Meet Four In Hand “driver” Hannah Hooton, a multiple award-winning author and screenwriter based in UK.
Back in the day, Hannah traveled around Australia, roaming from one racing stable to another as a strapper, taking care of racehorses like what we Americans call a groom.
Afterward, her spirit of adventure and, in her words, “the exuberant imagination of a girl with an empty purse and a passion for a very expensive sport,” eventually became her debut contemporary romance. At Long Odds.
That thirst for adventure prompted her to explore indie publishing, which resulted in the Amazon bestselling Aspen Valley contemporary romance series, featuring a National Hunt racing yard in rural England. As of this writing, her fourth book in the series titled Making the Running just released.
Hannah says, the books may be read and enjoyed as stand-alones. We also want to mention these novels are written for an adult audience in the equestrian romance genre.
Without further ado, let’s pass the reins to Hannah, our Four In Hand driver:
1. You’ve won the Pan-Emirates Lap of Luxury Airlines contest! You get to pick one event to attend: the Kentucky Derby, the Calgary Stampede, Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe, the Dubai World Cup, or the palio di Siena, or The Melbourne Cup? Which would you choose and why?
This would be a toss up between the Kentucky Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. I’ve always wanted to do the Triple Crown trail. I love the fanfare and pomp that goes with it! On the other hand, the Arc holds a special place in my heart, being the richest turf race in Europe in my favourite country. I love French racing – all of my books have a French flavour to them, whether it be gorgeous French heroes or gutsy French-bred horses – so I must follow my heart and opt for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
2. Favorite movie or TV horse ever? Can be real or animated. (You also KNOW we want to know why?)
The Black Stallion, without hesitation. It’s not often that a film – especially one about animals, which often cater solely for a much younger audience – can keep me as enthralled now as it did when I was eight, but this one manages it in spades. I loved the relationship between Alec and the Black on the island then how the story twists in a completely different direction, going to the glitz of the horse racing sphere and the excitement of the match race. Nothing comes close – apart from Phar Lap maybe, but that one made me cry too much.
Back to the Kentucky Derby (or your favorite race) – would you rather own the winning horse or ride the winning horse?
3. My favourite race is about as similar to the Kentucky Derby as carrots are from potatoes. For a start, it’s run on turf. Second, it’s over double the distance at three and a quarter miles. Third, it involves jumping twenty-two broad walls of birch. And lastly, horses can come back year after year after year to try win it again. The last to do so was Kauto Star. Have you guessed what it is yet? Yes, it’s the Cheltenham Gold Cup! And as much as I like to picture myself soaring over the jumps and fighting out a gritty finish alongside Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy, I think it’s a lot more feasible to imagine myself as the winning owner (and even that’s at a stretch). The Gold Cup is like the Soccer World Cup for jump racers. To own a Gold Cup winning horse would be beyond my wildest dreams. It features quite regularly in my Aspen Valley series, especially in my latest book, Making the Running, in which it is the lead character’s main goal.
4. Favorite horse book ever? (The “why” is implied.)
Probably Polo by Jilly Cooper. It’s a great tome of a book, with so many characters – both human and equine – it needs a ten page cast glossary at the front so you can remind yourself who is who. It’s a bit sexy, but what really stands out are the characters. So many of them, yet each individual is captivating in their own unique way. The horses (and dogs and cats) all have their own quirky personalities, too. I didn’t know anything about polo before reading it, but the sport is explained so well in the book that I came away able to have a conversation with polo folk and have them believe I’d been following the game all my life! It even inspired to take up polo (although that didn’t last long given that I have notoriously weak wrists and had trouble controlling the mallet), but I did get quite involved with the polo crowd and I realised that all the glamour, the swag, the gorgeous Argentines and the charming Englishmen were all true. It’s a book that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, growl and keep you gripped by the action.
Hannah Hooton’s website: http://hannahhootonbooks.blogspot.com/
The Cheltenham Gold Cup, coming up soon on March 8, 2015. Scroll down past the ticket package info for more info about the race: http://cheltenham.thejockeyclub.co.uk/events-tickets/whats-on/gold-cup-day
Jilly Cooper, the author of Polo, has authored other spicy equestrian romances with an international, A-list vibe. Check out her website: http://www.jillycooper.co.uk/
Why we call this series Four In Hand:
Four In Hand is what we call our short interview series inspired by the sole driver who who controls four horses pulling a coach or a wagon, a four-in-hand.
The way it works here, an interviewee receives a list of a dozen or so horse-related questions. Some questions assume horse experience, some don’t. Of those questions, said interview subject picks four questions to answer. Our previous Four In Hand drivers have been novelist Tamsen Schultz and travel writer Nancy D. Brown.