Keehn, Sally M

About the author

Sally M Keehn (b.1947) was born in London, but grew up in Maryland in the United States. She worked for some years as a Young Adult Librarian, and after moving to Pennsylvania, wrote a travel book on the area with her husband David. Two stories in particular haunted her, and these, in time, became the basis of her first two novels, I Am Regina and Moon of Two Dark Horses. Both are historical children’s stories, one of which, Moon of Two Dark Horses, has some horse content. Her contemporary novel, The First Horse I See has considerably more horse content, and is based on her own experiences. She wrote: “I worked with an abused thoroughbred ex-racehorse, getting her to love and trust me so that I could train her to be a show jumper. However, as I wrote through the novel’s first draft, I discovered there was a lot more to the story than I’d first envisioned.” The novel touches on her father’s alcoholism, and her mother’s death, and writing it was difficult:

“Coming to grips with the real depths of the story proved to be a heart-wrenching time for me. In the end, the most challenging thing I had to do was to step out of the novel and allow it to become what it had to be. I had to tell myself (as do many novelists) “Sally, this novel isn’t about you anymore. It’s about the character you’ve created – Willojean. Let Willo tell her story.” And so I finally did, but not without a struggle.”

Finding the books
The First Horse I See had a UK printing: the book still seems to be in print, and is easy to find. Moon of Two Dark Horses is widely available too, although it did not have a UK printing.

Links and sources
Sally M Keehn’s at Penguin
Biographical information on Sally M Keehn
Many thanks to Lisa Catz for the photograph.

Bibliography (horse books only)

The First Horse I See

Philomel Books, New York, 1999, 215 pp
Puffin Books, 1999, pb, 224 pp
Puffin USA, 2000, pb

“Before she died, Willo’s mother made her father promise that Willo could finally have a horse. Her grandfather warns her: don”t fall in love with the first horse that you see. But Willo does – with Tess, a feisty ex-racehorse who has been mistreated by her former owners. Willo is convinced she can tame her, despite her father’s disapproval. But hope and reality are two different things…”

Moon of Two Dark Horses

Philomel Books, New York, 1995, 218 pp
Dell Yearling, 1997, pb
Putnam, New York, 2002, pb

Set at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, this is the story of two boys, a 12-year-old Delaware boy and his white friend, who have to deal with the conflict engulfing them. Daniel, an American, is fighting for independence from Britain, and Coshmoo’s tribe are trying to remain neutral.