READING GROUP GUIDES
Questions for discussion for your Book Club are available here. Don't look until after you have read the book(s) to avoid spoilers!
Does the cat die in the end?
In none of my books does the cat die in the end. My stories are about families in crisis, not about the loss of a pet.
What kind of fiction do you write?
I like to examine the real world, where people don't always behave like we want them to, and relationships are often dysfunctional (whether we realize it or not). When things fall apart, it's up to us to figure out how to put our world back together.
The one element that never changes in my writing is that there is always a love story at the core. My endings may not be traditional happy endings, but they're hopeful.
Are your books appropriate for younger readers?
My cat-narrated books have been read by some younger readers. But please note that the themes of my books are adult in nature. I wrote the stories with an older audience in mind.
I think the books might be a great read for teenagers who are already reading adult books in high school, especially since the families in my stories feature teens facing their own struggles! But for readers younger than that, you may want to check out the book yourself first.
If you are a teacher, parent or librarian with specific questions about the content of the books, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are your books really told from the point of view of a cat?
Sure, but they’re not all about cats. These are family dramas and love stories that just happen to be told from the point of view of a frustrated but loving family member (with a bit of an attitude).
Why do you write from a cat's point of view?
When I first wrote my debut novel The Astonishing Thing, I thought it would be a fun exercise to try and write from a cat’s point of view as she tries to solve the mystery of where her mother went. Boo gives her human family unconditional love, of course, but because she’s a cat I had a little freedom to make her sarcastic and judgmental, and give her voice some humor.
As I wrote more of the story, I realized that the cat could almost be a stand-in for smart 12-year old girl. Boo understands a lot of what’s going on—but not everything, including her mother’s actions. Boo is perceptive in some ways, but misinterprets other situations. So the reader must go on a journey with Boo, piecing together clues until the story becomes clear.
The Astonishing Thing isn’t a story about living with a cat…it’s a story about living with a family member who struggles with mental illness, seen through the eyes of a cat who doesn’t fully understand it.
What do cats think about romance?
When humans are in love, they do crazy things! The cats understand that, and see it as part of the natural order. They knows when a human is looking for a mate based on the pheromones being given off. The cats might know what’s going on even before the people involved do.
Where do your stories take place?
I grew up in Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts. The fictional towns where my characters live represent the coastal areas of Cape Ann in Massachusetts. It’s cold and a little wild, the perfect setting for the isolation or conflict my characters feel and experience.
Tell me about your cat.
My cat Winnie is a middle aged cat. When we adopted her from the local SPCA, we promised we would keep her indoors. But we open windows so she can feel the breeze on her face and watch the birds and other neighborhood cats. She's surprisingly agile for a cat with "extra padding" on her. My kids tell me she needs to lose some weight, but I think she's perfect.
READING GROUP DISCUSSIONS
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