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The simple reasoning behind this name is that those are the novel’s two main characters: Cher Ami, a World War I messenger pigeon, and Charles Whittlesey, a World War I soldier, both of whom really existed and were famous in their day, though they’ve become largely forgotten now.
I often rotate from project to project as I wait to get distance on something in order to revise it, or as I wait on comments from friends/first readers, or as I wait on edits from my agent and so forth.
As is common in that style of architecture, it has a solarium in the front, facing the street, a little room that’s essentially floor-to-ceiling windows on three of its four sides. We’re on the top floor, three stories up, so the view is gorgeous, and pretty writerly—we’re up in the treetops where we can see birds galore, which felt like a good omen because this book is so focused on the lives of birds and birds-eye views of World War I.
makkai.com/) rightly argued that this kind of summing up was better for nonfiction than fiction, and so I cut it. I don’t have a picture of the marked-up draft, but there wasn’t much marking anyway because I chopped it out wholesale.
Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches in the English Department at DePaul University, and her most recent books include the national best-seller, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin’s Press 2017 / Picador 2018) and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte (Spork Press, 2018). Her new novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, based on a true story of the Great War, will be published by Penguin in August of 2020.
by Karen Hugg