A Taster of “Other People’s Butterflies”

I decided to post a taster of my novel Other People’s Butterflies today. It’s a YA contemporary with an aromantic-asexual protagonist, and the plot is a little bit Harriet the Spy and a little bit Gossip Girl. If you like this snippet, the whole book is available here in paperback and eBook form.

In this chapter, Gwen (the protagonist) is hanging out with her childhood friend Ethan, who wants to be “more than friends”. Which is kind of a stressful situation when you’re an aro-ace teenager who doesn’t know she’s aro-ace yet…

***

With Mum and Dad gone, me and Ethan settle down on the sofa to watch the second Captain America movie. We sit close together, but not touching, and pass the bag of Doritos back and forth, getting orange dust all over our fingers. I wonder, for the third or fourth time, why I don’t feel the slightest fluttering of desire for Chris Evans. The guy is all muscles and eyelashes, which must be a killer combination because Martine and Angie both fancy the pants off him and they usually have different types.

“If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?” says Ethan.

I chew this over. A few weeks ago, I would have picked invisibility in a heartbeat – all the better for spying. Now, I think I’d still choose it, but for slightly different reasons. It’d be good for avoiding trouble.

“I’d probably pick invisibility.”

“And sneak into the boys’ changing rooms?”

“Why would I waste a superpower on that? It’s not exactly difficult to see naked people, they’re all over the internet.”

“Yes, I’m aware.” Ethan’s voice is dry and a corner of his mouth quirks into a knowing smile. Time to get the subject back on track.

“So, what would you pick?” I ask.

“Shape-shifting.”

“Really? I thought you’d pick flying.”

“I could shape-shift into a bird.”

“What about invisibility?”

“I could shape-shift into a table and no-one would know I was there.”

“Super-strength?”

“Boring.”

“Mind control?”

“Only manipulators pick mind control.”

I’m giggling now, feeling more relaxed than I have in ages. I love the way his brain works, and I think about telling him this but decide not to, in case it sounds creepy. Too intimate, complimenting someone on their thought processes. Safer to stick with external stuff like clothes and hair.

To compensate for not being able to say the stupid shit I want to say, I cuddle up to him and rest my head on his shoulder. He’s warm, and surprisingly comfortable, and all the drama of the past few weeks fades away into insignificance. All is right with the world, until-

“Gwen, you’re kind of giving me some mixed signals here.”

“Hm?” He turns his head to look down at me but I can’t see him properly; our faces are too close together. I pull away from him. “What do you mean?”

“The last conversation we had, you basically said that you didn’t want to go out. Then you invite me over to watch a film and you’re kind of … coming on to me.”

“What the hell? How am I coming on to you?” My voices rises in irritation, but then I remember Mum and Dad upstairs and hush myself up quickly.

“By being all cuddly!”

“I haven’t done anything to you that I wouldn’t do to a female friend or my bloody parents!”

“You know it’s different when you’re with a bloke. I just wish you’d be more clear with me, like, can’t you just tell me what you want?”

Well, fuck. What do I want, exactly? “Why don’t you just tell me what you want?”

A pause. Ethan doesn’t answer the big questions flippantly, but neither does he leave them unanswered. “I want more.”

“Like, more of this? To spend more time with me? Watch more movies together and have more conversations that seem really childish but are actually kind of thought-provoking?”

“Well, yes, all of that.”

“I want that too.” My eyes are stinging, because I wish more than anything that we could leave the conversation there. “But I don’t think you really want more. I think you want different.”

Ethan says nothing for a long moment. I turn back to the TV, where there is a big fight scene going on. Slick and choreographed and brutal. My stomach aches.

“When you said the friend zone is the only zone you have,” says Ethan, “was that just an excuse so I wouldn’t feel bad, or did you mean it?”

“I meant it.”

“I don’t get it. Do your parents not want you having boyfriends yet?”

“No, that’s not it.”

“Do you maybe … do you maybe like girls? Because you know that’s totally okay, right, you know I’d understand.”

“No, I don’t like girls. And you know what, I’m starting to not like you either. Why can’t you just leave it alone?”

Oh crap. Puffer-fish mode. I’ve gone all spiky so he can’t get to me.

“Maybe I should go.”

“Yeah, maybe you should.”

“Fine, then.”

He stands up slowly, then walks towards the door of the living room slowly, like he’s expecting me to stop him. I could stop him, but what then? He wants one of two things from me:

1) A girlfriend-boyfriend relationship, or

2) An explanation as to why he can’t have that.

I can’t give him either of those things, so I say nothing and let him leave.

“Other People’s Butterflies” Cover Reveal

Here it is – the gorgeous front cover for Other People’s Butterflies!

Ain’t she pretty?! I take no credit for this cover, as it was designed by Rose Sinclair from Art Over Chaos and the sum total of my input was “Errr, maybe it should have butterflies on it?” I’m not the best when it comes to aesthetics.

The eBook is now available for pre-order here (the paperback version doesn’t have a pre-order unfortunately) and it’s only $4.99/£3.52. Slightly cheaper than a Grande Skinny Vanilla Spice Latte from Starbucks!

