Kevin Arnold’s novel The Sureness of Horses was sparked by real life.
The book—a second-chance romance between a poet and a horsewoman—was inspired by Kevin’s relationship with an equestrienne who became his wife. Kevin swears it’s not autobiographical—he’s never had a liaison with his best friend’s wife. It’s fiction! Read more on Amazon.
Kevin wanted to give readers a realistic snapshot of life in current-day Silicon Valley.
The novel describes both sides, often unflinchingly, of fast-paced, highly-technical, increasingly-expensive Silicon Valley. The valley reminds him of the time of Dickens—the best of times and the worst of times.
The best of times includes English-style foxhunting.
Rather than foxes, in Northern California the established hunt mainly chases coyotes. Still, they follow the hounds using traditional hunt language and apparel. With his wife’s persistent coaching, Kevin learned excellent horsemanship—enough to earn the right to wear scarlet in the field with their local hunt group, Los Altos Hounds.
The worst of times include outlandish housing costs and quick-trigger personnel policies.
One of the major characters is fixated on getting her daughter into the Palo Alto School System. Meanwhile, the book follows her husband through the process of getting fired, starting with a “probation period.” Happily, he later gets a higher-paying job complete with stock options, which allows him to purchase a house in Palo Alto. But that job, too, has problems—problems that overtake her husband.
Although best known as a poet, Kevin started in fiction.
Early on, Kevin published a short story that got him invited to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Back then, poets and fiction writers met at the same time and attended each other’s craft lectures. Kevin grew so enamored of the poetry crowd, most notably Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman, that he vowed to return to Squaw Valley as a poet. With the help of Denise Levertov at Stanford, he published his first poem, started studying poetry with Galway Kinnell at Squaw Valley, and went on to publish sixty poems and serve as the President of Poetry Center San Jose for twelve years.
In the novel, Diana, a committed Christian, saves the day.
Her generous offer to take in an orphaned child provides the turning point for the novel. Wade is a churchgoer as well, but his behavior is less exemplary. Kevin the author was confirmed in the Anglican church and is now an Elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Kevin originally wrote The Sureness of Horses to complete his Master of Fine Arts degree.
He’d worked in industry before that, a manager with IBM. He presented an early draft of the manuscript to his wife as a birthday present. Kevin has since presented the novel at workshops across the country, resulting in countless re-writes. Responding to thoughtful criticism, he softened the narration from first-person to third.
The novel contains many subtleties about class.
Throughout the book, small nuances are presented with humor. For example, when Wade makes a successful sale, his boss surprises him by giving him an envelope containing ten crisp hundred-dollar bills. Proud, Wade wants to show Diana but he hesitates, realizing that amount of money isn’t significant in her world.
As much as he’s learned from poetry, Kevin feels he’s learned more from riding and going out with the hounds.
Many of the things he’s learned, especially about the special relationship between humans and animals who are in our care—are hard to describe. But the joy of fulfilling expectations such as “If you find a gate open, keep it open; if you find a gate closed, once you’re gone through it, make sure you close it,” and “if you fall, get back right back on the horse,” have taught him things he could learn no other way.
Kevin loves hearing from readers.
He’s most responsive to emails at [email protected].