The Next Chapter

How a child's drawing of a horse inspired Drew Hayden Taylor's latest novel

Drew Hayden Taylor discusses what inspired his latest novel, Chasing Painted Horses.
Chasing Painted Horses is a novel by Drew Hayden Taylor. (CBC)

Drew Hayden Taylor is an Ojibway playwright, author and journalist from Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario. He sees himself as a contemporary multimedia storyteller who's interested in expanding the boundaries of Indigenous literature.

In 2007, Taylor debuted with the YA novel The Night WandererHis other books include Motorcycle and Sweetgrass and Take Us to Your Chief, a collection of Indigenous science fiction short stories. His latest novel, Chasing Painted Horsesis a fable-like tale of four young friends from a reserve called Otter Lake, located north of Toronto.

Taylor stopped by The Next Chapter to discuss Chasing Painted Horses.

Wall drawings

"The idea for this story came from a dinner party. I was having drinks with a group of friends and one friend told me about growing up in Ottawa and how her mother would invite kids over to draw on her wall. One little girl came over and she would draw the same horse over and over again. Then one day, she stopped showing up.

One little girl came over and she would draw the same horse over and over and over again. Then one day she stopped showing up.- Drew Hayden Taylor

"Her mother then wondered whatever happened to this little girl and why she kept drawing this horse. After hearing that story, it wouldn't leave my consciousness. I started asking questions and began to answer those questions for myself. Eventually the story popped out."

CBC Books (Why I Write): Drew Hayden Taylor

4 years ago
Duration 2:40
In this CBC Books video series, author Drew Hayden Taylor discusses the power of Indigenous literature.

A horse of course

"I did draw on my own life for the story. The character Danielle, one of the central characters in the novel, talks about going to a country fair and seeing a small bent-back horse taking kids on a ride in a circle.

I did draw on part of my own life for the story.- Drew Hayden Taylor

"I remember seeing that when I went to a county fair with my grandfather. Even as a kid, I remember feeling sad for that horse because that was his entire life." 

Drew Hayden Taylor's comment's have been edited for length and clarity. 


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