Launchpad: The Wild Heavens, by Sarah Louise Butler

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Wild Heavens, by Sarah Louise Butler, which Richard Van Camp says "is wonderfully crafted—each page is a catch of the breath, each chapter a crush of unfolding magic. This novel is why we read. I wanted to begin again as soon as I finished the last line.”

*****

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

On a winter morning in the BC Interior, a woman steps out of her cabin to find an impossible set of tracks laid out in the snow. Her subsequent journey leads her deeper into the surrounding mountains, and into the decades-old mystery of her husband’s sudden disappearance.

Describe your ideal reader:

My ideal reader is someone who would love to happen upon a tiny, unexpected bookstore up in a treehouse, deep in an old-growth cedar forest.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with:

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond by John Zada. All the fairy tales I read as a child, and The Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds.  

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?

I learned that while perfectionism is a feral thing that I may never manage to truly tame, I can occasionally coax it into moments of peace in which it will warily eat seeds from my hand while I surreptitiously press ‘Send’.

How long did you work on this novel?

For close to a decade, mostly in stolen moments—taking notes during fishing and hiking and camping trips, composing dialogue in my in my head while working in the bakery, editing ferociously on my front porch early in the morning before my son was awake. The story came to feel less like something I was working on and more like a place I could happily visit.

An important part of any book launch is the thank you’s. Go ahead, and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.  

I’d like to thank the person or persons who have been anonymously mailing me photos of friends and writers and bakery colleagues, each reading The Wild Heavens while artfully posed in amusing locations.

What are you currently reading?

Greenwood, by Michael Christie. It feels like a perfect blend of beauty and tragedy for our current times. I’m getting nervous because I’m nearly done and my next order of books hasn’t arrived yet!  I’ve ordered The Lesser Blessed, by Richard Van Camp, Strange Things Done, by Elle Wild and a nonfiction book written by our Provincial Health Officer here in BC, Dr Bonnie Henry’s Soap and Water & Common Sense.

 

 

About The Wild Heavens:

It all starts with an impossibly large set of tracks, footprints for a creature that could not possibly exist. The words sasquatch, bigfoot and yeti never occur in this novel, but that is what most people would call the hairy, nine-foot creature that would become a lifelong obsession for Aidan Fitzpatrick, and in turn, his granddaughter Sandy Langley.

The novel spans the course of single winter day, interspersed with memories from Sandy’s life—childhood days spent with her distracted, scholarly grandfather in a remote cabin in British Columbia’s interior mountains; later recollections of new motherhood; and then the tragic disappearance that would irrevocably shape the rest of her life, a day when all signs of the mysterious creature would disappear for thirty years. When the enigmatic tracks finally reappear, Sandy sets out on the trail alone, determined to find out the truth about the mystery that has shaped her life.

The Wild Heavens is an impressive and evocative debut, containing beauty, tragedy and wonder in equal parts.

April 24, 2020
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