Bringing history to life

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By Kirsten Laskey

“I’ve always written,” author Kate Horsley said. She started in the fourth grade, when she wrote the class Christmas poem. Her career took another step when she published her first novel, “Crazy Women,” in 1992.

Horsley explained while earning her Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico in American studies, she was fascinated with the stories in history and wanted to write about them but in a non-academic way.

After publishing “Crazy Women,” she said, “I was hooked on the research and hooked on story writing. It’s wonderful.”

Horsley is eager to share her excitement towards literature and writing as well as her life as a writer during the upcoming Authors Speak presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library.

She has had lengthy experience in this field.

Horsley has written six works of historical fiction, has started writing plays and is currently working on a book about the mathematician Pythagoras’ daughter.

“I love history,” Horsley said. “I think that it’s just fascinating to look at, especially women in history. Their real lives ee just what real, ordinary women have been doing.”

What she has discovered is that although most people are not placed in a historical spotlight, they are far from “ordinary.”

Whether surviving through a war or journeying to unknown lands in a covered wagon, people in history rise to the occasion, Horsley said. Those who have endured struggles and made sacrifices are the heroes, she said.

To learn about these extraordinary people, Horsley travels. She has been to Ireland and is planning a trip to Italy and Greece.

She explained she does a lot of research, down to the tiniest detail, while focusing on people who are not that well known and as result, brings them back to life.

Other books have been a majored influence on her own work. “Reading has influenced my writing,” she said. “I would love to do for people what reading has done for me.”

Ursula Le Guin and Herman Hessa are two writers that have impacted her work. Another person who has had influence on Horsley is her mother, Alice Horsley Parker.

“My mother was a big influence,” Horsley said. “She was an artist and an avid reader.”

Reading made her mother’s life rich, she said.

Additionally, Horsley said her mother lived in time when being a female artist was living “outside the box.”

Other influences were teachers who would “glow” with excitement toward history and literature.

Horsley’s own excitement towards history and literature has made her dabble in many different areas of writing. For instance, she said has started writing plays, which is “a lot of fun.”

“It’s just exciting to write lines and have actors read them and give them life,” she said.

She is also working on a book about the mathematician Pythagoras’ daughter. Horsley said Pythagoras was like the Wizard of Oz; he was a philosopher and mathematician, but also a con man and cult figure. Although he had a son and daughter, he chose to share his secrets with his daughter.

As a result, Horsley said she is curious about this woman. What kind of life did she have?

Horsley described the book as a long-term project.

“I just think I have a lot of curiosity about people who have endured really amazing times and what inspiration I can get from their lives ee and I hope for the reader, too,” she said.

The library will be the perfect place to share this inspiration.

“I love going to libraries because to me libraries are almost sacred places,” Horsley said. “They’re wonderful places to go to because you don’t have to purchase anything ee people don’t have to be sold something ee they can just be there to learn something and to be entertained by literature.”

For her presentation, Horsley said, “I’m interested in talking about what I’ve uncovered about people’s lives, especially women’s lives (and) the truths revealed, especially during dramatic times.”

Writing is just one field Horsley is involved in. She has also taught for 21 years. She teaches at the Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque. Additionally, she is also involved in hospice work.

“I guess I feel like (my) characters; I want to be in the thick of things (and) I don’t want to turn away from the human condition,” she said.

One of the biggest parts of the human condition is dying. It’s a process Horsley helps people through.

It’s something Horsley has experienced personally. “I experienced a very tragic loss in my life and I thought instead of being coward by it ee I wanted to be more fearless about it, not fearful,” she said. “Face it but not be beaten down by my own loss.”

The Authors Speak series is sponsored by Friends of Mesa Public Library and receives additional support from the Best Western Hilltop House.