Friday, 25 April 2014

E.H. Ward: A Sure Thing

A great big Heart of Fiction welcome to E.H. Ward.

From a young age, E.H. has been around horses -- from pony clubbing, fox hunting, and working for local trainers and at stud farms, to traveling the world working in the horse industry.

He spent a couple years working in Australia on a cattle farm where he worked . . . get this . . . breaking-in wild horses!

From there, he went to work in Kentucky, famous for race horsing. Over the next few years, he split his time between projects in Inner Mongolia where he set up a stud farm, then outside Beijing training racehorses.

From there, the next few years were spent back and forth between Ireland and Turkey. In Ireland, he managed the Irish arm of an American stud farm. Then it was onto Turkey where he spent a year upgrading the Turkish National Stud. He was then hired to manage a racing and breeding operation along the Aegean coast, where he worked with local businessmen who wanted an international adviser.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. He currently splits his time between Turkey where he still works as an adviser and where he lives in southern France with his charming family.

Getting to his writing talents, E.H. writes analytical articles and horseracing and sale reviews for The Irish Field Newspaper, and for James Underwood's Racing and Breeding Digest in the UK. And in his spare time, he writes fiction.

To say this man knows his horseflesh, and about writing, is just a bit of an understatement!

In E.H.'s debut novel, A Sure Thing, published today by Tirgearr Publishing, we plunge head first into the horseracing industry. When 'they' said "write what you know", E.H. took it to heart.

Oliver McMahon is a trained stud farm manager and bloodstock expert, but he's no longer finding joy in his life, or his work. He's tired of working for people who don't appreciate talent or experience, and he longs to go out on his own, work for himself. When all options have expired, Oliver turns to a man who owes him a favor. That man also just happens to be one of America's top crime mafioso! But he helps get Oliver on his feet, introducing him to some powerful people. Oliver quickly rises to the position he deserves in the horseracing business. Especially as his Thoroughbreds start winning.

Enter a woman Oliver thought long in his past, and another area of his life seems to be falling into place. As it can happen, money makes us crazy, and Oliver finds himself getting mixed up with drugs and everything that entails. But when his brother is murdered, Oliver discovers an old family secret which led to his brother's killing. Oliver must harden up if he's to extricate himself from the deep hole he's got himself into if he's going to avoid prison, or being murdered himself.

Holy macaroni! A Sure Thing hits the mark on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. E.H. weaves an intricate tapestry of a thriller, putting readers side-by-side with Oliver McMahon as we follow him from obscurity to fame then into the abyss. Emotions are sharp throughout this story. We can't help but feel what Oliver feels, jetsetting trough exotic locations, flying high in the horseracing industry, rubbing shoulders with the rich . . . living the life, baby! And we're with Oliver through the sharp downturn when everything starts crashing in on him. Here's a man who just wants to be noticed for his talent in the business. One wrong move sets off a chain of events that are impossible to stop. And ends up getting his brother killed in the process. Maybe him next! A Sure Thing is sure to grip any thriller enthusiast by the pants and hold him, or her, in the chair until this book is well-read. Anyone who loves Dick Francis' horseracing thrillers, and anyone who's a Mario Puza fan, will certainly find much joy with A Sure Thing. To put it succinctly, A Sure Thing is a sure thing if you're looking for a great thrill-ride of a read!

Before we get to an excerpt, we've had a quick chat with E. H.

• • •

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, E.H., and congrats on your debut novel, A Sure Thing. We appreciate you taking time from your obviously busy schedule to have a chat with us. Just listing off *some* of the things you've done in the last 20-25 years is breathtaking.

With such a busy schedule, how do you find time to write? You must operate on to-do lists, or at least have a secretary to keep you on schedule. Where writing is concerned, how do you fit it in? Do you have a routine?
I try to aim for 2,000 words a day, but am happy to settle for less rather than push a frustrating day. The important thing is to always write something, even if it’s only scribbled in a notebook or on a scrap of paper. When I’m not full time at my day job (a stud farm and racing stable manager/advisor), I try to start writing early, straight after breakfast and checking e-mails. It usually takes me some time in the morning to wind up into it, then, with some words on the page and ideas swirling about my brain, I stop before lunch to work out in the garage and maybe even go for a run. I find this is remarkably theraputic and I have had many of my best plot ideas and solved many plot/character problems whilst alone in the garage lifting weights. After lunch, it’s back into the writing. I try to finish in the evening in time to cook dinner for my wife, son and I.
{gasp} A man who cooks for his family? Priceless!

