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256 pages, Hardcover
First published August 4, 2020
It isn't fair to be the kind of creature who is able to love but unable to stay.
There is nothing so disturbing as a creature born to flight being bound to dull lifelessness.--------------------------------------
A nameless sadness, the fading away of the birds. The fading away of the animals. How lonely it will be here, when it’s just us.Franny Stone has always had large volumes of wanderlust coursing through her veins. From? To? Both? Neither? It seems that this is an ancestral gift. Excellent for seeing vast swaths of the planet’s landscape. Maybe not so good for establishing a secure base of operations in, say, maybe, a family, living in, oh, a home.
The sea for her is one of the great loves of her life. Maybe it’s the family she never had. She feels more connected to her body, and weightless, and almost able to fly like the birds she loves. - from the -WriterUnboxed interviewShe is smitten with birds. We learn that she had had a particularly connected dealing with crows as a child. In another one of the lookbacks she is working at a University, decides to pop into an ornithology class, to bolster her innate interest, and finds, unsurprisingly, that she loves it, that she has an excellent feel for the course material. This does not go unnoticed by the professor, who is soon gaga over her. Niall’s love for the natural world, birds in particular, is as great as Franny’s love for the sea, but he is able to fulfill this passion by study, research, and teaching, without having to give up everything to pursue his interest. His is a stable passion, although no less a passion than hers.
Niall is absolutely symbolic of the birds for Franny. He represents the idea that you can study what you love without taking away from the magic in those things. - from the Dead Darlings interviewTheir relationship takes flight, Franny’s third true love, but her wanderlust remains overpowering. It was always there, still is, and e’er will be.
I tried for Niall, like I did for my mother. I really did. But the rhythms of the sea’s tides are the only things we humans have not yet destroyed.The family piece is important. Her mother encouraged her to read a lot. In addition to expanding her brain, it was a way for Franny to leave, without having to physically take off. And it worked. Her mother was particularly sensitive to leaving, having been abandoned by her mother as a child. Franny knew about this, and her mother’s promise that if Franny ever left it would be the last straw for her. The call comes when Franny is ten, and she does an adventurous runner with a fellow adventurer. But when she comes back two days later, Mom is gone. And Franny is packed off to her grandparents in Australia, her father having been out of the picture for a long time. Adult Franny goes on a search to find out what had happened to her mother, one of several lookback threads.
It was really important to me to write the moments in Franny’s past that make her who she is, and for the reader to be able to experience those moments on an intimate level with her, because I felt that this would allow readers to connect more deeply with her and what drives her through the story. There’s also a lot of tension to be built in using suspension and mystery—you leave clues peppered throughout and only reveal information at moments that will create catharsis for your readers. - from the Amazon interviewFranny sustains a number of secrets. Aboard the boat she suffers from night terrors, even to the point of some life-threatening somnambulism. Why? What’s the deal with all those letters she writes but fails to send? What happened with her mother? Is that even a secret or just a mystery? There are more. And she is not the only one. Some of the Saghani crew have plenty of their own.
I didn’t want to write a dystopian novel about the physical impacts of climate change, such as what would become of our food supply. I wanted this to be an existential look at the way the loss of the animals would make us feel, and I think this was a refusal of the idea that humans are the most important things on this planet, and that everything exists in service to us. I wanted the world I drew to look almost identical to the world today, apart from that one major difference, hoping that this would be a more confronting way to predict how close a future without animals really is. - from the Amazon interviewFranny Stone is a fascinating and engaging character. Admittedly, most of us will not share her compulsion to just go. But, while it is likely that our traumas do not match hers, we have all suffered trauma of one sort or another. And while few of us have had to endure the chained up, tied down feelings or experiences Franny has, many of us have spent long stretches of time in places and/or situations we would rather not inhabit (I certainly have). And while we may not have the NEED that Franny experiences, we all have things we want, desires that are unfilled, whether in lower case or bolded caps. So, while we may or may not identify with the specifics of her experience, we can certainly identify in one way or another with Franny’s pain, with what remains unquenched, fueling potential movement.
A shiver of delight finds me as we set out into the dark water. We hug the coast, traveling north by the ceaseless circling light of the lighthouse. The salty smell of the sea and the sound of its crash, the sway of the waves and the black abyss of its depths, the reaching dark of it, up to where it meets the inky velvet sky pricked through with glitter. With the stars reflected in the water we could be sailing through the sky itself; there is no end to it, no end to the sea or the sky but a gentle joining together.