Dovetailing Mythology in Fiction with a Modern Setting
Last year I ran across a Choctaw legend called about “The Wind Horse” (http://www.indianlegend.com/choctaw/choctaw_002.htm). It is a wonderful myth that centers on how the horse came to the Indian people. There are many legends about this among the Native population in the United States and Canada, but this one particularly appealed to me because of its message of unconditional and limitless love.
When I wrote The Bone Trail, I used the basic tenets of this legend to structure my entire plotline. In the Choctaw version the Wind Horse rescues a crippled boy from a trap, then comes to love the boy. When the boy dies and is transported to the Hunting Grounds, the Wind Horse cannot be parted from him, and goes with him to the other side into death.
In The Bone Trail, the two main characters, Kate and Ludlow, are both (in their own ways) as damaged as the crippled child in the legend. Ludlow carries the burden of severe alcoholism, a failed marriage and the disastrous career choice of becoming a Washington lobbyist ; Kate is saddled with the scars of physical and emotional child abuse as well as a destructive relationship with her fiancé. They are both damaged people; and, to a certain extent, both move through parts of their lives like sleepwalkers, or, as one character describes it, as the “Walking Dead.”
Through the course of the book, they both find healing through their relationship with each other, as well as their mutual passion for horses. In the course of this process they learn that in order for a person to be truly happy, they have to be in tune with the needs of the spirit. They come to realize that when you allow other people to define who you are, you will never find happiness. The Wind Horse winds through the plotline, subtly leading them to these conclusions (as well as helping them to solve a mystery and murder).
I enjoyed taking the legend of the Wind Horse and using it to demonstrate what a healer unconditional love can be.
It is a wonderful legend.
Nell Walton is an avid horsewoman and also owns two wild horses, both of which came from a herd near Elko, NV. She is also the founder and managing editor of the online equestrian news magazine, The AllHorses Post (www.allpetspost.org/allhorsespost). She has degrees in journalism and biology from the University of Arkansas, spent many years as a professional journalist and worked as an intern for former President Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. She lives in East Tennessee on a small horse farm with her husband, four horses, one donkey, two cats and two dogs. The Bone Trail is her first novel.
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Inspired by actual events, The Bone Trail is the story of investigative journalist and horsewoman, Kate Wyndham, who is sent to northern Nevada to do a story on the disappearance of two wild horse advocates. When Wyndham attempts to gain information from the FBI and local authorities she is stonewalled.
She turns to Jim Ludlow, a local rancher who lives on an Indian Reservation near where the advocates disappeared. Ludlow, a Shoshone Indian horse “whisperer” agrees to try to help Wyndham and they begin a search for answers that may cost them everything the hold dear – it may even cost them their lives.