True Colors

Behind the Book

In many ways, True Colors is a valentine to the women and girls who love horses. When I was a young girl, I lived to ride. My first pony, Silver Birch, and I were inseparable. Weekends, after school, and all summer, I spent long hours on horseback, riding through the trails near my house. And then there were the horse shows.  At first it was 4-H, and later, the breed shows. Like so many other thirteen-year-old girls, I worked all summer to buy a new bridle or a blue Stetson hat or a piece of sterling silver to decorate my saddle

Many of my favorite childhood memories are tangled up with horses. My mom and I spent countless weekends together, driving from one arena to another.  She was always there, standing at the rail, wishing me luck.  She clapped when the ribbons were handed out (of course, I was mortified then by her exuberance), and at the end of each class, she walked back to the barn with me.  I handed her too many things—lead ropes, bridles, saddle pads, empty Coke cans—but she never said a word, just quietly stood there beside me and helped…

I lost my mom too early in life, so early that I didn’t understand for many years how truly special those years we spent together in dusty barns were, how much her encouragement would ultimately mean to me. She would say quietly that I was improving, that I was doing well, and then she’d give me a tip on how to change leads better or how to soften my touch on the reins.

Now I look back on those days and I smile.  I’m a mother myself, so I know how willingly she went along with what I wanted to do.  And a phrase from those years comes back to me often: Lead changes.  I know now how quickly we can change direction and find ourselves in unexpected places, and I know how life can circle back on itself and lead you back to where you began.  Decades later, when I signed my son up for riding lessons, I found myself standing at one of those arena rails, watching him move past me, and I could feel her beside me, whispering, “Yeah, this is what it was like; this is why I did it…”
For a while, like so many girls, I gave up on riding. I moved on, went to college, started my career, and there was no time—and no acreage—for horses. Then I married a cowboy—not his career, but his passion just the same—and suddenly I found myself back where I’d begun, in a world filled with barns and arenas and weekend rodeos.

True Colors is set in that world, and it’s a place I know well.  The novel is about other things, too—a crime that shocks a small town, a terrible flaw in our legal system, sisters who have lost their way, a boy who doesn’t know how to become a man until he meets his father—but behind all of that, I hope you’ll enjoy your visit to a world you might not have seen before, a special corner of Washington state where girls still join 4-H and look forward to the County Fair and sleep in a dusty old stall every now and then.