Behind the Book with Kate Jarvik Birch and Perfected

I have a confession: I collect animals the way some people collect shoes. It’s a problem passion that I’ve had since I was a little girl and saw my first horse at the circus.

PERFECTED 1600x2400I used to dream that I’d find a horse on the side of the road (I guess like a stray dog) and that I’d be allowed to take it home and keep it. I imagined how I would ride my horse to school each morning, tying him up outside near the bike rack. Yes, watching Little House on the Prairie led me to believe that little girls could ride a horse to school.

I had books full of horses that I’d look through religiously, imaging which one would some day be mine. Normally I was drawn to the black stallions with flowing manes and large, muscular bodies.

Maybe this dream stemmed from my love of the movie, The Black Stallion (sugar cubes would ever after remind me of Black’s velvety lips). As a little girl I got to sit on the back of the real Black Stallion. My dad met the owner of one of the horses used in the movie and arranged for me to get to ride him during a trip to Texas. For the longest time we had a picture of me straddling his broad back with my arms spread wide.

As I grew up I never stopped loving animals. I don’t have room in my yard for a horse, but I do have three dogs, two ducks, a bunny rabbit and a hedgehog. My dreams have shifted slightly. Now instead of dreaming about animals, I dream about stories. And luckily, my obsession with pets became just the jumping off point for my newest novel, PERFECTED.

I’ve always assumed that my pets were happy (even lucky) to have me for an owner to shower love and affection on them, until I started questioning what it would be like to BE a pet. Bing! An idea was born. What if people were pets? What if I were given the choice between a life of idle luxury and freedom, which would I choose?

In PERFECTED, Sixteen-year-old Ella was bred and raised to be the perfect pet. She’s been promised a perfect life, one of idle luxury, one of comfort and stability. Unfortunately, it’s not a life that truly belongs to her.
At first, Ella is enchanted by her new life at the congressman’s house. Her owners have surrounded her with beautiful things: fancy cars, expensive houses and fine clothes. But when she finds herself falling for Penn, the congressman’s son, her perception of the world begins to shift and she’s left with a choice: stay in the pampered life she was bred to live, a life which might not be as perfect as people have led her to believe, or risk a chance at freedom.

Ultimately, I hope that readers are left questioning not only what it really means to be human, but what it means to be free.

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