Today on my blog I have the pleasure of welcoming back fellow Aussie author, Renée Dahlia.
Like me, Renée loves romance. Her rural-set novels are full of feisty heroines and strong, intelligent men, wound through with her love of the country, horse racing industry and accompanied by her signature dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics and in her other job, she works as a data-analyst and magazine writer for the horse-racing industry.
When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée spends her time with her partner and four children, volunteers on the local cricket club committee, and is the Secretary of Romance Writers Australia. She is the epitome of the phrase – if you need something done, ask a busy mum!
Renée is here today to talk with us about her new novel in her Merindah Park series, Racetrack Royalty, and her love of the horse racing industry that inspires her work. Take it away Renée.
Thanks Leisl. What I’d like to share with you today is my love of Royal Ascot and how it helped shape my latest novel, Racetrack Royalty.
Why do I love Royal Ascot?
The Dahlia family have now been self-isolating for over 40 days, and with six of us in the house all trying to either work or school from home, there is a low hum of stress that colours everything we do. Raised voices vibrate in my skull more than usual. The stage whisper of ‘use your inside voice’ is often followed with a curse under my breath. But it’s not all bad. We are doing our best to find ways to make this an adventure, because the truth is that we are in a moment of history that will be written about in books one day. Or even now—there seems to be a rush of COVID-19 isolation romances in KU!
In the end, it’s the simple things that I miss: coffee with friends; going to the park without having to take my Medicare cards to prove that we are in fact one family (big family problems!); and going to the races.
Horse racing, at least in some of the world, has been fortunate to be able to keep going under COVID-19 with strict rules around keeping distances between the people who work on course (jockeys, trainers, strappers, veterinarians, stewards), no crowds, and with restrictions on travel. Australia, Hong Kong and Japan have done this really well, while much of Europe, New Zealand and South Africa have had temporary stops to their racing. I have many thoughts about horse racing in America that are too detailed and technical for this post but can be summarised as, ‘they don’t have the same rules as the rest of the world and that’s a problem.’
One of my favourite racing carnivals is Royal Ascot. I’ve never been—it’s a bucket list item—but have many racing clients who have, and they all describe it as an unreal experience, rather like being in a movie. Royal Ascot takes the glamour of horse racing and lifts it to another level. For many years, I worked for Aushorse Marketing and one of my jobs was to track Australian-bred horses and their international performances. When Choisir went to Ascot and beat the European sprinters, not once, but twice within a week, he opened the doors for many others to follow; Miss Andretti, Ortensia, Scenic Blast, and of course, everyone’s favourite rags to riches story, Takeover Target. The horse whose bad knees prevented him from racing until he was sold for $1,200 to a taxi driver in Queensland. Nursed along to soundness, Takeover Target went on to win in Australia, Japan, Singapore, and of course Royal Ascot. In total, he won 21 of his 41 starts and six million dollars!
Royal Ascot and Racetrack Royalty
Racetrack Royalty is based on all these experiences. It pulls together years of staying up until midnight to watch our Aussie sprinters in the Golden Jubilee take on the toffee-nosed English establishment and beat them. The sensational win of Black Caviar gets a mention, as does Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I wrote the book before they decided to walk away from their royal duties, and my editor discussed whether we should keep their cameo appearance. We decided to keep it because it adds a lovely moment to the heroine’s sense of being overwhelmed at all things Royal Ascot.
Thanks, Renee, for sharing that fascinating insight into your writing and the world of Racetrack Royalty.
You can find buy links for Racetrack Royalty at: https://books2read.com/u/bW1KPG
One fast horse, and a whirlwind romance set among the glamour of Royal Ascot.
Shannon Bassett: It’s a long way from Merindah Park, Australia, to Royal Ascot—but that’s where I’ve found myself. The international stud farm that bought my horse, Biographical, want him to race and as his trainer, they need me here. I’m not the top hat and penguin suit type, and the media here don’t get my horse at all—unlike the beautiful woman reading the newspaper over my shoulder on the train today. I’m going home soon so I shouldn’t fall for Ananya, but she understands me as well as horses … and she’s sexy as hell …
Ananya Rahman: According to my middle-class, hard-working parents, I have the world’s weirdest hobby. I love doing pedigree analysis on racehorses, and I spend much of my hard-earned cash every year on clothes for Royal Ascot. Still, I didn’t mean to lecture this cute Aussie about his own horse on the train today—or to be pulled into his fancy world of horse breeders. I’m a London girl and he’s from the other side of the world … but we both forget that when we kiss. What happens when the races are over?
You can find more about Renee and her other books at: http://www.reneedahlia.com/about/