All of my stories are special to me, but this one more so because it was inspired by my daughter. When she was three, we took a trip to visit family in the western part of New York state. While there, we went to visit the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum in Tonawanda, New York (warning: be prepared for annoying music if you follow the link!). In addition to fascinating exhibits on the carving of carousel horses, the museum had two historic carousels and my daughter rode and rode them, grinning the whole time. She was smitten by them, and for the rest of trip, we visited carousel after carousel—a half-dozen of them at least—across multiple states. I still have fond memories of picking out our horses together, climbing into the saddles, and going round and round to the calliope music.
I was so impressed by the beauty of these machines, I decided to write a fantasy story about carousels and magic. The craftsmanship that went into each horse inspired the idea that the only thing stopping them from galloping off the platform was that they lacked an actual spirit within to bring them alive. The final piece of the story came together when I saw a Gideon’s bible in our hotel room.
Upon returning home, I wrote the first draft, a sprawling 15,000-word manuscript that had way too much detail about carousels (I did a great deal of research through the National Carousel Association). A lot of cutting and focusing got me to the final story. I hope you enjoy “The last Horse” (you’ll need to buy a copy of Aoife’s Kiss to do so), and I hope it allows you to see at these historic pieces of Americana in a different light.