Four In Hand: Author Kay Kendall

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Kay Kendall Four In Hand
Author Kay Kendall with the only type of horse that doesn’t make her sneeze.

Our Four In Hand driver is mystery author Kay Kendall, who takes us back to the late 1960s with Austin Starr, a Texas girl who follows her draft resistor husband to college in Toronto.

Kay grew up in the bucolic Flint Hills of Kansas but dreamed of returning to her father’s ancestral home of Texas and of becoming a latter-day Nancy Drew or John le Carré. Instead, higher education and circumstance led her down a long and winding road to graduate studies in history at Harvard, to Canada, international corporate communications, work in Russia, and finally, finally, her beloved Texas.

Today Kay is an international award-winning PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Now she writes historical murder mysteries.

Growing up during the Cold War, she recalls the drama of an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) installed near her hometown in Kansas. A fan of historical mysteries and spy novels, she sets her own stories in the U.S. and Canada during the Vietnam War.


Plus, you can almost hear the ’60s music as you read her books. I bet you already did when you read her bio.

Take it away, Kay!

  1. Desolation Row book cover
    Kendall’s first novel

    Did you have a horse or pony in childhood? (Name, breed – if known, color, most memorable experience

For as far back as I can recall, I was horse crazy. I begged and begged for a horse but never got one, but I couldn’t fault my parents’ logic. I was deathly allergic to horse dander and hay, so would never be able to care for a horse. I had to content myself with reading books on horses, collecting their china replicas, watching them on TV and in movies, and painting pictures of them. One of my playmates and I played horses together. We took turns being the horse and the trainer. To this day I can still snort and whinny convincingly.

  1. Western or English?

The dozen times I’ve ridden a horse, it’s always been Western. I doubt if I could cope with an English saddle, but I’d give it a whirl anyway. What I could never ever do, though, is ride side saddle. In fact, when I see women riding side saddle in films, I get angry. Imagine forcing women in olden times to ride like that! (Yes, I am a feminist.)

  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?
Rainy Day Women book cover
Kay’s second book

I would pick the Kentucky Derby, hands down (all four of them, ahmm). In fact, being at Churchill Downs in Louisville on Derby Day is on my Bucket List. Just thinking of all the great American thoroughbreds who have run there makes my heart race.

  1. Favorite horse book ever? (The “why” is implied.) (Impacting my favorite color and breed of horse)

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell stands out among all the other horse books I read while growing up. As a rule, I rarely reread books, but Black Beauty is a total exception. I’ve lost count of the times I have read it, but I do know I’ve internalized many lines from its pages. That book has influenced my favorite color of horse (black, naturally) and breed, too. Once I saw the noble Friesian breed in action, it immediately replaced the Arabian as my favorite. To paraphrase another famous book title, I could truly say the following—Whatever I learned, I learned in reading Black Beauty.  

“If a thing is right it can be done, and if it is wrong it can be done without; and a good man will find a way.” Anna Sewell, Black Beauty


Far out, Kay. 🙂 Thanks for the drive.

You can learn more about Kay and Austin at Kay’s Facebook page and her website. 



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