Knowing things

Recently a bookstore chain in Germany interviewed me, and one question really got me thinking: What is the role of the non-human character, the greyhound, Captain Ahab?

Greyhounds are a little bit odd. They’re different than other dogs. Their affection is subtle; their presence is calm and cool; and they have many quirks (they rarely sit, for example).

Like her dog, the grieving narrator of Simply From Scratch is a little … different! An artist, Zell “feels” the world more intensely than most people. She’s got her fair share of quirks too: talking to Ahab in pirate-speak; composing emails to Nick, her deceased husband. Captain Ahab’s reserved yet quirky personality underscores that of Zell.

Many people who feel a bond with animals will tell you that animals know things. They know when their people are hurting. They know when there’s celebration in the air.

Captain Ahab joins literature’s many animal characters that serve to remind us of intuition, of inner-knowing, of keen perception. In the very first scene of Simply From Scratch, Ahab looks on as Zell discovers a present hidden in her oven, a gift Nick intended to give to her. Not emotionally ready to open it, Zell hides the present away, until the end of the book.

But I think part of her knows all along what’s in that box. Some readers might know it, too.

(Only a few more weeks now until the official publication date of August 5. In the meantime, click here to pre-order!)

~Alicia Bessette

P.S. For information about greyhound adoption, see the National Greyhound Adoption Program, where Matt and I rescued Stella.

14 Replies to “Knowing things”

  1. Oh, I’m so glad you got a rescue dog! Most of our animals have been rescues too.

    Just once I really wanted a purebred (a Balinese). We went to a breeder and reserved a kitten to pick up after weaning the next month. During the interim, my mom spotted an ad from a vet that had been brought an abandoned Balinese someone had found on the roadside. Mom called my school claiming “family emergency” and we raced to pick up “Balia” who then lived with us for many years 🙂

  2. When I was about four years old we lived in the small town of Clay Center, Kansas. For some reason I decided I wanted a dog. I picked up the phone and called the fire department as I knew they had a dog. I asked them if they could get a dog for me. The fire department called my dad at work and said, hey, your kid wants a dog and we have some puppies here. My parents agreed to this (and got a big laugh over my first phone call) and I got a Dalmatian mix puppy.

  3. Kathy: yes, it’s my experience that most other people I meet who have greyhounds say their dogs are pretty quirky — and also very sweet-tempered and mellow to the extreme!

    Scott: That is so sweet.

    Emily: It’s so nice that Balia found you!

  4. Stella is the second greatest dog in the world! (sorry, but Sable is the greatest!! and also a rescue dog, though not a quirky greyhound….)

    your book cannot be released fast enough.

  5. Animals have always been a constant in my life…mostly cats but I’ve had my share of dogs too. And they do know things. Winter Huddleston knows when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and she dances and grieves right along with me (all the while petting my cheek as if she were human). Quirky in her own right, I’ve noticed that some of hers reflect my own. Hmmm… On another note, my dad has a dog that is “nervous.” A yellow lab that licks himself until the spot bleeds (and keeps licking and reopening wounds), my dad also picks at his skin in the same spot until his scabs form callouses over the scabs. Hmmm….

    Animals are much more connected to the “natural” world and are thus much more connected to intuition than most. They are our guides…and our loves!

    Stella is awesome! And Ahab…fire me timbers…. He definitely stole my heart!

    Can’t wait for the world to meet the whole gang!!

  6. What a beautiful dog! We always acquire our pets from rescue organizations & I’ve wondered about Greyhounds before. Right now we have an elderly Australian Shepherd who is deaf, mostly blind, and has severe arthritis, a torn ACL & a vestibular disorder. He still gets around OK, but he gets lost on hikes in the woods and can’t hear us calling him. We got a new little herding dog (Australian Kelpie) back in October, and have trained her to go find the old dog in the woods and herd him back to us. Amazing to watch!


  7. What a nice glam shot of Stella!

    I never had any pets growing up and for a long time I never really understood why so many pet owners obsess over their dogs. From afar, they seemed like more worth than they were worth. All that changed a few months ago when my boyfriend and I had the pleasure of dogsitting a terrier for the weekend. By the end of the weekend I really felt like she inexplicably “knew” me. I was so sad to see her go. Stella sounds like a real member of your crew!

  8. Alicia, how exciting that the countdown is on for your pub date! I’m so thrilled for you–especially for the fun Germany news you shared today. Bestseller list?! Wow! What publisher are you with in Germany? Heyne-Velrag (Sp?) bought mine, to be released next summer. 🙂 xo

  9. Hey, it’s great to see your book everywhere in the bookshops here in Germany!!! I’m convinced people will love it 🙂

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