Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sheila Deeth, author of `Divide By Zero'

There’s not a lot of magic and mysticism in my novel Divide by Zero. Seriously, there’s not. I mean, I’m a mathematician; what would I have to do with magic and mysticism? Besides, quite a few of the characters are rather hardline Christians and seem to have a problem with the guardian angel cat Savannah’s younger daughter keeps painting. “Aren’t guardian angels Catholic?” says Savannah, in tones of dismay. And cats? 

Aren’t they pagan? “Egyptian” says her husband. Not that Savannah would really be worried but her friend on the church-women’s organizing committee wants to make sure Sylvia doesn’t sell pagan ornaments on the stall at the church fair. Sylvia offers guardian angel cat broaches and pins and people like them.

There’s not a lot of mysticism in Divide by Zero, but that cat is kind of special. Of course, there might be more than one white cat—perhaps it’s living its nine lives simultaneously in the form of nonuplets. The fluffy Chinchilla, or a sibling, does tend to appear at strategic moments, warding off danger or warning of it, comforting, watching, waiting… And Sylvia really rather wishes she’d had a guardian of her own a few years back, but she’s not going to tell anyone about that…

In reality, there’s mysticism woven into any kind of fiction—the sweet mystique of threads drawn together when entropy’s designed to tear them apart; the whispered pattern of recurring ideas, of symbols between the lines. Some of us speak of God-manufactured coincidences in our lives, of answered prayer, or of angels—maybe guardian angel cats. Meanwhile others just reckon the odds have got to be on our side once in a while.

Me, I’m a mathematician, and the odds just shouldn’t turn out so well as they do, so I’m Christian too. I’ve never seen a guardian angel cat but who knows, they just might be out there. When I imagine Sylvia painting the cat’s feathered wings I smile at her art. Somehow she knows just where to put those extra flapping limbs—I’m still trying to guess. But I did see a cat catch a pigeon once—white cat with gray pigeon wings poking out of its mouth. I wonder if her picture looks like that.

Peter Joseph Swanson included a beautiful cat on Divide by Zero’s cover. You can find the book on kindle at  or in paperback at various online stores. And in a couple of years I’m hoping Sylvia’s own personal story might come out—the publisher ( Publishing) said yes to it. I’m a mathematician; the sequel’s called Infinite Sum and I rather think there’s a guardian angel cat in it.

Sheila Deeth

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