Category Archives: feature story

“The Whole Sky” honored at Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award Gala

Heather, along with (from left) Felix Francis, author of Pulse; Shane Ryan of Castleton Lyons, and Sasscer Hill, author of Flamingo Road

The Whole Sky was one of three finalists for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award. Heather, along with fellow nominees Felix Francis and Sasscer White, attended the awards presentation on Thursday, April 19, in the historic stallion barn at Castleton Lyons Farm in Kentucky’s Horse Country.

For the first time in the $10,000 award’s 12-year history, every honored book was a work of fiction. Since its inception, only two novels had won—Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule in 2010, which also took home the prestigious National Book Award, and Andy Plattner’s Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey in 2014.

The Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award is named for the man who launched it in 2006. Dr. Ryan was a globally known businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist who loved horse racing and fine literature. He passed away in late 2007, and his namesake award has since been continued by son Shane.

The Whole Sky was the first young-adult book ever nominated for the Ryan Prize. Felix Francis’ Pulse and Sasscer Hill’s Flamingo Road, two mysteries,  were the other finalists.

Flamingo Road, a spine-tingling tale of crime, gangs, and suspicious racetrack happenings, took home the Prize.

Heather reported the results on her Facebook page April 20:

The Whole Sky did not take the big prize last night at the Dr Tony Ryan Book Award ceremony, but as one of three finalists, I definitely felt I was already in the winner’s circle. Can’t say enough about the other two writers and the judges and all involved with this terrific award, especially the Ryan Family and Castleton Lyons farm!”

 

Lovely feature on Heather and “The Whole Sky” in Advocate-Messenger

Bobbie Curd of the Danville Advocate-Messenger, Heather Henson’s hometown newspaper, has written a terrific in-depth profile and discussion of The Whole Sky.

An excerpt:

Heather Henson can cite various inspirations for her new book for middle school readers, “The Whole Sky.” Her second book involving horses, it’s not a true story — but was inspired by true events. 

Back in 2001, more than 500 thoroughbred foals died on farms in Kentucky from Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS), with the cause of it a mystery for a long time. 

“As far as I know, there was no one person (like Sky Doran, the main character in the book) who ultimately helped connect the dots and solve the MRLS mystery; there was no one girl who talked to horses,” Henson says. “But I’m a writer, so I like to imagine that there was — or is.” 

One of the reasons Henson began writing about horses — her first book about them was published in 2010, “Dream of Night,”  also for middle school readers — is actually because her editor suggested it. 

“I’d just moved home to Kentucky after living in New York City and Brooklyn for 17 years, and I was talking to my editor at Atheneum/Simon and Schuster about book ideas and also describing living on a farm and seeing horses every day —so different from my city life.  She suggested that I think about writing a novel that was literary but would also appeal to young horse lovers.  She felt that since I had moved back to the middle of horse country I would be able to tap into that world, and she was right.”

Read the entire article on the AmNews website….