The Airs of Tillie by Barbara Casey – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Barbara Casey will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The small town of Wellington, Florida, has the distinction of playing host to some of the wealthiest people in the world as well as the most prestigious equestrian events. King Charles comes from England to watch polo on the fields where he once played as Prince. The United States Olympics Equestrian team trains and competes there with teams from other countries. In sharp contrast, just down the road, due west, are some of the largest sugarcane fields in the world. The people who work these fields are for the most part poor. They come from many cultures and backgrounds, but they primarily come from Haiti, Jamaica, and the United States. This combination of horse owner and cane worker is an unusual dichotomy, and it is a blend of these things that makes up the world in which my story’s main character, Tillie, the 11-year-old daughter of a sugarcane field foreman, lives.

In The Airs of Tillie, Tillie Turpning lives in an imaginary world that is filled with beautiful horses, polite people, and luxurious homes. Her real world, however, includes living in a cane foreman’s small tenant house with her over-worked mother, an autistic sister, and a rebellious older brother who is searching for answers within a radical Muslim group. When Tillie is unexpectedly forced to assist in the difficult birth of a new foal, she proves that her determination and belief in herself will allow her to accomplish anything she sets out to do.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A gentle breeze stirred, scattering red and white petals from the potted geraniums that were decorating the field. The crowd noises softened. Arabesque picked up her gate into a slow gallop around the outer edge of the jumping arena in response to Tillie’s silent command, settling into her own pace, her natural rhythm. Then she felt the pressure of the young girl’s knees on her sides—another command, another signal from rider to horse. Arabesque began galloping faster, her eyes alert and focused on a split-rail fence banked with hedges. Faster, faster, up, and over, and Arabesque once again resumed her slow gallop.

This time she felt the reins pull slightly to the left. She angled her strong, muscular body in that direction and once again picked up speed. Three stone walls, each positioned in front of the other, blocked her path. “You can do it,” she heard the girl whisper. As Arabesque approached the first wall at a full gallop, she felt the girl shift her weight, working with her own, blending her body movement with that of the horse. Over the first wall, the second, and then the third. Arabesque snorted loudly and bobbed her head with exuberance. But she wasn’t finished yet. Again the girl pressed her knees, silently instructing and urging Arabesque to perform.

They negotiated three more jumps: the oxer, the tiger trap, and the vertical gate. So far their score was perfect. The crowd was totally quiet now as they watched the champion jumper obey the commands of its young rider.

The water hazard was next. Tillie and Arabesque had watched three other horses lose points on it, and one horse had to be disqualified for refusing to jump it at all. “You’re not afraid, Arabesque,” the horse heard Tillie whisper. Faster, faster the horse galloped toward the hazard. Up she went, once again feeling the young girl’s tensed body stretched in union with her own. They were over it. Arabesque looked across the field and saw Molly, her companion horse, watching.

“Good girl, Arabesque. Good girl.” But Tillie wouldn’t let Arabesque relax. The horse felt pressure, this time coming from the girl’s heels and knees. Arabesque continued in her rhythm. Two more jumps to go, and they were also the most difficult. Arabesque felt the girl urge her to pick up her gate. She didn’t understand that they had only a limited amount of time to complete the jumps or otherwise lose points. She only sensed she had to hurry; and that if she didn’t, for some reason the girl would be disappointed.

Arabesque felt the girl press her knees harder into her sides and turned toward the obstruction. Bales of hay were stacked into a five-foot barrier. Extending from both ends were fence rails of varying lengths. Arabesque perked her ears forward, her breathing was heavier now. Closer and closer she galloped toward the obstruction until she felt the girl’s body tense. Through the air they went, and when they landed on the other side, the barrier was still intact.

Murmurings could be heard from the crowd. So far, this young girl who had never ridden in competition before had scored higher than any of the other contestants in the Youth Division. There was one jump left—the dreaded spiderwort—and only fifteen seconds remaining on the clock.

About the Author:

Barbara Casey is the author of over two dozen award-winning novels and book-length works of nonfiction for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Several of her books have been optioned for major films and television series.

In addition to her own writing, Barbara is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.

In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas.

Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with three cats who adopted her: Homer, a Southern coon cat; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

Website | Barbara Casey Agendy | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

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  1. Thank you for hosting me and for your interest in my latest young adult novel – THE AIRS OF TILLIE. I wish you and your bloggers my best. ~Barbara

  2. Thank you for hosting today!

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