“Horse Country” – taken from my porch in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Uber in Kenya
With me are John Fulton (center) and Wilson King (right) trying out the camels just before setting out on a horseback safari. The character Taylor Warner in Necessary Vengeance is loosely based on John’s good looks and interesting career. All else about Warner is fiction. Apologies to John for such an early, violent exit from the story.
“Then Thad did what he always did to pull himself together. He reached within for the lesson he started learning by foxhunting at the age of twelve alongside his parents. Legs squeezed tightly against his pony’s sides, he would charge across the countryside at a gallop surrounded by the larger, thundering horses of the grown-ups, everyone following the hounds in full cry as they, in turn, chased the hunted fox. He had to avoid holes that would take his pony down and drive him head first into the ground, jump post and rail fences, line fences, coops, logs and other obstacles sometimes four feet high, plunge down banks into streams and creeks, struggle up their slippery far sides, and weave through woods at a gallop avoiding trees that would crush his kneecaps if he rode too close and branches that would swipe him off or slash his face. If he fell, he was expected to get right up, remount, and carry on without so much as a whimper no matter how frightened he was or how much he hurt unless he broke a bone and couldn’t. Over the years of his youth he did fall, but just as many times he made himself get up and thus came to believe he always could.” From chapter 2 of Necessary Vengeance, where the reader first meets FBI special agent Thaddeus Pennock. My son Clark, age 10 in this photo, has lived this description (except fences as high as 4 feet are now rarely jumped).
“He was struck by astonishing green eyes flashing under long lashes backlit by a mane of blazing red hair splayed on white pillows. She had the light complexion of a natural redhead and a sprinkle of freckles. She wore no makeup he could detect. Her impossibly long fingers rested on the tight, white sheet that was molded to the shape of her sleek body under it. She was motionless yet projected beauty and power that dominated the room.” Description of Congresswoman Virginia Wetherill (in a hospital bed) from chapter 5 of Necessary Vengeance. The appearance of Congresswoman Wetherill is largely based on the lady in the photo, Betty Biszantz, one of the members of a horseback trek I took in India. But the similarity ends there. Betty is a delightful person; the fictional Wetherill is more like the cobra.
The Hipodromo de Palermo in Buenos Aires, built in 1908 by French architect Faure Dujarric in the Art Nouveau style then popular. It is the site of one of the great racetracks of the world, plus an underground 24 hour gambling hall with over 2,000 slot machines. In Necessary Vengeance plenty of action takes place at this entrance, and to accommodate it I moved the staircases you see on each side of the main entrance to the center and made them one grand staircase. Dujarrric is turning over in his grave.
“The air was thus perfectly clear, causing pastures, fence lines, pond, and grazing horses to stand out in greater relief, contours to be sharper, and colors to be more vivid…The very center of the pond was painted the sky’s blue, but near the edges the surface reflected the greens, browns, reds, and yellows of late-October’s changing leaves.” From the Epilogue of Necessary Vengeance. This is the pond and pasture on which the description is based, but, as you can see, the horses are in another part of the field and it’s spring, not fall. Poetic license.
On the steppes of Outer Mongolia with Aussie John Spence, who, with his wife Betsy, is always ready for an adventure somewhere on the globe. The small Mongolian horses we are riding are athletic and strong for their size and have as much stamina as any breed I have ever ridden. They were Genghis Khan’s panzers. Perhaps Thaddeus Pennock will get to this remote part of the world in his next adventure.