Take a bit of Macbeth, add in a touch of a surprisingly successful 17th century woman painter and then mix a magnificent champion mare into the cauldron. You’ll then come up with the creative, award-winning author Linda Lafferty of Missouri Heights.
Chatting with Lafferty at the Strang Ranch as she completes a dozen horse-related tasks seems like trying to catch a rainbow. With her long silver hair and mischievous grin, Lafferty reminds one of a quintessential Carbondale resident: eclectic, talented, athletic and intelligent.”
“I enjoy diving into the research for a book I’m planning,” Lafferty remarked.
“While writing ‘The Girl Who Fought Napoleon,’ I uncovered a few secrets,” Lafferty grinned.
Lafferty is well known in Carbondale as an award-winning novelist, specializing in historical fiction. She has won two Colorado Book Award for “The Drowning Guard” and “The Shepherdess of Sienna.”
In additionon to her literary accomplishments, Lafferty competes successfully in equestrian competitions. “I’ve been riding my entire life, and horses are my passion.”
Lafferty stood hosing off her nine-year-old, 16.3 hand high (five feet, four inches) mare Shiner as she shared her experiences, “Polo has always attracted me. The crack of the polo mallet striking the ball and the intensity of riders and horses are so thrilling.”
Lafferty first played polo at age 17 while attending Lancaster University, England. She won first place in the War of the Roses competition between Lancaster and Yorkshire. She has played at most of the polo fields in the Valley including Cozy Point Ranch and the former Preshana Farms in Carbondale, now owned by the Aspen Valley Polo Club LLC.
Lafferty, who also enjoys stadium jumping and dressage, now primarily competes in cross country events like those at the Strang Ranch. Cross-country courses contain several dozen obstacles built to look natural like those found in the countryside, like water, trees, logs, ditches, and riverbanks.
She fox-hunted in Scotland for the first time. Later at age 19, she started riding with the hunt at Strang Ranch. “No. We didn’t kill anything at Strang’s,” she explained.
Lafferty co-authored her latest novel, “Light in the Shadows” with her husband Andy Stone. The book, published earlier this year, tells the compelling story of a supposedly undiscovered painting by 17th century Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The discovery revealed a torrent of intrigue, betrayal and murder.
Her upcoming work “Fierce Dreamer” also touches the artistic world. This true story surrounds a 17th century 17-year-old girl from Rome who undergoes severe trauma. She does rise above her tragedy and the professional prejudices against women to become a celebrated and highly successful painter. The novel is scheduled for publication in May 2020.
And there’s more in the pipeline for Lafferty. Imagine tackling the true stories of Shakespearean villains Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who both actually lived in 1000 A.D. in Scotland. As yet untitled, the novel presents a kinder, gentler married couple.
A Roaring Fork Valley educator for 20 years, Lafferty graduated from the University of Colorado with a master’s degree and a PhD in education. But writing has always been her dream profession and now it is her life’s work.
“I made this decision to keep on writing no matter what, till I die. And I meant it.” That was 27 years ago. Despite having hundreds of rejection letters, Lafferty persevered.
“Because when I write, I start thinking more clearly. I go into a narrative voice I hear in my head, and I narrate the world around me. I love that voice. It just clears my mind – you get into this rhythm, and everything is more centered. There’s peace and you feel like you’re doing what you need to be doing.”
Her lead characters are often strong women; those she describes as “shining lights.” Just like Lafferty herself.