Spoilery Paper Butterflies Q&A with Lisa Heathfield

I had quite a few questions after reading Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield so here’s a VERY spoiler-filled Q&A. If you want to read my review of Paper Butterflies first, you can find it here: https://jassyfizzle.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/book-review-paper-butterflies/

1. What inspired you to write Paper Butterflies?
I watched a documentary by Trevor McDonald a couple of years ago from a prison in America – the longest serving female prisoner had a story very similar to June’s and it really stuck with me.

2. Is it set in America and if so, why?
It had to be set in America rather then England because they still have the death penalty – so yes, it’s set in Texas.

3. Did you find it hard to write about June’s abuse so convincingly?
I found the whole story difficult to write as June was so real to me and it was awful seeing her treated like that. The most heartbreaking bit for me to write, though, was when she said goodbye to Blister. I was a bit inconsolable then!

4. Did you have to research the type of abuse that June received?
Much of June’s abuse finds its roots in things I’ve heard, or seen on tele over the years. Kathleen forcing June to drink and not letting her use the loo comes from a friend of mine who was bullied at school for supposedly smelling of wee. The cruelty of those friends has stayed with her forever. I think the dog food came from when a friend of mine bit someone in primary school and the teacher made her sit under the table because she was behaving like a dog. In the first few drafts, the ice cubes forced down June’s throat was a frozen spoon – this was lifted from a horrific tale of abuse I’d read about in the papers a few years ago.

5. Did you always plan to write in a before and after style?
Yes, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ was there from the beginning – the big difference being that initially the ‘twist’ was out in the open, so the ‘after’ sections made it very clear what had happened. It was challenging to re-write them so that they gave nothing away.

6. Was it an emotionally challenging book to write?
Yes, it was a very emotionally draining book to write – it really took it out of me! Not only because I was so wrapped up in June’s story, but also because of the research I had to do for the latter part of the book. I wrote the first draft in just under a month – it totally took me over.

7. Was the ending in the book always the ending you had in mind or did you play around with any alternatives?
The ending changed many times! In the first draft, June died. But my agent phoned me one day and said she was losing sleep with worry that we just couldn’t make that happen. Then I re-wrote it with June getting free, but it was too ‘Hollywood’. The ending as it is now is the right option, I think. And it really does happen – people can get a stay of execution right up until the last second. It’s also true that people with less money really don’t get the representation needed to help clear their name. Innocent people have been put to death – some of them very young.

Blister’s note took me AGES to write. It was so difficult to get right!

 

Huge thanks to Lisa for answering my questions!

A short Q and A with a bookseller | Grace Latter

I have such a great time talking to other booksellers so I thought it would be fun to start a Q and A series. My first guest is Grace Latter!

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. Where do you work and what is your role?
I work at Waterstones Hastings (@WstonesHastings on Twitter and @waterstoneshastings on Insta!). I am a standard bookseller working around 3 days a week, and someday I hope to be awarded an ‘expert’ title in a genre!

2. How long have you worked there?
Only a few weeks now! I’m a delighted newbie!

3. How did you get your job?
I was sick of my previous job, and the nastiness that was occurring there. It wasn’t the right fit for me any more. So I strode purposefully into my local Waterstones and asked if they had any jobs going – I’d also tweeted them to ask as well, keen much! – and they asked for my CV. I emailed it to them that evening and had a lovely interview the following week! And I think the day after the interview when I got a call, the manager calling me was just as excited as I was!

4. What is your favourite thing about bookselling?
People listen to my recommendations and trust my opinions. Sometimes they even buy a book I tell them they should. That gives me the warmest fuzziest feelings.

5. What tips do you have for aspiring booksellers?
A classic life tip that applies here is BE YOU. Revel in your love of the written word and chatter with customers and colleagues about your shared interests. Don’t hide or shy away! Also put your personality into the shelves, face out and write rec cards for the books you love most.

Follow Grace:  twitter  |  facebook  |  blog  |  instagram

Independent Bookshop Week Tag

Facebook_IBW_851x315This week is Independent Bookshop Week and to celebrate I thought I’d join in with the IBW tag!

1. What book is currently in your bag?
At the moment I’m reading SMART by Kim Slater which isn’t a brand new (published in 2014) but is so fantastic. I’m really enjoying it so far and would definitely recommend it to people who love Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as the main character in this is just as likeable.

