Today I am joined on the blog by the lovely Denise Deegan, author of The Butterfly Novels which I have reviewed over the last three days. If you haven’t read my reviews and want to, please click on the image of the book.
What inspired you to write The Butterfly Novels?
I hadn’t planned to write for teenagers. I had finished a two-book deal with Penguin for contemporary books for adults. An artist friend and I decided that we’d like to work together on a picture book for small children. We met in a coffee shop and brainstormed. One of our ideas was for a book featuring a dad who would go abroad to work, come home and tell his little girl about the country he had visited. We both decided that it was too politically correct and boring. My friend went to the loo. While she was gone, this voice came into my head. It was a teenage girl giving out to her dad. She was so angry and sarcastic but underneath it all there was a huge vulnerability. I didn’t know where it would take me- whether it would be a short story, a novel or nothing at all. As I was not under contract and I wanted to have fun, I decided to listen to the voice and see where it took me.
It came to me that this girl’s name was Alex. The reason she was angry with her dad was because she had lost her mother to cancer six months previously and her father had not been there for her physically or emotionally. I realized then that the whole idea for the novel had come from my subconscious. It was reacting to the picture book idea and telling me that it’s not necessarily a good thing when a parent isn’t around. That scene is in the first chapter of And By The Way.
I am so glad I listened to Alex’s voice. The reaction to the Butterfly Novels has blown me away. Teenagers are so amazing. They get in contact with me every day through Facebook and twitter to let me know, not just how much they love the books, but how their lives have been affected by them in so many positive ways. I appreciate that so much.
Did you have the idea planned out for a trilogy, or did it naturally progress that way?
Initially, no, I did not plan a trilogy. After finishing the first book, And By The Way, I really wanted to write books from the points of view of Alex’s friends, Sarah and Rachel. When I was a teenager, I believed that everyone thought like I did. It was really only when I first fell in love, I realized that we are all so different. I wanted to show how different the same world can be from someone else’s point of view.
In the first book, And By The Way, Sarah is the least likable character. I knew that some people who had loved And By The Way would want the next book to be about Alex again. It was kind of brave and maybe a bit mad to chose Sarah but that’s what I wanted to do and, as a writer, you have to be true to yourself. It was the best thing I ever did. I came to love Sarah so much and so did Butterfly fans. For many, And For Your Information is their favourite book.
( I have to admit it’s my favourite! )
Do you identify with any of the characters?
Rachel. Of the three girls, Rachel is perhaps the most sensible and certainly the best friend. For me, she was the hardest to write because we are so alike. The third book, And Actually, was the most challenging for that reason. How can you write about someone who is so together? The answer, I found, was to take them apart. *cue evil laughter*
If the novels were to be made into a film (which they totally should 😉 ) who would you cast as Alex, Sarah and Rachel?
So many of my fans have asked me if the Butterfly Novels are going to be made into a movie. So what I would LOVE is for one of my fans to, one day, make the movie. I would also love for that person to ask their casting agent to hold open auditions so that any of my fans that wanted to could audition. That is what I would love.
(Excellent answer. If only I had the talent to make a movie 😉 )
The Butterfly Novels were an incredibly emotional series for me to read. I particularly felt moved by And For Your Information.. Is it hard to write such emotional pieces of work?
When I write, I become the main character, so for me, too, it’s emotional. And For Your Information broke my heart, more than once but I fell in love with Sarah who proved to herself, to me, and to Butterfly fans just what and amazing person was hiding inside. I feel very emotionally attached to The Butterfly Novels. I find it hard, for example, to pick a favourite because choosing one over the others would be like a mother choosing a favourite child.
Please tell me you’re writing something else! What’s next for you writing wise?
Yes, I am editing two books at the moment. The first is a love story set in the past. I love the two main characters, Maggie and Daniel. And I have loved dropping them into history to see what happened.
I am also editing a YA thriller which I am dying to get out there. I wish I could write faster.
What do you hope to achieve in 2014?
I would like to get both my historical love story and the YA thriller out into the world. I am very, very tempted to self-publish. I think it would be a whole new adventure.
Quick fire questions:
- Favourite author? Darren Shan
- Book you wish you had written? The Book Thief
- Favourite book character? Can I pick more than one? ( Oh go on then… 😉 ) Rudy- The Book Thief, Zach-Goodnight Mister Tom, Sarah-And For Your Information.
- Favourite place to write? That would be in Sardinia by a pool but *sigh* it is usually on my dining room table or in bed.
- Favourite book character that you love to hate? Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada.
- Favourite book series? The Hunger Games
- Hardest book to write in the Butterfly Novels series? And Actually because I’m so like Rachel.
Thank you so much to Denise for taking the time to answer my questions. I’ve been fascinated by your answers.
I can’t recommend The Butterfly Novels enough. Go check them out!
As a celebration of the wonderful Butterfly Novels, UK readers can enter to win a signed copy of And By The Way. Sorry that it’s UK only, if you’re outside of the UK, I seriously recommend that you check out this series if you can. You won’t regret it.