Publication: October 3rd 2017 by Dial Books
Length: 336 pages
Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler has just dropped out of high school. She can barely function after learning of Jonah’s death. Jonah, the boy she’d traded banter with over texts and heartfelt e-mails.
Jonah, the first boy she’d told she loved and the first boy to say it back.
Jonah, the boy whose suicide she never saw coming.
Tess continues to write to Jonah, as a way of processing her grief and confusion. But for now she finds solace in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways: by helping her father with his new alternative funeral business, where his biggest client is . . . a prized racehorse?
As Tess’s involvement in her father’s business grows, both find comfort in the clients they serve and in each other. But love, loss, and life are so much more complicated than Tess ever thought. Especially after she receives a message that turns her life upside down.
Today I’m asking Peter a few things about his new book! His answers will be bolded!
1. Give us an elevator pitch for THINGS I’M SEEING WITHOUT YOU.
“When Tess Fowler learns her online boyfriend has died, a new message from his account turns her world upside-down.”
I think that’s the most I’ve been able to boil it down to, but I always want to jump in and add more. For instance, there’s lots of funny funeral stuff! And a race horse! And a father/daughter story!
I guess I’m imagining a longer elevator ride for my pitch.
2. What’s one thing that you wish you had known about publishing?
A good publisher likes to take their time to get a book right. I remember when my first book was acquired, I was thinking, “This thing is perfect so obviously it will be out in no time.” Then I embarked on a year of editing. And that was after I had already edited it with my agent. Books take a long time at every stage, but ultimately I think that’s a good thing. A book is not meant to be temporary. It’s supposed to live on, so it’s a worthy goal to perfect it.
3. What’s the weirdest thing you researched while writing this book?
This book has a lot of material about funerals in it, so there was no end to the strange and macabre things I read about. I guess one of the oddest things to me were the companies you can pay to keep your social media accounts going when you die. No matter how good a job they do, I’m just not sure the world needs a meme from me after I’ve left this world. Go back and cherish the old memes!
4. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an author/start writing?
Don’t be in a huge hurry to professionalize and publish. First take the time to figure out what kind of writer you are and what you love to write about. Experiment. Write huge amounts of pages and throw them out. Give yourself the freedom to fail spectacularly. Eventually, you’ll recognize who you are as a writer, and once you have that confidence and talent, people will be hungry for your stories.
5. What’s one book you would have no trouble rereading for the rest of your life?
I love The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s a beautiful little fairy tale, and every time I pick it up, I’m immediately swept up in the narrative like a child hearing a bedtime story.
6. How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?
Sometimes I just know what a character’s name is; sometimes I have to try their names on like hats. I’ve even gotten the phonebook out before and started with the A’s.
It’s pretty rare that I would give a character the name of someone I know in real life. That’s just asking them to read an unflattering depiction of themselves and complain. Most characters I write have a lot of different traits from various people I know, and many that are purely invented. That new amalgam of personalities deserves it’s own name.
Huge thanks to Peter for coming onto the blog!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the LA Times award for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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Alice is an 18 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.