Yep. Mystery, intrigue, high school drama, 1940s spy drama, ace/aro representation and some serious friendship feels could all be yours for the price of a ridiculous coffee. Here’s the blurb to give you a better idea of what it’s all about:

“Gwen Foster has never been kissed. But when she gets the chance to finally see what all the hype is about, it’s with her best friend’s crush. Embroiled in relationship drama she doesn’t understand, and ostracized from her friend group, Gwen escapes the angst by using her favorite femme fatale as a role model… and makes snooping on her classmates her new pastime. 

Gwen’s detective work appears to be going well, until an unknown social media account starts spilling all the scandalous personal details she’s uncovered. Now this wannabe spy must stop whoever is behind it before everyone’s dirty laundry is aired, and Gwen is forced to finish high school without any friends.

Other People’s Butterflies is a coming-of-age contemporary mystery about not needing to find your first love – but yourself – and how to mend the relationships that matter to you.”

Readers and Reviewers Wanted!

My debut novel Other People’s Butterflies is being published next month *hyperventilates* and I’m looking for book lovers to read and review! If you would like to receive an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in exchange for an honest review of the book on your blog or other social media platform, please fill out this short form.

What is Other People’s Butterflies like?

My novel is a contemporary YA with an aromantic-asexual protagonist, so the most obvious comparison that springs to mind is Alice Oseman’s Loveless. However, I think the plot is more Harriet the Spy meets Gossip Girl. You may be interested in it if:

  • You enjoy contemporary YA.
  • You enjoy contemporary YA with some 1940s spy stuff smuggled inside it.
  • You are interested in books with LGBTQIA characters and themes.
  • You like books about friendship, self-discovery, and the messiness of growing up.

Why are reviews so important?

For a debut author – especially an indie author like me – reviews are priceless. They can build credibility and increase sales, and also provide valuable insight into what readers want. Since this is my first published novel (hopefully the first of many) it’s important to know what readers are enjoying and what I need to work on.

So, if you fancy helping out a debut author and think that Other People’s Butterflies might be your sort of book, please fill out this form to enjoy a sneaky peek before everyone else!

Other People’s Butterflies – Introducing the Characters

(I’m updating this because I forgot to include a rather crucial character!)

It’s now less than two months until the planned release date of my YA novel Other People’s Butterflies. I’m more or less done with editing and you know what? I still don’t hate this book! Usually, editing has me shaking my head and muttering “Who wrote this shit? Oh, right.” But despite my insecurities, I’m really excited to get this novel out into the world.

This is partly thanks to my excellent editor, who was kind enough to point out things he likes as well as things that need fixing. But it’s partly because I just love these characters. Maybe it’s big-headed to say that, because I created them, but I can’t help it. I have a lot of affection for them and I want readers to meet them.

So I’m doing a quick post to introduce my main characters, and I also want to hear about yours. Who are the star players in your WIP? What makes them loveable, hateable, or love-to-hateable? Introduce them in the comments!

Gwen (the protagonist)

  • Easily bored
  • Wants to understand everything
  • Understands very little
  • Makes questionable decisions
  • Aro-ace as hell, but doesn’t know aro-ace is a thing

Martine (Gwen’s bestie)

  • Shy
  • Always smiling (it’s a defence mechanism)
  • Will read every historical romance ever written
  • A dreamer
  • Overprotected

Angie (also Gwen’s bestie)

  • A tomboy
  • Boy-crazy
  • Won’t wear clothes without pockets
  • Pockets are always full of sweets and/or condoms
  • Good at sports

Ethan (a childhood friend who reappears and complicates everything)

  • Total nerd. Owns it.
  • Seventeen, and owns more toys and games than most seven-year-olds
  • Speaks slowly, which makes some people think he is stupid
  • Definitely not stupid
  • Wants to be “more than friends”

Lana Barrington (Gwen’s girl-crush)

  • Fictional (I know they’re all fictional, but she is extra fictional)
  • Badass spy
  • Very glam
  • Good people skills
  • Doesn’t like people

A Good Thing, a Very Bad Thing, and a Poem

A Good Thing

So, I’ve not had the best week. But to start things on a positive note, I’ve been in touch with Rose Sinclair from Art Over Chaos, and things are moving along with my YA contemporary novel, Other People’s Butterflies.

It’s with the editor, and we’re aiming for a June release date, which is (checks calendar) three months away!!! There’s still work to be done, of course, but it’s all very exciting and I’ll be keeping you updated.

A Very Bad Thing

I rarely post personal stuff on this blog, which doesn’t make a lot of sense because my writing is full of personal stuff. Last Thursday, I got an unexpected phone call telling me that one of my oldest and closest friends had died. She was a truly incredible person in so many ways. She was also 32 and planning a wedding, and I can’t quite get my head around it.   

A Poem

I wanted to post a poem to honour her, but none of mine are good enough so I’ve borrowed one from Carol Ann Duffy:

“Miles Away”

I want you and you are not here. I pause
in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
before language into still air. Even your name
is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
than the words I have you say you said before.

Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong,
but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away,
inventing love, until the calls of nightjars
interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain,
into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.