By Thomas Pluck
What if Secretariat was cloned? A young man rents out small boats on Sarasota Bay, but his easy-going life ends when he accepts a colt from his dying father. He enters the underbelly horseracing with crooked trainers, loan sharks, and a wealthy sheik. But his biggest problem might be the illegal colt.
That’s the premise of SECRETARIAT REBORN by Susan Klaus, which questions our loyalties to family, our duty to the rules, and our responsibility to achieve greatness.
Susan, tell us a bit about your background and how it inspired the book.
I’ve always been an animal fanatic, showing cats, grooming dogs, and working for a veterinarian for a decade, but for the last 13 years, I’ve bred and raced Thoroughbreds. Every horse breeder looks at their newborn colts and prays one will be another Secretariat, so the inspiration for the book was a no-brainer. If you’re going through the expense to clone an animal, why not clone the greatest horse of all time?
What drew you to horses and horse racing?
I was born addicted to horses. I bought my first one when 16 and could drive a car to a stable. And Thoroughbreds are a breed apart, not only elegant and noble, but so driven to lead the herd, they’ll risk their lives to win. And horse racing was on my bucket list.
What kind of obstacles is Christian up against? Have you run into some of these in real life?
My poor, young, naive Christian, he faces so many obstacles, one is fraud charges if caught racing the cloned colt. Thoroughbred clones can’t be legally registered or raced. In real life, I’ve fired my share of bad trainers and have meet mobster-types and sheiks at the track.
Do you explore the ethics of cloning, as least in the arena of horse racing? Do you think genetic experimentation will affect the sport in the near future?
Cloning is already a big issue in the media and courts. Several quarter horse owners sued the registries and won so they can breed and race their clones. But the Jockey Club, the registry for Thoroughbreds, is very strict. I doubt a clone will ever run in the Derby. On the ethics, is it fair to cheat nature and create a clone, but then again, wouldn’t it be great to watch past champions compete again?
What do you love about Florida that makes it a unique setting for your book?
Beside a warm climate, white beaches, and Disney, Florida is known for its horses and racing. Affirm, a Florida-bred, was the last Triple Crown winner. I was also born, raised, and live in Florida. Authors are told to write what they know, so I took that advice and wrote a horse racing book that takes place in Florida. Through my main character, I tried to show what makes Florida unique. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY said I have “an infectious love of the Florida setting.” I agree.
Will we see more of Christian? What’s next in store for him?
Absolutely, but in the sequel, he’s a different Christian, wiser, unstable, and tragic. Because of horrific circumstances, he takes on the fin trade to save sharks from extinction. The story has him in the Bahamas, Florida, Costa Rica, and New York. It’s fast, hard-hitting, and controversial. The novel is called SHARK FIN SOUP.
Thank you for dropping by. Do you have any other books or series to tell us about?
My futuristic fantasy novel, FLIGHT OF THE GOLDEN HARPY, published by Tor/Forge, will be released next June. If you like Christian, you’ll fall in love with Shail. He has wings and is part-animal, part-mortal. In 2010, the story won best sci/fi in the Fla. Writers Association contest.
And Oceanview Publishing has optioned SHARK FIN SOUP, the sequel to SECRETARIAT REBORN, and the thriller will be released next August.
Susan Klaus, a Florida native, has breed and raced thoroughbreds for the last thirteen years. SECRETARIAT REBORN is her first thriller, but she also writes fantasy, her novel, FLIGHT OF THE GOLDEN HARPY was optioned by Tor and is due out in 2014. She is the host and co producer of The Author Connection Radio Show with 18 million listeners in 148 countries and founder and president of the Sarasota Authors Connection Club with 230 member.
To learn more about Susan, please visit her website.