Q&A with Paper Butterflies Author Lisa Heathfield

UK author Lisa Heathfield stops by the blog to talk about Carnegie Medal-nominee Paper Butterflies, which was released in the US on October 1.

Q&A with author Lisa Heathfield

First, tell us a little about yourself!

Lisa Heathfield's cat Panda

I live in Brighton, a beautiful city on the south coast of England, with my husband, our three sons, and our cats. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been reading and writing–I think I was born with a book in one hand and a pen in the other! I love swimming in the sea–even in the snow–and singing in my gospel choir.

How did you start writing?

I have always being scribbling away and knew that I wanted to write a book. A friend suggested that I write 500 words as a New Year’s resolution, so I stuck to that and before I knew it, I had a novel!

What inspired Paper Butterflies?

Paper Butterflies YA novel by Lisa HeathfieldI was writing another book when June walked into my home and asked me to write her story instead. She was as clear to me as if she was a living, breathing person. And she was very persistent!

Eventually I told her that I’d write her first page (as a sort-of pact that I would one day write her story), but that I had to finish the book I was working on. June was quieter for a while, but she didn’t go away. I spoke to my editor about her and she said that this was the book I had to write. I picked up my pen straight after that phone-call and within four weeks the first draft of Paper Butterflies was finished.

How does the title relate to the novel?

June has a really difficult life and suffers unimaginable cruelty. Her only escape is the time she spends with Blister–a boy she meets in a field of run-down trailers. He loves origami, which is where the Paper part comes from. And June is like a butterfly–she transforms her life against the odds. In time she learns that she is beautiful and strong and though she feels trapped, there’s a chance for her to fly to freedom.

Paper Butterflies has been called “heartbreaking” and “the antithesis of cheerful summer romance.” Your debut novel, Seed, features a teenager who grew up in a cult. What drives you to write about such difficult subjects, and why do you think YA readers have responded so positively?

lisa heathfield
Lisa Heathfield

I used to love reading dark books as a teenager. I still do! And I absolutely loved writing Paper Butterflies–spending so much time with June, even though it did break me emotionally. I cried so much when I was writing it, not only for June, but for other people in her circumstances. There’s something fascinating and terrifying that behind a perfect-looking front door, horrors can be unfolding.

I suppose that Seed also has a similar theme. The place where the cult is based is beautiful on the surface, yet there’s an undercurrent of darkness just waiting beneath.

I think readers, both adults and teens, have responded so positively as my books are traumatic, but reading itself helps you experience difficult things from a place of relative safety. I also know that some people can unfortunately relate to the situations in my books–I’ve received harrowing messages from people who have suffered and can relate to June.

Ultimately, I think that people like the fact that Paper Butterflies isn’t just about heartbreak – there’s a lot of love and hope in there too!

Look inside Lisa Heathfield’s Paper Butterflies

Click here to get a sneak peek of the book. Plus, download a discussion guide for classroom and book club use!

Paper Butterflies is available through lernerbooks.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, and all major distributors.

One thought on “Q&A with Paper Butterflies Author Lisa Heathfield

  1. Pingback: Blog Tour Review: Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield | Kourtni Reads

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