From Horses to Killer Whales

I woke up in the early morning dark in November 2020. Like many, I was pandemic fatigued, but that wasn’t why I was awake. For the fourth time in as many nights, I’d had the same dream: a killer whale shimmering under the turquoise water in a concrete tank.

Dreams have many meanings to me. Some are trash can dreams: those images, fears, and worries that your subconscious needs to dump. Some dreams are inspirational: flying through the clouds, or galloping across a vast stretch of green land. Some dreams (though these are far fewer) are portents of things to come. This dream, however, left me with more curiosity than answers.

I grew up loving dolphins and horses. My original plan was to become a marine biologist and live in San Diego. Once in college, it only took one semester for it to dawn on me that science (and its evil twin, mathematics) wasn’t a skill set my brain could absorb. I finished college with a degree that suited me, and then it was a natural progression to pursue my love of horses. I was teaching by the time I was twenty, and training when I was twenty-six. I haven’t stopped since.

So why the killer whale dream? I hadn’t read anything about cetaceans in years. Maybe, I thought, the killer whales are a sign for something else, a metaphor. After reading a couple of books and scouring the internet, I had a few answers. This didn’t stop the dream.

When I woke up on the fourth morning, bedeviled and enchanted, I decided to sit down in front of my computer and write what I saw. That singular image, only one page in length, gave birth to a story that is over 300 pages long.

The idea that enchants me is how our species can communicate with other species. Although I allude to it in my books about horses, I do believe that all people are born with an innate capacity to listen to the world around them. North to Home explores this theme (and others) in the context of a love story where killer whales make an important appearance.

Marine biologist I might not be, but it seems something was calling to me from the oceans that cover our beautiful planet. Once I had committed the image of the killer whale in a tank to words, the dreams changed. I wrote them down, and when one scene was done, a different dream would appear. The order of the scenes was random, and it wasn’t until almost the end that I began arranging the scenes into chapters. It was a truly magical process, arriving at a time when it seemed magic was on its way out of the world.

The second book is in the editing and rewrite phase, and I’ve discovered that there’s now a third book waiting in the wings. This series has allowed me to explore ideas that fascinate me, through a story whose origin is as mysterious as the ocean’s deep waters. I hope you enjoy the exploration, too.

Interested? Click here: https://crissimcdonald.com/books/

14 responses to “From Horses to Killer Whales”

  1. what a lovely book Crissi. You’re books have been recommended by several friends, including Alex Clerc. She’s coming up here to Lakebay, WA later this month to offer a weekend workshop and on Monday we are going to see if we can find some Orca’s to fulfill one of her bucket list items! I look forward to reading about this adventure. Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for our beloved friends!

    1. Thank you, Peggy! I’m glad to hear Alex is coming to see you. She’s an amazing human. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you see orcas!

  2. I absolutely LOVED North To Home! Can’t wait to read Books 2 and 3.
    I love the way you write, Crissi! Keep on going!

    1. Hi Jet – this brings me such happiness! Yay! I love this story too – it appeared from nowhere and is still taking me on a wild and beautiful ride. Thanks for your kind words!

  3. Crissi: I told you before of Facebook that I loved your book. In fact, when I got a few chapters from the end, I stayed up hours later than my early bedtime to finish it. I can hardly wait to get the second book. Hope it is soon.

    1. Hi Jo! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The second book is in the editing/rewrite process. I’m hoping to release it next Spring. 🙂

  4. Schu.pobox@att.net Avatar
    Schu.pobox@att.net

    We have a friend who was a professional dolphin trainer in San Deigo and has taken that knowledge and skill to the training of horses. While I suspect you won’t “need” to follow her, I thought you might be interested. The main thing I observe in her work is her deep understanding of operant conditioning. But she adjusts quickly as necessary to suit the horse. Her present project, Pilgrim, is a horse a local stable bought who turned out to have lost all trust in humans.

    https://www.facebook.com/sea2stable/

    1. Hello – very interesting work, and thank you for the link. 🙂 I hope she and Pilgrim have a lovely journey together.

      1. Hi Crissi,
        I laughed when you said you grew up loving dolphins and horses, so did I. Since I was 5 I borrowed any pony or horse I could find, riding bareback and wild in Southern California.
        At 19 moved to OB, San Diego, went to Vet Tech School with the dream of working at Sea world as a dolphin trainer. I applied, and was told they would never hire someone like me.. I wear a prosthetic arm, so I abandoned my dream of working with marine life.
        Being horse obsessed, I threw my life into what I knew..horses.
        I’m off subject, I wanted to say I LOVED! North to Home!, Could not put it down, finished toon quickly. So was very happy when I saw the teaser at the end,. Was not ready to say goodbye to Nolee and Keet.. not to mention Wallace just entered the family.Now satiated until your next installment.
        I am new to your blog, well any blog to be honest. Thanks for being here. Difficult times
        Nice to hear from like minded people…And I agree about the horse chores, some of my best thoughts and ideas come when I’m cleaning stalls!.

      2. Thank you for all your kind words! I’m happy to hear that you so enjoyed “North to Home.” The sequel is in the edit/rewrite phase. I hope to have it out next Spring. 🙂

  5. I love this book! Congrats, Crissi. It’s a wonderful read.

    1. Thank you, my friend. 🙂

  6. Ritambhara Tyson Avatar
    Ritambhara Tyson

    I love this especially because I live on an island in the Pacific Northwest and the whales are in these waters. Are you aware of the Lummi nation and their efforts to bring a whale that has been in captivity for decades now in Florida, home to it’s native waters in the Puget sound? Here is a link to that story.

    https://youtu.be/xB0CR_aCxzw

    1. Thank you, Ritambhara. 🙂 I am aware of Lolita/Tokitae and keep updated on her progress, as well as donate. She needs to come home!

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