. There is no pattern to figure out what causes it. There is no correlation between the way the horse is bred and the young ones dying. A dog has a litter with many puppies where a horse has one foal, once a year. It is harder to get feedback on the breeding than dogs.
Q. In your later books you discuss ovarian cancer and abuse. Why?
Linda: Ovarian cancer is directly related to a friend of mine. She was diagnosed and has survived. Those scenes in the book are a tribute to her. With the abuse I wanted to explain why the female lead, Liv, is an introvert.
Q. How much of you is in your characters?
Linda: I am an introvert like Liv. Part of me is Liv and part of me is Nate who has my humor. They are both horse people like me. I put in these characters some of my personality and some of my experiences. I am not so lucky to have found a new Nate yet.
Q. How would you describe Liv?
Linda: Very serious and responsible. Horses is something she understands. She is reserved, aloof, prefers animals to people, sarcastic, guarded, compartmentalizes, sometimes lacks confidence, and has a sly sense of humor.
Q. How would you describe Nate?
Linda: He feels too much. He tries to hold himself back. He has a case of imposter syndrome because he has lost his confidence and direction. He is a gentleman because he is willing to wait for Liv. Nate is also steady, reliable, friendly, and loyal.
Q. Tell us about that interesting quote by Liv about women jockeys.
Linda: You are referring to this one, “The constant security by the trainers, the owners, the horseplayers in the grandstand…all of them sure they could ride a horse better than her.” I wanted to be a jockey but at twelve years old I was 5’6 and 120 pounds. This option was not one for me. Everyone tends to be a Monday Morning quarterback. Women jockeys have it better in Canada than in the US. I just finished a biography about one of the very first women jockeys, Diane Crump, and the hell she went through in the sixties. It is better than it was but there is still attitude and push back.
Q. It is great how you put tidbits about horses in the books, blending the facts into the story. Tell us a bit about horse care versus the sport.
Linda: It is sad because I have been involved with racehorses for forty years. There are still people out there who care more about the money. It is part of why I am not so involved anymore. Those directly involved with the horses are the ones who care versus the big trainers who want to win at all costs. Liv would put the horses before the sport.
Q. What’s the relationship between Liv and Nate?
Linda: Liv is not aware of her physical attraction and spent a lot of time in denial. There is a long burn. They both spend a lot of time fighting the attraction. He comes to the realization a lot sooner than she does about their feelings. He is willing to give her space. She has a hard time expressing her feelings and trusting. They have this bond around horses, the common ground. They have the same passion for the horses. The starter point for their meeting in the first place was horses.
Q. How would you describe Faye, Liv’s best friend?
Linda: She likes to protect her heart and comes across as a girl who just wants to have fun. She had a rough past when she lost her parents and brother. She appreciates a horse but is also afraid of them. She is little lost because everyone she knows are horse people including her older brother. She is bitter, resentful, outspoken, protective, direct, and has fears about tying down. She is pretty much the direct opposite of Liv. Faye might have found her soulmate in Will. They work together with a restaurant.
Q. How would you describe Will?
Linda: A nice guy, reliable, funny, caring, and a music person.
Q. How would you describe Liv’s sister, Emilie?
Linda: Liv is the one who runs the farm while Emilie is the entrepreneur. Her major is physiotherapy, and she applies it to the horses. She is more stable and had a clearer picture of life than Faye and Liv. She is direct, self-sufficient.
Q. Why the Labrador retriever in the novella?
Linda: Emilie latched on to a rescued lab. There were characters in the first books who had labs. I think they are amazing dogs. I did train dogs. They are the best dogs. I have had border collies, but I do want to have a lab, a black lab. I guess I live vicariously through Emilie.
Q. Tell us a bit about painting versus writing.
Linda: I do both. They are different and I use a different part of my brain. When I write I do not paint. I started painting when I was four. When I was eight, I started writing stories. Professionally painting is easier, and I have more confidence in doing it. I feel more vulnerable when I write. I operate a small thoroughbred lay-up time, and when I’m not busy with the kids in the barn, I’m in my studio painting them or writing about them. I like to use my artwork, when I can, to support the retirement group in my area: LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement. In my books and paintings, I hope to capture the part of the horses and dogs that touches our souls. My paintings are in oil, oil pastel and pencil, where I strive to capture not only accurate anatomy, but the spirit of the horse as well. When I write and paint, I want to show how horses are not the workhorses and war horses of the past, but are confidantes, teachers, comedians and much more. It is my goal to share these traits with the viewer.
Q. What’s your next book?
Linda: It will be more of Emilie’s story where she will get a romance of her own. Her passion is re-training horses, which will be in the plot. I am also thinking of writing a prequel to bring readers into the story, maybe late spring.
Review by Elise Cooper
Meet Linda Shantz, extraordinary artist and author of the Good Things Come series. All the books’ details are authentic with characters and events realistic and engaging. The author uses her own experiences to write captivating stories. She currently manages a small herd of retired racehorses, with enough time off to paint and write. She lives on a small farm in Southern Ontario with horses and her Border Collie. To view her artwork and all six books plus a novella, Merry Little Thing go to her website, www.lindashantz.com.
The main characters Liv, Nate, Faye, Will, Emilie, Dean, and the horses Chique, Claire, and John Jay will tug at the readers’ hearts. They will fall in love with the characters, both horse and human. Schantz takes people on a journey throughout each story. It is not only a horse racing drama but also a story about family, friendship, and relationships. All the books will conjure up feelings from sadness to anger to laughter. People do not have to enjoy horses or horse racing to read this page-turner.
Linda Shantz's Latest
Good Things Come
If Liv wasn’t such a control freak, it wouldn’t have rubbed her the wrong way when the farm’s new exercise rider stepped in to resuscitate Chique, the first foal out of her father’s favourite mare. But when she drops out of vet school to get her jockey’s license in New York, intent on coming back to Ontario to ride Chique in the Queen’s Plate in three years, he’s the obvious choice to keep an eye on the filly.
Nate’s content to watch Liv go, even though he’s got similar aspirations – when he’s not talked out of them by voices from his past. His growing bond with Chique might earn him Liv’s approval and give him the fresh start he’s looking for, but that’s as involved as he’s getting with the boss’s daughter. Not that Liv’s been receptive to anything more.
Liv’s determined to keep their relationship professional, no matter how much Chique draws them together. Because racetrack romances are messy…and nothing can interfere with getting Chique to the Plate.
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