Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meet Boushka, proud owner of author Mary Sharatt

Woof! Welcome my special guest, Boushka! This Welsh mare lives with Mary Sharatt, author of the fascinating novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill. If you love witch stories based on real historical stuff, then this is the book for you! Be sure to check out Mary's website, as well as her Facebook page.

So tell us, Boushka, how in the world did you end up with an American author living in Lancashire, England?

I was born in Wales, the greatest place in the world and sacred homeland to all Welsh ponies and cobs, but I changed owners several times, living in Yorkshire and then in Lancashire where I did pony club stuff with teenagers. A girl has to get around, you know?

Then I moved to Pendle Forest in Lancashire where I acquired Mary who was most certainly not a teenager. When I first met her, she was writing her novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, about the Pendle Witches of 1612, so she rode me all around Pendle Forest as part of her research. Mary and I have a lot of fun adventures together. We even did a three day, long distance ride last summer, the Mary Towneley Loop, where I took Mary up and down old packhorse trails, across moors, through fields of cows who were altogether too inquisitive, and into forgotten valleys. Mary knows I’m happiest when we do long hacks and that nothing is more fun than having a good canter across a field or exploring a new trail through the woods. I am naturally curious and must investigate everything. And I’m not afraid of cows. I’m the boss of them and they know it. Don’t mess with Welsh mares!

What's with the name? Sounds Russian spy to me.

My show name is Glynnedd Caramel. One of my teenagers that I owned before Mary named me Boushka, short for Babushka, after the Kate Bush song. I think it’s a little silly since Babushka means grandmother and there’s nothing grandmotherly about me! But they say it’s unlucky to change a horse’s name, so I’m still Boushka, although I’m secretly training Mary to call me Queen Boudicca instead. If the Roman legions invaded the mares’ field, I would totally demolish them, as I am descended from great Celtic warrior queens.

Wow. I'm impressed. I understand you have a bigger wardrobe with more accessories than Mary. How did this happen?

When I first acquired Mary, I came with a whole wardrobe and set of accessories thanks to the teenager I owned before Mary. This included my beloved pink feed bucket and hay net. Of course, Mary has added to the collection so I now have five different field rugs, two stable rugs, a fly rug, a fleece cooler, countless saddle cloths, travel boots, brushing boots, two head collars and lead ropes, not to mention my Santa outfit for Christmas, which features reindeer antlers that flop around my ears and furry boots to wear on my hind legs. For Midsummer, Mary usually braids real roses in my mane, tale, and forelock. I can’t help it I’m so gorgeous!

Are there any drawbacks to owning Mary? Don't hold back now. Time to spill the beans.

Sometimes she gets a little carried away with the whole Pendle Witch theme. For Halloween, she dresses me up in a purple witch hat and hacks me out while carrying a kid’s purple glitter broom. I humour her, because I am awesome. Last year the horse behind us tried to eat the straw on the broom, which was rather amusing.

I think putting costumes on pets is humiliating. I lived the experience one Christmas, when my human tried to make me look like Santa. First and last.

Anyway, I heard Mary’s novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, is now out in paperback. Tell us more about it!

If you’re a Welsh mare who loves reading about strong women, this is the book for you. Daughters of the Witching Hill brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching account of a family caught up in the Pendle Witch trials of 1612.

Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow living in Pendle Forest, is haunted by visions and gains a reputation as a cunning woman. Drawing on the Catholic folk magic of her youth, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future. As she ages, she instructs her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft, as well as her best friend, who ultimately turns to dark magic. When a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate, eager to make his name as a witch finder, plays neighbors and family members against one another until suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights.

Mary interweaves well-researched historical details with a beautifully imagined story of strong women, family, and betrayal. Daughters of the Witching Hill is a powerful novel of intrigue and revelation.

The book has received many glowing reviews. I hope lots of people go out and buy it so Mary can get me some more pony treats and accessories! I would like a new fly rug this summer.

You seem to like accessories quite a bit. Tell your human to get you a set of Fancy Nancy books. But before I forget... Is it true you appear in Mary's book?

Yes, I make a special cameo appearance as accused witch Alice Nutter’s horse.

Wow! So, what is Mary working on now?

Her new book, tentatively titled SIBYL OF THE RHINE, is based on the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th century German visionary abbess, composer, theologian, and polymath. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish the book in Spring 2012. I’m really excited about Mary’s new novel, but I hope she doesn’t get any funny ideas about dressing me up to look like a 12th century Benedictine nun!

You're scaring me! I hope my human won't read this interview. She might get some insane ideas.

Where can we learn more about Mary, her books, and the true history of the Pendle Witches?

Be sure to visit her website ( and watch her six minute docudrama about the Pendle Witches, shot live on location around Pendle Hill. I, of course, appear in all my glory and am the star of the whole video. I can’t tell you how many takes we had to do to get the camera angles just right! (

Also, you can follow my adventures with Mary on Facebook where there are many pictures of me in all my Welsh magnificence!

Woof! Woof!