Horse Scents

Marc Hasbrouck is not a man who endures idle hours easily.

“We’re active people,” Hasbrouck readily admitted about himself and his wife, both retirees who nonetheless remain busy with various clubs, hobbies and other pursuits.

This resistance to idleness stretches back quite a way for Hasbrouck. After retiring in 2002 from the creative agency where he handled graphic design and numerous other duties, he jumped into a second career as a group leader for Weight Watchers, which he continued to enjoy until a second retirement in 2018.

With the future stretching out in front of him, filled with idle hours, the Loganville man looked for a new pursuit and found it in the project he’d dabbled in, on and off, for years.

A few months later, he emerged with his first novel.

“I worked on it for 10 to 15 years,” Hasbrouck said. “I’d write on it for a bit and then put it down, then come back and try a different approach. So, when I retired again, I dug out my first draft and I started to write and re-write.”

What emerged was “Horse Scents,” a collection of vignettes with enough linkages to masquerade as a novel, or, as Hasbrouck’s own sub-title admits, “13 Short Stories in Search of a Novel.”

“Some of them are intertwined or feed into one another,” Hasbrouck said. “They all deal with a moment in someone’s life at a particular stable and it takes place over 13 months, with each story representing one of those months.”

Hasbrouck admits he has some experience in such a stable — his wife once showed horses competitively and they would attend, and sometimes throw, parties at such stables with friends and neighbors. Such experiences fed into the book years later, as Hasbrouck drew on remembered acquaintances and conversations to fill his stories with incidents.

And Hasbrouck said there are plenty of incidents in the book, including deaths, dysfunctional families, daddy issues, infertility, infidelity, illnesses and much more.

“I try to encompass every type of emotion as adults we encounter,” Hasbrouck said. “And there are little lessons throughout. There’s a lot of tragedy in here, but there’s humor, too.”

Hasbrouck said his sense of humor is present throughout, right to the title of the book, which plays on the phrase “horse sense” just the way the author likes it.

“It’s a play on words,” he said. “I love wordplay, puns, everything like that. I wrote this book sort of the way I talk and I can be very sarcastic.”

Hasbrouck said he was also influenced by the works of one of his favorite authors, Fredrik Backman, particularly his novel, “A Man Called Ove.”

“They’re character studies,” he said. “That’s what I was doing with each of my stories.”

Once Hasbrouck had his finished novel in hand — which required a few drafts and re-writes, with input from friends and family on various versions of the work — he consulted with a friend, who advised he try and self-publish the novel.

Eventually he settled on iUniverse, which published the book recently and now offers the book online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and its own website.

Hasbrouck said it was a great experience finally getting his work out into the world.

“I’ve had fun writing it,” he said.

But he said he had no real plans for a “Horse Scents 2” or any other follow-up writing projects to fill future idle hours.

“I don’t think there will be another book,” Hasbrouck said.

“This one took me more than a decade and I’m nearly 77 now. Still, I might start dabbling again, so who knows?”

News Editor

Stephen Milligan is the news editor of The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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