2. What’s the last great book you read?
Almost everything I’ve read this year has been great (with the exception of The Neva Star which I read very late one night and didn’t really understand so deserves a second read) but the last book I read was Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan and that was utterly amazing. I mainly stick to contemporary YA and rarely read thrillers but this combined both genres so brilliantly and had my heart pounding all the way through.

3. What book have you gifted the most?
All of my friends and family have very different reading tastes so I don’t think I’ve ever given the same book twice!

4. What’s your favourite independent bookshop?
Wenlock Books (and not just because I work there!)

5. What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller?
Anna (owner of Wenlock Books) chose A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler as the Random Reading Group choice for January and I absolutely loved it. It’s a beautiful (and tiny) book about a man who has lived his whole life in a remote village in the Alps and modern life is starting to reach him. It’s the kind of book that makes you long for simplicity and fresh air.

6. What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
All of Books Are My Bag day 2015 was completely magical and the customers, authors, publishers and bloggers present proved just how special independent bookshops are.

7. What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?
To me, bookshops (especially Wenlock Books) mean comfort and warmth. I’ve spent the last almost-six years growing up in a bookshop and discovering who I am and what I believe in through the power of reading. I love that bookshops can be both the most exciting and busy and bouncy places but also the most calm and peaceful and gentle. I love that you can always find a corner to hide away in but that there are always likeminded people willing to share their recommendations with you.

8. What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you? 
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was the first book that I re-read and was the book that proved to me that people don’t have to be defined by their conditions or illnesses. It’s not a story of Asperger’s, it’s a story about Christopher who happens to have Asperger’s and to 12 year old me that was really important.

Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman was the book that gave me the confidence to say ‘yes, I’m a feminist’ because until I read it I truly believed that feminism was for man-haters. It also gave me the confidence to embrace me exactly how I am.

I was most affected by Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It which I think everyone should read.

9. What book do you recommend readers gift for Father’s Day?
I think I should perhaps have done this tag last week…

We had a customer in on Saturday who bought lots of children’s picture flats with daddy characters to give to her husband from her child. I thought that was a really lovely idea and was a nice alternative to buying the same Father’s Day bestseller as everyone else.

10. What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood and The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness are both at the top of my list!

Author Q&A: Lauren James

When I write my book reviews, I always try to contact the author and ask them a few questions about their book so I can add some interesting quotes into my piece. When I wrote to Lauren James, author of The Next Together, she responded with such wonderful answers that I decided to put them into a blog post of their own! I didn’t expect to be sharing these questions so please forgive how sloppy some of them are…

If you’d like to read my book review of The Next Together first, the link is here!

I was wondering why you chose the time periods that you did, and if there were any time periods that you’d have liked to have written about but weren’t able to?
I would have loved to include lots more of Kate and Matt’s lives, but I think it would have been far too complicated to read – and I can’t even imagine trying to write it! It was a little complicated to keep track as it was – especially during editing, when I struggled to remember which plotlines I had written, which I had removed from an earlier draft, or had yet to write! As the plot involves time travel elements, this made is especially confusing, both for myself and my editor. I had to make a lot of posters keeping track of plots.

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Blogger Q&A: Michelle Gately

 

A very big welcome to Michelle, an Australian blogger who runs the fabulous The Unfinished Bookshelf! Michelle’s blog features a mixture of reviews, Q&As, guest posts, interviews, and bookish discussion. I first became aware of Michelle and her blog a few months ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since! It’s so interesting to hear an Australian’s opinion of UKYA and it’s even more interesting to hear about Australian YA! This is the first blogger interview to feature on my blog and I’m so pleased to heave Michelle fill the number 1 spot!

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Follow Michelle!
twitter | blog | goodreads | bloglovin’

1) What’s your favourite book ever?
You’ve kicked things off with the most impossible question! I like it! Hmmm, I really want to say Anne of Green Gables although I’ve only read it once. I grew up watching the movies, so when I finally read the book last year I felt like I already knew it so well. I loved Anne’s character because I always wanted to be outgoing and fun like her when I was younger. Also, Gilbert was my first crush. No matter how old I get, the story and its characters will always, always be so special to me.

2) Book or series that you think are over-rated?

