The Inspiration for the The Final Straight by Charlotte Howard (@shy_tiger)

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Thanks for hosting today! I thought I would talk about by inspiration behind The Final Straight and the What-Ifs of life.

I should point out that The Final Straight was the first full-length novel I wrote. It kept being rejected though, so got re-written and edited and re-written again, until it was finally picked up for a contract.) I’d just finished reading a certain trilogy when I started tapping away at my keyboard. It had been suggested that I tried to write a romance. Previously, I’d been creating poetry, and had attempted to write crime fiction, so I thought romance would be a bit of a challenge. But what would I write about? How could I find two people who fall in love? What’s the storyline?

I grew up around horses – I lived, breathed, and smelled like, them – so when it came to writing my first novel, I knew that horses would feature. Great. I had a setting; a livery and eventing yard. Being a fan of eventing, I knew the basics, and it gave me the good excuse of getting to watch more TV and buying more Horse and Hound magazines. But what about the story? I sat down and thought about my past, my experience with horses, my experience with men, and my jobs.

I have a “What If” in my life. It’s okay to talk about it, because my husband is well aware of him. He was good-looking, hard-working, loved animals, and made me laugh. In otherwise, he was verging on my ideal man. We also worked together. I was 19 and lusting after a colleague. He became a fairly good friend, someone I could watch TV with on a Friday night whilst gorging on chips and chocolate (not at the same time), and not be made to feel fat. We enjoyed the same books, the same music… We got on great. We were both HORRENDOUS flirts, very much like Max and April in The Final Straight. Always teasing each other, making snide comments… And I was so scared of ruining that by acting on my feelings.

I left it too late. He started dating my flat mate, and not long after I met my husband. I still liked my What-If though, so made the decision to not only leave my job, but to leave the county and move down to Somerset to start afresh.

I started to wonder – What if? What if I had made the leap, and told him how I really felt? Would it have worked? Would we have ended up married with kids? Or would I have been left heart-broken? I decided to weave it into a story – all my feelings, all my worries, all my fantasies. And The Final Straight was born.

Of course you can’t have a good love story without a catalyst, and I figured a love-triangle would be just as good. What better than a bad ex coming into your life? Oh yeah, I’ve had a couple of those… So I meshed them all into one hideous form and created AJ.

The Final Straight is a story of friendship and love, one interwoven with betrayal, lies, and secrets.


The Final Straight by Charlotte HowardExcerpt:

April chewed on her thumbnail and stared at the computer monitor. She re-read the email for the umpteenth time. Or more accurately, the name at the bottom of the screen. Anthony-James Willington-Priest.

If she was truthful with herself, Mr Banks removing three horses from the yard was the least of her concerns. When he’d stormed into the office, yelling the odds and telling her how long it would be before Hell froze over, she had to admit to being relieved.

Mellie Banks may have looked good on the ground, with her long legs, slender waist, and blonde hair, but on top of a horse, she looked like a battered sack of potatoes. She never listened to a word April said; always too busy searching the yard for a glimpse of Max. Like most women who frequented the yard, she had fallen into lust, and he had been only too willing to take advantage.

April pressed her tongue against her front teeth and sucked in a short breath. She shouldn’t have berated Max the way she had, but opening up her email to one signed by AJ had stunned her and sent her hurtling back to memories she’d long since buried.


Blurb / Buy Links

April Miller works for her best-friend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.


Bio / Links

Charlotte lives in Somerset with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets and can always be found with a cup of tea in her hand. When she’s not writing or running around after small people and animals, she loves to eat curry and watch action films.

Charlotte is an active (and vocal) member of the Yeovil Creative Writers.



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  1. Phaedra

    Great blog the book sounds interesting.

  2. Glenys

    I’m always intrigued to read how a story is born, and yours sounds like such fun! The What If? game is a favorite for my writing, too 🙂 Enjoyed the excerpt, and congratulations on publishing with Tirgearr!

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