Name: Peter Bognanni
Available: October 3, 2017
About the book: Fans of Eleanor and Park and All the Bright Places will laugh and cry as they read this heartbreaking and life-affirming novel about love after the most profound loss.
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.
Funny, heartbreaking, hopeful, and wondrous, in the vein of Six Feet Under and I’ll Give You the Sun, Things I’m Seeing Without You is a beautiful examination of what it means to love someone, to lose someone, and to love again.
Who’s your favorite author, living or dead?
I absolutely love George Saunders. The combination of humor, humanity, and pure imagination in his work is staggering. His short story “Jon,” might be my favorite of all time. Go read him now!
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
It sounds cheesy to say, but I really came to love my main character while writing this book. Tess can be difficult, impulsive, and a little mouthy on occasion, but I admire her heart and dissatisfaction with easy answers. She’s the teenager I wish I’d been, flaws and all.
If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose?
I’m going to dip back a ways and say Huckleberry Finn. Not only is he Mark Twain’s finest creation, but he knows how to turn absolutely anything into an adventure. If Huck was on the island, I would never be bored. The only downside is the year would go by too fast.
Where do you write?
I have a little office in my house with bright orange walls (to keep me awake). Objects of interest in the space include: a plaster mold of my teeth, an autographed baseball by my favorite major league manager, Terry Francona, and, wadded up in my cloest, a huge banner with my giant face on it from my first book tour. I keep threatening to hang it up in the house.
Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history?
There are too many to consider here, so I’ll go with the most recent ones I’ve discovered, the female librarians who brought books to rural Kentucky on horseback during the Great Depression. They crossed dangerous mountain paths to provide reading material to impoverished people in Appalachia. Librarian cowgirls risking danger for books! How amazing is that?
Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted?
I just got on Twitter, and I only have 20 tweets so far. But last semester on Facebook, I posted one of my favoriate misspellings I’ve ever gotten from a writing student. The sentence goes “He smelled of leather and cheap bear.”
What is your favorite season?
Fall by a landslide. I grew up in Iowa, and we had long beautiful falls there. I love everything about it. The crisp air. The changing leaves. Also, Halloween is my favorite holiday, so that’s a big plus.
If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go?
Pluto. I’ll be the judge of whether it’s a planet or not.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I try to do it at the same time everyday and spend at least two hours in the chair. The first half hour is usually pretty useless, but if I can make myself sit there long enough, a few sentences find their way to the page. I used to drink about a pot of coffee each session. It was good for productivity, but bad for sanity.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Making my two-year-old son laugh.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I saw Prince perform in front of his old high school in Minneapolis. His high school principal introduced him. I was devastated when he died last year. He was an amazing entertainer and a true iconoclast. Put on some old Prince and try not to dance. Just try.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my second YA book. It’s about a group of misfits trying to save the neighborhood movie theater where they work. I’m a longtime film buff and it’s basically my love letter to going to the movies, which is still my favorite way to spend an afternoon.
Pre-order your copy of Things I’m Seeing Without You!