There aren’t too many which come to mind that I’ve actually read. I mean, there are a few very famous books which I’ve just never really been interested in reading, although I’ve seen the film (and actually wasn’t that moved by it). There are also a couple of very hyped series which already seem to have so many books I can’t even be bothered to make the investment in reading them all. I suppose Vampire Academy might be something I never got too into. I read it and enjoyed it at school when all my friends were also reading it, but I’ve never felt the need to continue with Bloodlines (or, if I’m honest, even read the final book in the VA series).

3) Favourite UKYA book?
I still have so much more to discover when it comes to UKYA! But, I’m going to cheat a little and pick two books. Both these books completely broke my heart, but I absolutely adored them. The first is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which just blew me away. I also loved the setting as I’ve always been fascinated by WWII. The second is Saving Daisy by Phil Earle, which is unflinchingly honest and so, so raw.

4) Favourite Australian YA book?
This is so difficult to pick because most of my all-time favourites are Aussie YA. In the same way UKYA has a particular feel to it, there’s something incredibly magical about Aussie YA. But, since I’ve got to pick just one I’ll go with Head of the River by Pip Harry. This is a gorgeous story about a twin brother and sister, Leni and Cristian, who want to follow in their parents’ footsteps and compete in rowing at an Olympic level. It explores the pressures both feel and the drastically different ways they both deal with that. I loved it partly because I could relate so much to Leni, also Harry’s writing is beautiful and so compelling.

5) What’s the 1 book that you’d recommend to your 16 year old self and why?
Although it wasn’t published at the time I was 16, I would love to take Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter back in time for my teenage self. When I was in high school, I had so many dramas with my friends and at the time I used to agonise over it every afternoon when I got home. It wasn’t until I got to uni and met a few new people as well that I realised friendship didn’t have to be that difficult, there didn’t need to be so much drama. Paper Aeroplanes is one of the most honest and accurate explorations of female friendship, but it’s also hilariously funny and heart-warming and I think my 16-year-old self would really appreciate that.

6) What’s your guilty pleasure read?
Great question! It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about before, but I’d have to say any of Sophie Kinsella’s adult books or Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble series as they all made me laugh so much and were really light, fun reads.

7) What book have you re-read the most number of times?
I actually don’t re-read very much, especially not since I started blogging because I have so many new books I want to get through and I’m a pretty slow reader. I think the books I re-read most were actually from my childhood. One of my first ‘big’ books was Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng which I read so many times I can still probably recite the entire plot. When I was a little older, perhaps 11 or 12, I read Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson over and over again.

8) What’s on your wishlist?
I just got back from holidays where I bought five books I’ve been dying to read, so my wish list for published books is actually a little bare at the moment! But there are a couple of Aussie books by some of my favourite authors I can’t wait to read when they’re released later this year: Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood and The Lake House by Kate Morton.

I’m also already anticipating Cath Crowley’s The Howling Boy which is expected to be published next year. And although I haven’t yet read A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab, I can’t wait to get my hands on A Gathering of Shadows, as well as her next YA novel.

9) 2015 top 3 books so far?
The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer. I loved the main character Josie, who is interning at a popular magazine as part of her uni degree. This is such a fun read and bought back many lovely memories of my internship at a Sydney magazine.

Lobstersby Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison. Again, this was just so much fun to read. Hannah and Sam both want to lose their virginity over the summer holidays before college, but fate keeps intervening. I loved both Hannah and Sam, as soon as I finished this I wanted to start it again!

Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow. This wasn’t my usual contemporary read, but I loved it. Set in the future, the novel follows Danny, a teenager living in the Greenworld which has sort of broken away from the rest of society to live in a self-sufficient community while those in the Redworld wage wars over dwindling fuel supplies. There’s plenty of magic in this as well, with witches protecting each village in the Greenworld.

10) What’s you ultimate reading recommendation?
Another tough question! I’m going to recommend the Every series by Ellie Marney (Every Breath, Every Word and Every Move). I loved this series so much! Set in Melbourne, it follows James Mycroft and Rachel Watts as they get drawn into a series of Sherlock-esque mysteries. There is so much chemistry between Mycroft and Watts, it’s ridiculous. If you love Sherlock, you HAVE to read this series. If you don’t, you should really read this anyway because it’s awesome.