Quiet and watchful, Rosalyn Berne graces those who stop by her author table with a warm smile. Rosalyn is a Ph.D in field of Science, Technology, & Society (STS) at the University of Virginia. But still waters run deep and many years ago she found she had a gift. She speaks with horses.
Her books detail her experiences with different horses and while some may be unbelievers, they cannot doubt the strength of passion that Rosalyn feels. I had the pleasure to sit near her at the Equus Film Festival in New York and speak to her in depth. As a result, I asked her to share her story with an interview.
There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ― William Shakespeare, Hamlet Click To Tweet
About Rosalyn Berne
Q: How long have you been writing?
The first thing I ever wrote that god published was actually a speech on the subject of women balancing careers and home life. It was published by Vital Speeshes of the day back in 1984. Since then I have done all kinds of writing as a scholar; academics expected to publish journal articles and books on their research. And of course, I’ve been writing books about horses for about 8 years.
Q: What genre(s) do you write?
Besides academic writing, I have writtten one science fiction novel and three SF short stories. Also two books about horses which are non-fiction (and one of those is in the body-mind-spirit genre). At least quarterly, and more often if I can, I write a blog on my work and life with horses.
Q: Fiction, non-fiction, blog? What do you write and why?
I write because it is deeply fulfilling. There are times when I get entirely lost in what I am writing; an entire day can go by as I write. That tells me it speaks to some deep part of me, and I am honoring that when I write.
Q: Did you grow up with horses?
Yes and no is the answer to that question. I grew up in inner city Philadelphia. When I was 11 my parents sent me to summer camp where there was an equestrian program. While there I feel in love with an Arabian gelding named Alladin. When it was time to return home for the school year I was in grief. After that, I read horse magazines, collected horse figurines, and volunteerd to much stall at a stable I culd walk to form my home. I fantacized about having a horse of my own, but it was not to be. Not, at least, until 40 years later, when horses came back into my life in a very big way!
Q: Where did you go to University?
I studied at the University of Virginia, where I earned BA and MA degrees in Communicaiton Studies, and a PhD in Religious Studies with a focus on bioethics.
Q: Do you have your own horse? How did you meet?
Nearly two years ago I adopted a horse named Raven from the Virginia Equine Welfare Society. I was visiting their facility as an “equine empath” (a.k.a. animal communicator) to help them with a horse named Ruby. Ruby was having a very diffficult time adjusting. While there, Raven came up behind me and leaned her chin over my shoulder saying, “I am the horse you’ve been waitng for. Take me home with you.”Three weeks later, I went back for Raven. But since we lived in the center of Charlottesville, on an urban lot, we had to board her. The facility was lovely, but a 45 minute drive from our home, and so I only saw Raven on weekends. That wouldn’t do for me. So we sold our city property and moved onto a horse farm about 20 miles from Charlottesville. But Raven needed a pasture-mate so when the VEWS people asked if I would adopt Ruby, we said yes. My husband worked hard to help me care for the farm ad horses. But began to feel he’d like a horse of his own. That’s when we found Nash, a gelding. So now we have three horses and live on a farm.
Q: What is your favorite horse-related memory?
I have so many. I hope your readers will read my first horse book, When the Horses Whisper. In it I’ve shared all kinds of wonderful horse-related memories. Or, sign up for my blog, where I also share stories. But for the purpose of this interview, consider Raven’s adopting ME to be a favorite horse memory.
Q: What is your level of expertise with horses?
When it comes to riding, I am a relative novice. I can ride okay, but only simple trail riding. When it comes to communicating with horses while on the ground, I seem to have a gift, and feel myself to be an expert.
Q: What is your favorite horse breed and why?
I tend not to pay much attention to breeds. I just love horses.
On Books and Writing
Q: How do you manage work, writing, and horsing around?
Not very well. In fact, I’m thinking “something has to give.” This was the subject of my very first published piece.
Q: Do you have a series? How many books do you plan for the series?
Yes. It’s a series of three books about my experiences in communicating with horses: The first was When the Horses Whisper (2013). The second was Waking to Beauty (2016). The third is titled Walking with Raven and I hope to finish writing that this spring for publication early fall, 2018.
Q: Do you write full time or part time?
I currently work full-time as a university professor. 40% of that work involves research and academic writing. My horse writing is something I have to squeeze into my life. My hope and dream is to retire from university work in the next few years, so that I can focus full-time on my communicating with horses, leading horse-communication clinics, and writing about those incredible creatures.
Q: When or where do you get the most writing done?
For the horse-related writing, I try to take mini-retreats two times a year, during which time I devote an entire week to writing up to 12 hours per day. But I have to retreat away from the farm, and go to a secluded place (an inspirng and beautiful palce where I have no responsibiliites, like feeding and mucking).
Q: Do you prefer eBooks or physical copies? Why?
As an author, I like fo rmy readers to have the choice, so my horse books are availabl in both. As a reader, I am torn. There’s nothing like curling up with a physical book. But with ebooks you can flip around to suit your mood.
Q: Self-publish or traditional publishing? What are the pros and cons that you have found? Would you recommend?
I’ve done both. Either way, an author has to do and fund their own book promoting, unless you are an established top-selling author, in which case a publisher will have a budget for that. The benefit of a publisher, especially a relatively small one, is being able to establish a relationship with that publisher, someone who is supporitve and encouraging of our writing. That’s been my experience with my publisher and it’s been great.
Marketing and Promotion
Q: Book signings- yes or no?
I’ve done them at Barnes and Noble and local book stores in Virgina and California. Best if there is a book talk before hand. Those events can be great.
Q: How do you market your books?
Radio shows, festivals, magazine and newspaper stories.
Q: Do you have a video promotion for your book(s)? Please provide a link if you have one.
Where can readers find you?
Where can we buy your books?