An elite ultra-runner bent on success, her faithful dog always by her side, and a touch of spiritualism-by-way-of-reincarnation all combine in this unique and compelling drama.
An ultramarathon, by definition, is any race longer than the typical marathon’s twenty-six (and change) miles. But there’s so much more to an ‘ultra’ than simply taking another post-finish line lap around the block. Often run on single-track trails by numbers far smaller than your average big-city race, ultramarathoning is the epitome of a niche sport—one that attracts a unique breed of athlete. Catherine Matsalla’s THROUGH THE EYES OF BLUE combines this unique setting with a ‘girl and her dog’ premise, offering readers a timeless tale of love and redemption.
THROUGH THE EYES OF BLUE opens with Giselle (‘Elle’ to those who know her), a promising endurance runner with baggage to spare, picking out a puppy she names Blue. A Husky (or maybe Border Collie—she isn’t quite sure), Australian-Shepherd mix, Blue was born to run, making for the perfect partner. Almost immediately, Elle begins to notice some unusual things about her dog—from Blue’s immediate obedience to his myriad of facial expressions, Elle can’t quite shake the feeling that her dog somehow already knew her. Blue’s secret? The dog is actually the reincarnated soul of someone who cares deeply about Elle. Forgoing a college scholarship, Elle jumps right into her racing career. Following a triumphant seventh-place finish at her first big race, Elle signs up for a 50k just a few weeks later. It’s here where Elle gets her first taste of humble pie, ‘bonking’ at kilometer forty and barely trudging across the finish line. Undeterred, Elle’s life soon revolves around her race calendar, and slowly but surely, she begins collecting wins, even landing herself on the cover of Ultra World magazine. Elle’s growing fame soon lands her a lucrative, life-altering deal with a sponsor, and for a moment, it looks as though all of her hard work has finally paid off. From there, Elle tackles one difficult situation after another. Be it the complex relationship with her mother or navigating the unforeseen challenges of success and the envy it breeds, Blue is always by her side, supporting and defending her in any way he can.
Bouncing back and forth between dual first-person perspectives, Matsalla utilizes Blue’s observations to great effect, giving Elle’s narrative context. Unfortunately, knowing the story’s central conceit from the onset feels like a tension-robbing misstep. While Elle’s running career is clearly the meat of this story, the idea of Blue attempting to discover who he really is could have added a sense of mystery to what is an otherwise linear narrative. That subjective critique aside, Matsalla’s refined prose is refreshing. Be it Elle’s ascent to the top of her sport, Blue’s meta-spiritual quest for redemption, or the mother/daughter conflict brewing throughout, there’s a lot of competing elements here, and for the most part, Matsalla manages to weave them together in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Taking the age-old adage ‘write what you know’ to heart, Matsalla leans heavily on her personal experience as an Ironman competitor, channeling vivid glimpses into the race experience that will immediately resonate with any endurance athlete. While it’s impossible to say just how much of the author’s personal story is reflected within the story, the air of authenticity permeating the pages of THROUGH THE EYES OF BLUE is palpable.
Exploring the niche, albeit growing ultra-endurance community through the eyes of a promising young athlete and her trusty dog, Catherine Matsalla’s THROUGH THE EYES OF BLUE is a compelling drama that touches upon the timeless themes of perseverance and redemption.~James Weiskittel for IndieReader
"Emotionally written, with remarkable depth to a canine character, Through the Eyes of Blue draws the reader in and makes them love Blue - not just through his actions and presence in Ellie's life, but through the utter devotion and loyalty he exudes. The examination of the unique attachment that is formed between a dog and a person is wonderfully done, and anyone who considers themselves a dog person will find themselves emotionally invested in this story." — ManyBooks
Through the Eyes of Blue received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.
Following find an interview with author Catherine Matsalla.
What is the name of the book and when was it published?
The name of the book is, Through the Eyes of Blue – published June 2021 yet to be launched with a big party.
What’s the book’s first line?
In the Prologue – it is: Do we truly comprehend how complex love can be?
What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.
This book combines a love of dogs with a love of running. It is purposely told in first person from two points of view – the main character and her dog. The dog, Blue, has incredible insight because he can tap into his past life experiences. Both Ellie and her dog are fiercely driven- one to discover things about herself and the other to demonstrate incredible timeless love and devotion. The story is fundamentally about relationships – the ones we think we have figured out and the ones we are completely puzzled by – including the relationship we have with ourselves. The story takes the reader on a journey of the main character’s self-discovery with numerous plot twists. It also gives the reader a taste of the efforts of endurance events. It also provides intriguing friendships and delves into the diverse and tangled versions of love. The reader will find bits of themselves in this story. It has lessons in the connections we make and how we can be so wrong (or right – when we listen to our intuition). We learn that as we journey forward in life (or in our many lives), we must realize and find comfort that there is always someone (or a pet) who loves and accepts us more deeply than we know.
What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?
My dog inspired me to write this book. He has long since passed but we were together for over thirteen years. He was the type of dog that followed me everywhere. If I got up to move five steps, so did he. He would simply sit and stare at me. I said to him one day, “You must have been a lover from a past life.” That was the beginning of a story idea. I was going through a very difficult time in my life. I think back now, and I am sure I was experiencing PTSD. I turned to running and writing to help me cope and the result is this novel.
What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
If you love descriptive books that delve into “tails” of enduring love, testing self-limits, overcoming adversities and exploring diversity of relationships we have as humans – if you would like a book that combines A Dog’s Purpose, The Secret and Born to Run into one unique story… but add some dog wisdom and humour, then this is the perfect book for you!
What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?
Ellie’s most distinctive characteristic is her willingness and drive to endure pain.
Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?
I don’t know of anyone like her – real or fictional.
When did you first decide to become an author?
I decided I wanted to write a book when my seventh-grade teacher gave me an A+ on a story I wrote.
Is this the first book you’ve written?
Took me over 55 years to write my first book since deciding that I would write one. Just goes to show- never give up on your dreams.
What do you do for work when you’re not writing?
I do freelance writing, coach endurance athletes and do one-on-one fitness training (now remotely via zoom) for clients of various levels of fitness.
How much time do you generally spend on your writing?
When focused on my own writing project – I strive for four hours a day.
What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?
Marketing is the hardest part for me.
What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?
What I found helpful was finding a hybrid publishing company. They offered great advice and held my hand through all the decision-making.
Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling? If so, why?
I might give it a try depending on the deal, only so that I did not have to make all the decisions and could simply write.
Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)
Finishing something I started is what motivates me. If I say I am going to do something – I better do it. I never want to look back on my life and say – I wish I had….
Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?
I cannot pick just one or even ten.
Which book do you wish you could have written?
The Cat in The Hat.