A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams
Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .
Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.
Then the dreams begin.
Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It's everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.
Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?
As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?
Cynthia Swanson is a writer and mid-century modern designer. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three children. The Bookseller is her first novel.
People often wonder about what would have happened if they made a different choice or took a different path...well The Bookseller is a take on that premise. This book took on a sort of mystical turn where the dreams of the past started to take over the present. It is unusual story line and one that was like none other I have read. It is set in the 60's which I found very interesting and compelling. I also adore the cover. This is a very different novel and one that the more I think about it, I really think is special. You know why...because I cannot stop thinking about it! 4 stars!!!
An Interview with Cynthia Swanson
Author of The Bookseller (Harper, March 2015)
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. Taking something that could have happened (or in some cases did happen), and using my imagination to heighten the dramatic tension. To do this, I have to make most things up. I could never write memoir; my life is not nearly interesting enough.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. Being able to use my creativity every day, and translating my imagined ideas to the printed page.
Q. What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Finishing a first draft. I get through it one page at a time, with a lot of holes and open-ended questions. I find subsequent drafts less challenging, because I have a general idea of how it’s all going to turn out and what I need to do to get there.
Q. If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. An architect or interior designer…my other passion!
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. The Late Bloomer Finally Publishes Her Debut Novel
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. I’m like Enzo the dog in The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. You might think I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but I’m actually listening quite carefully. I just don’t talk much.
Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. Kitty/Katharyn, the main character in The Bookseller - more so the Katharyn life than the Kitty life.
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. Currently: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Even though it’s a very sad story, I would like a first-hand glimpse of that particular world.
Q. What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now?
A. Quality stories that make readers think, are relatable to their own lives, and get them talking with one another.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. I love autumn. But winter (or at least ski season in Colorado) is a close second.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. We wanted to use a striking image that represented Kitty/Katharyn’s love of books. We also wanted the cover of The Bookseller to have a vintage/1960s feel to it.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. I went to the Mountains & Plains IndependentBooksellers Association trade show last fall, and participated in an event called Books & Brews. Basically, it was speed-dating for authors and booksellers - there were 9 tables in the room, and at each one I got 7 minutes to pitch my novel to the booksellers sitting there. There were drinks available before the event. Not all participating authors drank, but I had one beer, which I nursed for the entire hour. At several of the tables, the booksellers thanked me for drinking with them. I was happy to oblige.
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Yes. Same era as The Bookseller - early 1960s - but very different characters and locale.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. Thanks for reading - not just my book, but all books. And I hope you love The Bookseller!
CYNTHIA SWANSON is a writer and a designer of the midcentury modern style. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three children. The Bookseller is her first novel.
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