In 1974 John Egenes rode his young horse across the United States. The book is a recollection, a memoir, and a look back at an America that no longer exists. It’s about a young man coming to terms with himself, and how a little Quarter Horse named Gizmo showed him how to do that. Ride with them on a journey that could only be experienced step by step, mile by mile, with a view from between a horse’s ears.
“What a gem this book is. I loved each and every page.” ~Amazon Review
Do you wish you could see the America of yesteryear? Want to be guided by a gem of a pair? Then you need to pick up a copy of ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’, straight after you meet the human side of the team, John Egnes. John, it’s lovely to see you back at ItsWriteNow.com. What’s been going on since we last chatted in January?
Well, you know what they say… every day above ground’s a good day. I’ve just been keeping my nose to the grindstone, teaching, writing and recording music, and getting well into writing a novel.
Indeed, those are good days! Good to hear that you’re well into a novel. What can you tell us about it, and perhaps a little of your other writing projects?
I’m always involved in songwriting, so that’s an ongoing proposition. As a university researcher in music, I do a bit of academic writing as well. But what’s driving me these days is a new novel I’m hatching that takes place in Mexico and Texas in 1968. It has a lot of wacky characters in it and I hope to coax an entertaining tale out of it all.
I’m sure you’ll manage to get a suitably thrilling tale out of those wacky characters. Wacky characters do make interesting reading! Since we last chatted, do you feel that you’ve started to change how you’re approaching your writing journey from feedback that you’ve received from readers, or others?
The book seems to have touched a lot of people, and I am humbled by so many profound responses from them. It is heartening to have made a tiny difference in a person’s life, and I’m so glad I got the chance to do that, and that it continues.
It’s wonderful that it continues. But for some readers, it hasn’t started yet. So let’s wind back our chat a little so that we can introduce some of our newer readers to the world of the US in 1974, and the life of Man and Horse. For our new readers, this book is all drawn directly from your life, correct?
Yes, this was my life’s learning experience, not only at the time of the ride but throughout the years afterward. So yes, I drew upon my entire life in looking back upon those seven months in 1974.
Gizmo, your horse, is one half of dynamic duo that readers will follow throughout the book. How did you and Gizmo come to be together?
I raised him from a six-month-old weanling colt and he was with me all his life until he passed away at twenty-two. He and I were two peas in a pod, I reckon.
From what I’ve read about the two of you, I completely agree! So, on your ride, how did you and Gizmo meet new people and characters for the book?
Usually very slowly, as Gizmo and I rode up to them. We were blessed with a wonderful array of characters, as varied and wildly different as they could possibly be.
*Laughs* I can imagine! And I’m sure Gizmo loved meeting each and every one of them! One of the big things I got from Man & Horse was that Gizmo was pretty awesome. Was the bond between a man and his horse the most important thing you wanted to share with readers?
There probably wasn’t a single most important thing, though there were quite a few things I wanted to say. Instead of revealing it, I’ll let the readers decide which are the most important to them.
I think that’s a good strategy. Looking back, what do you felt you learnt by sitting down and putting your experiences onto paper?
Besides learning to deal with a huge cathartic undertaking, I have learned a lot about the book publishing business, though I’m still a babe in the woods. Fortunately for me, I’m the curious type and always look forward to new things.
Was learning how to write, how to deal with the emotions and all about the book publishing business exhausting, or were you energised by the process?
It can do both sometimes, but mostly it energizes me. I reckon that’s why I’m writing this at 3:15 in the morning.
So, when you’re sitting down at 3:15 am, for example, tapping away on a tale at your keyboard, what are you usually thinking about?
I try to picture myself in the scene… like I’m literally there. And since I’ve always talked to myself, it’s not much of a stretch to place myself in a scene with other characters and talk with them. I do wish I were better at character dialogue, though.
Well, practice makes perfect. And with a new book in the midst, you’ll certainly be getting a little practice. With this new book, do you feel that you’re starting to see a progression in your writing and voice?
I hope it has. We’ll see. The proof’s in the pudding. I try to work to my strengths, to stay with what I know, but I also try to push my boundaries a bit, too.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned that you weren’t really into creating an author brand. Have you pushed your boundaries at little to explore branding?
I’m not much into branding or any of that sort of thing. I just do what I do and let others worry about what it is and what it isn’t.
Fair enough, best leave it to the experts! And let’s take a few minutes out from pretending we’re writing experts and have a little fun with some quirky questions! Let’s start with what is your favourite word?
Kaybo Swabber (“KIE-bow SWAB-buhr”): the person who cleans the portable toilets.
Oh, that’s a new one for me! And I haven’t met anyone employed in that area either, but there’s still time! What is your zodiac sign?
Aries, Aries rising, with moon in Aquarius
Very precise! Are you left or right-handed?
Ambidextrous. Always confused, though. I do some things right handed and some left-handed, and I often forget which one I’m supposed to be using.
*Laughs* I’m not sure there are any hard and fast rules, whatever works should be fine! We know that you love to do lots of different work. If our readers wanted to check up on some of the stuff you’ve been working on, where can they find it online?
Well, you might want to check out my Bandcamp site, where you can download all my music for free. It’s at:
I’ve been putting up a few excerpts from “Man & Horse” on the website, so if you haven’t read the book and want to take a look at it, go here:
I’m still at the facebook pages and on Twitter and GoodReads, so please stop by and say hello. Indeed we will! But until then, I’m afraid we’ll have to say goodbye, but let’s say goodbye on a high note. And the high note of today will be your favourite line from Man & Horse. What can you recommend?
“Unrequited love to the sound of a steel guitar.”
What a great picture of leave in our heads from this interview! John, thanks so much for chatting with me today and letting people know about Gizmo, and I hope to hear from you soon when we chat about your next book!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America ( ASIN: B075821TZ7 )‘.
Want to find out more about John Egenes? Connect here!