1. Where did you get the idea for the novel?Butterfly Porcupine is the first of a series of Aintree Tales. For the tales, I wanted to write about London-based teenagers from different racial groups but on an equal platform. It was important to represent but also avoid stereotyping. These teenagers live in a somewhat idealistic (anti-dystopian but not quite utopian) gated-community in West London.
For Butterfly Porcupine, I first came up with the idea of the female protagonist, Tasha. I wanted to explore the character of a teenage girl who is shy to the extreme and has trouble communicating with others. Although the story is complete fiction, Tasha’s character is loosely based on me as a teenager. At the time I remember feeling like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. As an adult looking back I realise I so didn’t!
I had the idea to write about the issue of privacy in relation to popular culture and social media. Social networking has made invasion of privacy more common and opinions are divided as to how acceptable this is. I linked this to Tasha‘s character, as she values her privacy a great deal, and made it a major conflict. The novel may even determine which side of the debate the reader is on, depending on whether it is considered a major conflict or a minor one blown out of proportion.
With Butterfly Porcupine I paid homage to some of the love stories, from books and films that have resonated with me over the years. I was inspired by Pride & Prejudice, Taming of the Shrew, Greece (a movie I watched repeatedly as a child), Say Anything (a movie I watched repeatedly as a teenager) and, of course, Twilight* (the book).
I also planned that Aintree Tale #1 would have a halo while the recently published Aintree Tale #2 in comparison would have red horns and a fork tail.
2. Your title - who came up with it? Did you ever change the title?I came up with the title. It came from a sentence in an earlier draft of the final chapter. It was first ‘Between a Butterfly and a Porcupine.’ The sentence was later changed by my editor and I changed the title to ‘Butterfly Porcupine.’
The ‘Butterfly’ part signifies the metamorphosis Tasha goes through and also relates to Kai in his pursuit of Tasha (which he compares to chasing a butterfly). The ‘Porcupine’ part relates to Tasha’s prickly and unapproachable character, which causes most people to avoid her, while Kai is drawn to her regardless.
3. Since becoming a writer what is the most exciting thing to happen to you?I would say the positive feedback I have received. This was my first ever attempt at writing lengthy prose and I wasn’t sure if I could do it well enough or how it would be received. My mother was the first person to read it and she loved it (but she is my mother). A friend read it for me after that and was also very positive. The reviews have been mostly positive so far, also. It’s been great. Of course, I welcome all reviews and I have taken on board the criticisms – the most common being that it is formulaic. This is true, but there is more to it than ‘boy meets girl’ etc., and it’s most exciting when readers get that.
4. Which came first, the title or the novel?The novel came first.
5. What are you currently reading?I am currently re-reading the series The Cemetery of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I love his writing. It's sort of Dickensian but brought into the 20th century (set in the early to mid 1900s). I always fall in love with his main characters.
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*A series with which I have a love/hate relationship.