I am pleased to be able to interview Abigail Bostwick for the second time. Abigail’s first middle grade novel, The Great Cat Nap, was published by Cornerstone Press in 2013. It is the story of Ace, a reporter and a cat, who solves the mystery of a missing show cat. Abigail, who publishes as A. M. Bostwick, talked about writing that novel in our first interview. The Clawed Monet is the sequel to The Great Cat Nap and was released in February of this year.
Elizabeth: Welcome Abigail! Tell us what new adventure Ace, the mystery-solving cat, is up to now.
Abigail: Thank you so much for hosting me, Elizabeth! In The Clawed Monet, we find Ace on the trail of a new mystery following the scandalous opening of a new art exhibit at the historic Rhys Art Museum. When opening night is lights out after a peculiar power failure and a priceless Monet reproduction is clawed beyond repair, all paws point to the new curator’s prim and proper feline – Miss Kitty. Hired by Miss Kitty, Ace and his feline and canine friends are out to find the criminal and restore the reputation of Miss Kitty and her companion before they are fired. Tailing the shadow of a “ghost cat” through the historic district and a cemetery, Ace finds himself interrogating museum guests, local residents and even a so-called psychic cat to try and solve the crime. He’ll have to fend off a pack of Dobermans and contend with a gang of raccoons– all under deadline.
Elizabeth: Sounds like fun! Do you have plans for more books about Ace?
Abigail: In my mind, Ace is always having one adventure or another! While I certainly have ideas for a third novel, I don’t have anything concrete in the works right now.
Elizabeth: You’ve also published a young-adult novel called Break the Spell. Can you tell us about it?
Abigail: When Allison Evans walks out of high school the last day of her senior year, she has no idea that her carefully guarded life is about to unravel. Her classmate, Ethan Knight is on the run. Accused of dealing drugs and armed with nothing but a bad reputation and his motorcycle, he takes refuge for the weekend inside the old high school. Thinking no one will find him and no one does. At least not at first. Allison tracks him down, hoping to get a newspaper story out of him. Panicked and left with no other choice, Ethan takes her captive. It should be a nightmare, but together, both of their lives take an unexpected turn. It’s time for them both to stop running from their problems, and in each other, they find common ground and someone they can trust.
When I wrote this novel, I think I most wanted to explore the secrets we sometimes keep, and how they can become toxic without someone to talk to. I found it especially hard when I was a young adult to confide in other people, especially about the things that scared me, or the things I could not fix or control.
Allison’s particular struggle with coping to accept the possibility of a debilitating, life-changing neurological disease – multiple sclerosis – was rooted in my own experience. While I couldn’t hide my early diagnosis from those around me the way Allison did, I certainly found myself wanting to do everything I possibly could to make it more bearable. Even if readers don’t have MS, I think they’ll be able to relate to Allison’s driven motivation to change her circumstances.
Elizabeth: It’s wonderful that you’ve shared your experiences and written about MS in a way accessible for young people. Do you approach writing for middle-grade readers (ages 8-13) differently than writing for young adult readers (ages 13-18) ?
Abigail: I do. When I’m writing Ace, I’m mostly having fun with the antics of felines and canines while also trying to entertain young readers (though I was reminded this week I have readers of all ages for this cat!) When I’m writing for young adults, I’m a little more candid and raw. Kids, especially teenagers, can see right through a façade or something that isn’t real. A book should be, most of all, fun. Engaging. Something people can see themselves in. If kids can see ordinary teens in literature rising to the occasion and figuring issues in their lives out, I think it’s easier for them to envision themselves doing it as well. And that’s empowering for them.
With both, I do my best to keep readers engaged with suspense and humor.
Elizabeth: What advice would you like to give to my readers who are also writers?
Abigail:I think many of us write because we have something to say, or something we want to be heard. Don’t write for trends, or the market, or what you think will sell. Write because you love it, because it’s your passion, and part of you. Write for you. Make friends who are writers, they’ll understand you better than anyone. Also, feed the cat before you start writing or he’ll lay across your keyboard.
Elizabeth: What have you read recently that you feel passionate about?
Abigail: I recently read All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, and I absolutely loved it. She writes with this beautiful clarity, and her characters are so well-drawn and heart-wrenching. In middle grade, I read Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and I’m still smiling about the story. The poetry in it was lovely. I also have to say, two of my great writing friends had books release last week that are incredible – Running for Water and Sky by Sandra Kring and Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black. These are don’t miss books, and make me want to go on a road trip.
Elizabeth: What do you do when you are not writing?
Abigail: I read – haha! I also enjoy spending time with my cat (who looks a lot like Ace), my husband, and my niece, who is turning 9 next week. I garden a little bit, love to paint and enjoy walking in the woods.
Elizabeth: Thanks so much for joining me today.
Abigail: Thank you for hosting me. Always a pleasure.
Elizabeth: If you’d like to learn more about Abigail Bostwick and her books, visit http://ambostwick.com
You can also follow her on Twitter: @bostwickAM.
She is on Goodreads under A.M. Bostwick and welcomes questions there from readers.
Anyone can email Abigail via her website.