It sounds a little like you have a place for everything (gym in the garage, surely an office for your 'day job'). What's writing space like?
Quiet, near the window. A simple desk with a hard chair. I like to have maps on the wall for
inspiration and reference. A map of European history reminds me of the development of man and, at the moment I also have a projection map of what the world would look like if all the ice melted. 
Okay, I might have to google that map of an iceless world. Does this mean you may have a futuristic story in your somewhere? Horseracing in the year 2514? Okay, no, I won't go there! But I must say, I love that purple chair! Irish sugan?

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing? I hear through a grape vine there are grape vines on your property!
Managing a stud farm and advising a racing stable, helping my wife with her vines, kitesurfing, and keeping fit.
Thanks so much for chatting with us. And best of luck with A Sure Thing. I'm sure, after reading this book, there will be many more to come as you ad this new feather to your cap.

So, onto the excerpt. Be sure to drop E.H. a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of A Sure Thing.

• • •

Irish stud farm manager and bloodstock expert, Oliver McMahon, is tired of his life, and a boss who neither rewards, satisfies, or recognises his abilities. He turns to his very wealthy brother, Richard, for help in setting up his own venture, only to be rejected and, in the process, discovers a family secret.

On the brink of despair, Oliver remembers and calls in a favour owed to him by a man who has risen to become one of America’s most powerful mafioso. Oliver gets back on track with a rich client, a large budget, top class horses, and an old flame rekindled.

As the Thoroughbreds start winning, Oliver reconnects with his college sweetheart and all his dreams are being realized. Soon, he’s pulled into a tangled web of narcotics, murder, deceit, and sinister threats.

When Richard is murdered, Oliver has to face the awful truth that a decade-old act started the chain of events which led to his brother’s killing.

Oliver has no choice but to become as ruthless as Richard if he’s to extricate himself from a lose-lose situation. Death or a lifetime in prison – the stakes have never been higher.

Dublin - November 25th, 2005

Richard McMahon swung his white Mercedes off Clontarf Road and wound slowly through the streets. He took an indirect route to his luxury apartment block, checking the mirror every time he turned. He was fairly sure he was not being followed, but in the grey half-light of a drizzly evening, all the cars looked similar in the mirror. He pulled into the parking lot and stared at the bushes and shrubs that shielded it from the road.

The streetlight was not working. A bead of sweat formed at his hairline. He lit a cigarette and devoured it. Richard’s skin was grey, almost translucent, his brow was furrowed and his crow’s feet were craggier than usual. An all-day meeting with his lawyer had robbed him of energy and any sense of security that he had had a few days ago.

His company was still reeling from the drugs find, and he stood to lose a fortune. Then there was the matter of the suddenly silent Italian flight steward. Still, he was glad he had left the letter for his brother, even if it was too late to make amends – he should have treated Oliver better and helped him out when he came looking for Richard’s backing and support.

Slightly calmed by the nicotine, he scanned the car park, picked up his briefcase and the long, heavy torch he kept on the passenger seat. He locked the car and hurried toward the sanctuary of the building. There was a sound from the bushes. He shone the torch, but could only make out leaves and shadows.

“Come out! I, I know you’re there,” he called, with a quiver in his voice. Breaking into a trot, he made for the lobby door.

Swearing, he dropped his briefcase trying to pull the passkey from his pocket. He never got to turn the lock.

* * *

The hooded man checked the photograph in his hand and satisfied himself that it was Richard McMahon approaching the lobby door. Looking left and right, he silently crossed the road and came up behind his target. As he moved, the iron bar slid down the anorak’s sleeve into his hand. The blow dropped Richard to the ground. He was out before he hit the floor.

The man glanced down the street, then took his victim’s watch, ripped the shoes from his feet, and searched for a wallet. Pocketing the banknotes, he tossed it aside. Then he stabbed a used syringe into his victim’s neck.

Richard groaned. “Please, please . . .”

The man rose to his feet and bent over Richard. “You should’ve kept your mouth shut,” he said. Then he swung the iron bar in a long slow arc. There was a dull crack and blood spilled onto the stone tiles.

