My work-in-progress, Night Of The Puma, is a romance novel with somewhat of a gothic feel that is set in the wilderness. It’s about a cougar (a really, really big cat) that stalks a stable full of horses that’s located in a forest. When we owned a wilderness resort we had horses because our youngest daughter wanted a horse (We somehow ended up with more than one. Go figure.) So when I sat down to write this romance (that has the gothic feel I often experience in the woods), I knew I had at least a rudimentary knowledge of horses but I found myself surprised at how much I actually learned during those years.
One of my clearest horse-type memories was of a winter’s day when I was alone. I glanced out the kitchen window and saw something moving in the corral. It looked like a dog but upon closer inspection I recognized it as a coyote. And it was stalking the foal in one corner of the corral, unseen by the mother in another corner. I panicked and ran outside, climbed through the gate because I was afraid to take the time to open it, and chased the coyote away.
I’ll never know if that incident was the inspiration for Night Of The Puma, but I’m glad that was the only time I ever saw a coyote near the horses. And, though we knew there were timber wolves in the area, during the years we lived there I only saw one pair and that was a good two miles from the resort.
And years before the existence of cougars was confirmed in Minnesota, hunters shot one crossing the lake ice one winter. It, too, could have stalked the horses though none ever did.
So I have mixed feelings about cougars and timber wolves. As a lover of the wilderness and all of it’s citizens, I do not wish to see any wildlife species go extinct. But I’m not sure how I’d feel if either a wolf or a cougar came near when I had horses in my care. So I ended up transferring to my heroine in Night Of The Puma those same mixed feelings in this wilderness romance novel.