Today I am delighted to be taking part in the Breaking Butterflies blog tour where the lovely M. Anjelais has answered a few questions for me about her writing process, her journey to publication and the books that have inspired her.
The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he’s hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost–written when the author was just eighteen.
Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal–but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.
1. Breaking Butterflies has been on quite the journey over the last few years since you submitted and were shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Fiction Competition. What are the most noticeable changes you’ve seen in Breaking Butterflies as it has developed from your first draft?
I can’t say much about the biggest change because that would give away some important information to those who haven’t read the book, but I will say that the biggest change was the inclusion of a plot element that I’d almost written into the book in the first draft – but then initially decided not to! It’s funny because throughout my experience in editing, my editor Imogen Cooper would often suggest things that I’d already written but then erased, and I eventually learned to just go with my first thoughts because I knew she’d apparently telepathically know about it and suggest it later if I didn’t. This big change was no exception to that phenomenon. All I’ll say is that it’s a plan that Cadence has for Sphinx, and including it made the book a lot more intense than it was before.
2. What has been your favourite part of the publication process so far?
That’s such a hard question because everything that’s happened has been amazing. I don’t feel like I can really choose one part of the process because I tend to view it as one big journey instead of a timeline composed of different events. But having said that, the first thing that came to my mind when I read this question was a memory of the day that I first got to see the cover art. I had actually been very nervous about how it was going to look and if I was going to like it. When I saw it, I was so happy that I cried.
3. Cadence and Sphinx are quite unusual names; how do you normally choose names for characters and what inspired you to use these less conventional names for Breaking Butterflies?
I have a line I always use when people ask me about my characters’ names that usually earns me some strange looks: “I don’t name my characters. Their parents do.” My character creation process doesn’t really involve me making a choice about their names – characters pop into my mind and tell me their names. I have a lot of characters in other projects whose names I absolutely hate, but I can’t change them, because they just came to me that way. As far as Sphinx and Cadence go, though, I think their names are unusual because their mothers were only seven years old when they thought up these names for their children. If an imaginative seven-year-old is going to come up with an idea for what they think is a cool name, it’s probably not going to be conventional. Furthermore, at one point after I’d finished writing the first draft, I looked up the origin of the word cadence and found out that it’s derived from the Latin “cadere”, which means “to fall”. Considering his character, I think that’s really fitting.
4. It’s a slightly clichéd question, but one I am always intrigued to find out the answers for, what are the top five books that have inspired and left a mark on you as a writer?
A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
A Hive For The Honeybee by Soinbhe Lally
I’ve read all of these many, many times over – probably more times than I could count!
5. Do you have a specific writing routine or any writing rituals? If so, what are they?
My writing routine is life. From the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I fall asleep at night, I’m always writing inside of my head whether or not I’m actually sitting down at a computer and typing things out – it’s something that I can’t turn off. As for specific writing rituals, I’ve learned that if I can’t dance, I can’t write! Listening to music while I work is an integral part of my writing process, and I need to be able to move to the music too, often getting up in between chapters or paragraphs to do so. I actually found out the hard way just how necessary this is to me – a few months ago, I was hit by a car while crossing the street and couldn’t dance for a while, which gave me a terrible case of writer’s block. The stories and ideas were still running constantly in my head, but I couldn’t manage to write any of them down. It was really frustrating!
6. If you are able to, can you tell us anything about any current writing projects or what we can expect from you in the future?
I always have about four or five writing projects going at once, and writing is something that I never plan on stopping! I want to keep producing books until I drop dead, and even then, I will probably produce books from beyond the grave. I’m currently working on a story that’s at about 50,000 words and still going, and that’s the one I’m focusing most on right now. It’s quite different from Breaking Butterflies – it’s a fantasy story, with a few magical elements and lots of adventure.
7. What is the most important thing you would like readers to take from Breaking Butterflies?
That strength and purpose is something we all have even when we may feel very small and insignificant, that beauty and meaning can be found even in situations where things seem quite dark, that dangerous relationships should not be romanticized like they often are in today’s culture, and that choosing to live is always the right choice.
Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais, out now, £7.99, published by Chicken House
Follow M. Anjelais on twitter @ANJELAIS and find out more at www.doublecluck.com
Thank you M. Anjelais for taking the time to answer my questions and Laura for arranging my spot on the tour.