An Enchanted Racetrack Awaits in the Novel, Stairway to Heaven
Author Lois Tiller Conjures The World of Horse Racing As Never Before
By: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
A truly inspired idea for a book, it first came to author Lois Tiller as soft as a horse whisper. Flash-forward to today and her novel, Stairway to Heaven, is standing in the winner's circle, for the way Tiller's story is captivating horse lovers and racing fans alike – and may even go on to bring about changes in the racing industry.
Recalls Tiller: "Stairway to Heaven was inspired by my own rescue horse, a thoroughbred mare who broke down as a two-year-old and retired from racing. She was one of the lucky ones, loved and cared for, for the rest of her life. That experience didn't leave me anti-racing, but rather believing the industry needs reform."
Approaching horse racing with the same heightened sense of magic that Field of Dreams applied to baseball, Tiller's story centers on a father-daughter relationship – that of Irish horse trainer Tommy O'Dell and his precocious daughter Lily – and their love for a valiant steed named Ajax in Eureka, Kansas, circa 1938. Father and daughter face calamity and hardship, but it is the healing power of the imagination that gives Stairway to Heaven its abiding message – that love doesn't just conquer all, it has the power to conjure miracles.
The author fervently believes in that message, and hopes her faith will manifest in the form of changes being made in the treatment of racehorses.
"Stairway to Heaven challenges the false romantic ideal with the biting reality of what happens every day behind closed doors and on the track," observes Tiller. "Racehorses are the victims of drug abuse, catastrophic injuries, and many of their lives end in the slaughterhouse."
The uncomfortable truth is, the way racehorses are treated is a story the racing industry doesn't want told.
"Del Mar had a bad season in 2016 – multiple horse deaths – and managed to overcome the bad press," Tiller recounts, her sense of this tragedy running deep. "In the wake of 26 fatalities this season, Santa Anita has come under scrutiny by the public, the industry, and even the L.A. District Attorney. The question is, does the industry have the will to reform itself?"
One isn't surprised to learn that the author has donated some of the proceeds from sales of Stairway to Heaven to horse-rescue organizations.
The very notion that horses that have given their all for their owners and their trainers often wind up "vanned off," never to be seen again, makes the scene in Tiller's novel where the most spectacular thoroughbreds of the past race again on a heavenly racetrack – you'll reach for a tissue or be cheering, or both.
It all sounds like the stuff of classic movies – also not surprising, given the fact that author Lois Tiller has been a screenwriter and script consultant, and in an earlier day, served as general manager for The Equine Trade Journal.
Fittingly magical, emotionally resonant, and intensely memorable, Stairway to Heaven is a brilliant read available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats at the author's website, as well as at Amazon.com. And Hollywood, as for the movie…
The Champions of Old are coming. Hurry or you'll miss the race.
Stairway To Heaven
Author Lois Tiller