Taos author will discuss debut novel during appearance at Farmington Public Library

Susan Mihalic worked for nearly 20 years to get 'Dark Horses' published

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — During the final stages of the long, drawn-out process of writing her debut novel, author Susan Mihalic resorted to keeping an inspirational sign posted on the wall above her desk.

The message was simple. "Endurance," it blared.

"I still have it," the Taos resident said, laughing and recalling the gumption it took to get her book across the finish line  a process that ultimately took 18 years. Mihalic credited her editor Alison Callahan for getting her to that point.

"Somehow, she made me dig deeper, and I was able to do it," she said.

Mihalic will read from and answer questions about her novel "Dark Horses" at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12 at the Farmington Public Library, 2101 Farmington Ave. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase. Call 505-566-2210 or visit infoway.com for more information.

Some of the ground Mihalic will cover during her presentation will deal with her persistence as a writer. She began writing the book in 2003, but didn't see it published until February of this year by Scout Press, a Simon & Schuster imprint.

Author Susan Mihalic will talk about her book "Dark Horses" during an Aug. 12 appearance at the Farmington Public Library.

Mihalic finished the initial version of the book by 2009, but it took another 10 years for her to produce the final version. That time was filled with editing, shortening and revising her manuscript, as well as trying to find an agent and a publisher. In the meantime, she continued working a full-time job and dealt with a case of breast cancer.

Mihalic always believed in her story, but she knew it was going to be a difficult sell. Her tale revolves around a 15-year-old girl, an Olympic-class equestrian who secretly endures sexual abuse at home. The dark nature of that story made it a nonstarter for many of the publisher's representatives who had it land on their desk.

"I would say eight out of 10 said it was too dark," Mihalic said. "Although some of the rejections were quite lovely. They said, 'You have a strong voice, and I can't stop turning the pages. But I can't publish this.'"

The cover of the book "Dark Horses" by Susan Mihalic.

Finally, her work found a home at Scout Press, and the right colleague in Callahan, who Mihalic said is known throughout the publishing industry as an editor who champions edgy, fearless work.

And that nearly 20-year journey was very much worth it, Mihalic said, pointing to the warm public response she has gotten.

"I'm very proud of the finished product," she said. "It's had great reviews, and it's been a positive experience completely. You can't say that about too many things."

Still, she acknowledged that if she had known in 2003 that it would take so long to complete the project, she's not sure she would have embarked on that journey.

"I probably never would have begun it," she said. "The truth is, I'm a one-trick pony. This is kind of it for me. … I'm not a renaissance woman."

Mihalic has delivered many virtual presentations on "Dark Horses" since its release earlier this year. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will mark the first time she has spoken before a live audience about it.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing people in person," she said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.