The man walked briskly down the street, turned the corner and continued through four or five cross streets. He reversed his anorak and dropped the bar down a storm drain by the kerb on an empty street. The shoes he stuffed into a bin behind a convenience store. He fondled the Rolex and considered keeping it, but reluctantly tossed it into the waters of Dublin Bay.

As he walked along the coast road, he smiled, pushed the hood off his head and made a call.

“You tell our friends, it’s done.”

• • •

E.H. Ward was born in England in 1973 to a racehorse trainer father and a mother who studied speech and drama at the Royal Academy in London. He moved to his mother’s native Limerick in Ireland at the age of nine and grew up riding, pony clubbing, fox-hunting and working for local racehorse trainers and stud farms. After school and a brief stint in the British army, he returned to England to start full-time work with racehorses. He spent the ‘90s travelling the world working with horses and in the bloodstock industry. From England, he moved back to Ireland then down to the Hunter Valley in Australia where he worked on a large stud farm and travelled and spent time on a cattle farm, breaking-in wild horses.

From Australia it was on to Kentucky the home of American horse racing and breeding, where he began working for the US arm of Ireland’s renowned Coolmore Stud. He spent the next ten years working at Coolmore and was put in charge of their China/Mongolia project, spending six months creating a stud on the plains of Inner Mongolia and a year training racehorses on the outskirts of Beijing.

He was seconded to the Turkish Jockey Club for a year to upgrade and run the Turkish National Stud, before returning full-time to Ireland in 2001, as an area manager at Coolmore’s Tipperary headquarters .

In 2006 he went back to Turkey to build and manage a racing/breeding operation on the Aegean coast working with a local businessman who wanted an international standard manager/advisor.

He is married to a Frenchwoman, and they have one son aged five. He currently divides his time between the stud farm near Izmir and southern France. He writes analytical articles and horseracing and sale reviews for The Irish Field newspaper and James Underwood’s Racing and Breeding Digest in the UK.

• Find Eric Online •

Tirgearr Publishing

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!


  1. Welcome to Heart of Fiction, EH, and congrats on the stunning debut of your novel, A Sure Thing.

    Your CV is quite impressive for such a young man. With everything you've done in your life, and your current responsibilities, what made you turn your hand to fiction?

    1. Hi there!
      Sorry for my late reply. Long day on the road and too much traffic. Why hasn't anyone invented teleportation yet?
      Anyway... I was first inspired to write at age teen, after reading a series of adventure books written by Willard Price about two brothers who travel the world humanely procuring exotic animal for their father who has a business supplying US zoos with animals (OK the concept might not be so PC nowadays) and of course, they get into great adventures and have to defeat dastardly devils. So, when I finished the series, I wrote my first attempt at fiction. Fast forward 16 years, and I'm pretty much alone on the Mongolian plains so alongside my diaries, I started writing stories and ideas for novels. Eight years after that, I sat down to write seriously and have been trying to do so ever since! Turning to horseracing fiction seemed like a natural thing to do, but I try to link my horse plots to the wider world. In life, I dislike having to explain myself, so writing allows me to do this on my own terms and timeframe. It's hard work, but anyone in the horse business knows what that's all about. There is no "Off" switch for a horse! As one of my literary heroes used to say: "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Right now, I'm just delighted that my first book is published and out there to be read! It's very exciting. It some ways the writing process is like breeding and raising a racehorse and then seeing it hit the race course and hopefully win some races!

    2. Hi ED, like Kemberlee, I don't know how you fit it all in. A sure Thing sounds like an amazing debut novel, the kind of book my husband would really enjoy. I'm going to surprise him and buy it for him.

    3. Congrats Ed!! I used to take my employees to the races,,, even had a race or two named after the company. Very exciting stuff from the infield !! Hope your book does well !

    4. Thanks guys. I hope it goes well too... There's another one in the pipeline too. Racing's exciting alright, and more so from the inside track, but sadly it doesn't get the headline news that it used to in the days of Secretariat, Nijinsky and Lester Piggott. By the way, sorry I'm posting as anonymous: I can't seem to mak it accept my name!

  2. Can you please let me know where in the Limerick area or in Ireland on line can I lay my hands on this must have book. It sounds amazing.

    1. Try O'Mahonys on the main street. Some were delivered there over the weekend.