Today I’m interviewing fellow Kensington author Sandi Ward, who has joined me to talk about her new book.
Hi Sandi! I understand the narrator of The Astonishing Thing is somewhat. . . unusual. Can you tell me about it?
The narrator of this story is a cat! Her name is Boo. I decided to write a story from a cat’s point of view as she tries to solve a mystery. In this case, Boo’s human mother goes out one day and doesn’t return. Boo wants to know: what happened to my mother?
As I wrote more of the story, I realized that Boo’s point-of-view was similar to that of a perceptive child. She understands a lot of what’s going on with her humans—but not everything. Boo doesn’t know much about mental illness, or divorce, or what exactly is wrong with the baby of the family. So the reader must go on a journey with Boo, piecing together clues until the truth becomes clear.
I have to ask: Is there romance in your novel?
Absolutely! Although my story is general fiction and I write about families, I love stories with romance. I have never written a story that didn’t include a romantic relationship at its’ core.
To my narrator, Boo, the need to find a mate is completely normal and natural. At the same time, Boo finds the mating rituals of humans very amusing. She thinks people are funny and quirky, and she can’t always figure out what people are attracted to, and why.
In her family, Boo also gets to see up close what devotion truly is about: sacrifice, the willingness to look the other way sometimes, and forgiveness. And even then, no one is guaranteed a happy-ever-after. In real life, sometimes “happy for now” is good enough.
Here is Boo on the cover of Sandi’s book:
Why did you name the cat Boo?
First of all, I just think it’s a very cute name for a cat. It’s simple and sweet.
I also had in mind Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird. He’s another character who is housebound and very quiet, but impacts a story at important moments.
The humans in the story have other nicknames for Boo, like Cutie and Sweetie. Because I’m a J.K. Rowling fan, the character Jimmy (a teenager) also sometimes calls the cat “Crookshanks”. Boo doesn’t get the reference, of course. She has no idea who Harry Potter is, and couldn’t care less.
ABOUT THE ASTONISHING THING:
In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .
Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.
Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . .
Wonderfully tender and insightful, THE ASTONISHING THING explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.
“A unique and poignant tale of a family’s struggle as witnessed by someone who sees everything…a triumphant debut for Sandi Ward.”
— Helen Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Cleo
FIND THE ASTONISHING THING AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER, OR:
Sandi Ward grew up in Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts. She attended Tufts University, and received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University, where she studied with E.L. Doctorow. She now lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a big black cat named Winnie. Sandi is a medical writer at an ad agency in New Jersey, specializing in psychiatry and pain management.
Her first novel for Kensington Books is titled THE ASTONISHING THING, and it is available October 31, 2017. Her second novel is titled SOMETHING WORTH SAVING, available November 2018.
To learn more about Sandi and STAY IN TOUCH:
Learn more at: www.sandiwardbooks.com