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Author Eliza Jane Brazier's Latest Can Only Be Read at a Gallop

We caught up with Brazier to talk about her latest novel 'Girls and Their Horses,' what books she's reading now, and what her fans should read next.
Erica Landau •
May 26th, 2023

Author and screenwriter Eliza Jane Brazier started riding horses at the age of 5. She’s seen it all when it comes to the world of elite equestrian sports: high-stakes competition, big personalities, showjumping thrills, showjumping spills, mean horsegirl cliques – and even meaner “barn moms” desperate to mold their daughters into the horse girls they never got to be. 

Brazier's intimate understanding of the equestrian world jumps off every page like a grand prix horse clearing eye-watering heights in her latest, the barnburning, can’t-put-down thriller Girls and Their Horses

Narrated almost entirely by the women of California luxury stable Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian, where head trainers are tyrants and deadly secrets lurk behind immaculately groomed horses and kept pastures, Girls and Their Horses expertly holds a mirror to the absurdities of the rich people who inhabit this universe. But the novel also captures lovingly what makes it worthwhile to those who chase that life without a cool billion in the bank: the excitement, the lessons gained from picking yourself up when you literally fall down, the risk and reward of befriending an animal that can kill you, and most importantly, the posh refuge from real world problems. 

One detective investigating a death at a horseshow – Rancho Santa Fe we later learn is connected to several mysterious injuries and deaths – conveys her annoyance with the stable’s clientele early in the book. “There are no people quite like horse people,” Detective Perez grumbles. But when horselife beckons – her 3-year-old daughter asks to start riding “when I’m 5” – Perez, a former horse girl, caves like a brick wall made out of foam. 

She doesn’t have “horse people money,” she says. But the siren call is too strong. 

“There’s something a little magical about the horse world,” she admits to herself before abiding her daughter's wishes. "When you're 5."

Named the "Thriller of the Summer" by, Girls and Their Horses can only be read at a gallop. Not one page misses in this book. It's a murder-fiction maze where cruel friends, pimped-out heartthrobs and ruthless moms invite suspicion, and motives range from depleted trust funds to raw ambition. There's even a mother-daughter love triangle. The dramatic twists will keep you hooked while Brazier's razorsharp dialogue and observations keep laughs coming.

We caught up with the author to talk about the novel, which comes out June 6, and hear about the books she is reading and recommends. Here’s what she had to say.

Can you trace this book to a particular moment or incident that sparked the idea?

EJB: I've been riding since I was 5, and I grew up right outside of Rancho Santa Fe, which is the actual setting of the book, so that was obviously a huge influence. But I think what really sparked the idea is that I was a riding instructor. So I actually taught horseback riding in Orange County in Los Angeles. And I would teach primarily the beginner riders. I would teach like the children of these rich and famous people. And it was just observing the dynamics between parents and their children. Like how some parents had grown up, and they always wanted to be able to ride horses and had never been able to afford it. Now that they had money, they just wanted to give this gift to their children. And sometimes the children weren't interested. And it was very interesting to me, because I don't think it's a negative impulse to want to give your kids the life you never had, but at the same time [horseback riding] can be dangerous.

I want to shout out the cover because I love it. The cover is so good. What is the story behind it? What were the other options? How did you decide on this one?

We originally had two options for the cover. The first one was a girl jumping on a horse and it was really a much more accurate picture, and I actually picked that one. But then the team said the problem with this cover, and it being so technically accurate, [is that] it looks like non-fiction. So they were trying to add stuff to make it look less like non-fiction, and that wasn't really working. And I was like, "You know what guys, I think we should go back to this cover." And I think that they were right because you need to have something that's going to get attention.

This is your second book about rich people behaving badly. What's a book about rich people by another author that you love?

The Club by Ellery Lloyd. It's this intensely detailed look at a private members club, and it's interesting, too, because it's a husband-wife team that writes. She actually worked at Soho House in London. So you feel like this person really knows what she's talking about. It's similar to White Lotus, [in that] it's sort of an ensemble. So it's looking at all these different characters in this really interesting way.

What books are on your night stand right now?

I just started Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I love how it gives us such a specific insight into the time period. And also Geraldine Brooks' Horse, which is this really beautiful epic.

What is the last book you stayed up all night to read? What did you love about it?

I read Andrea Bartz's next book The Spare Room. I just really love her writing. It's so sharp and really well-thought out. She's an auto-buy for me and I always want to see whatever she's doing next because she has such unique different stories.

Any contemporary or classic thrillers that you have been influenced by?

My all-time, like, greatest hits are Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, Donna Tartt, Flannery O'Connor. The Talented Mr. Ripley for its chilling insights into the gamesmanship between the haves and have nots, The Secret History for the hilarious human observations that ground this really wild story.

What’s the last book you bought as a gift - for whom and why?

I bought my brother a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way because it gave me such insight into who I am as a person and artist, and I think that's a wonderful gift to give anyone.

What did you read while you were working on Girls and Their Horses?

Whenever i'm writing I really don't want to be influenced by something that's similar because I don't want it to bleed into it unintentionally. But I was reading Lonesome Dove and it was really good.

You’re developing your books for TV. What’s a TV series based on a book that you think was so well-executed you wish for the same treatment?

One of my recent favorites has been The Summer I Turned Pretty. I actually watched the show before I read the book, and I feel like everything that I really loved about it was not actually in the book, like it was developed for TV. And what I found inspiring about that particular show is just that Jenny Han, who wrote the book, was heavily involved in the show. So to me, thats really like, you know, it's great. How somebody can be so willing to dig in and evolve their own material. Able to make something even better than their original book.

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Girls and Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier, out June 6.

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