We’ve got a copy of THE BUTTERFLY SISTER up for grabs today. As usual, leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win. And just so you know, our entire reading team devoured this book. It comes highly recommended!
Update: we’re thrilled to announce that the winner of this book is Elisabeth. Thanks to all who entered! And don’t forget to check back soon. We have lots of great giveaways lined up for the rest of this year.
To me, the line separating fiction and non-fiction is often faint and blurry, like those maddening blue lines in an inconclusive pregnancy test. Not all but many aspects of my debut novel The Butterfly Sister are based on real-life experiences, from the delivery of a mysterious suitcase, which was inspired by a real luggage tag, to Tarble College, an all-girl school based on my alma mater, Carthage College. But the something true about The Butterfly Sister that is nearest and dearest to my heart is New Orleans.
I was born in the Chicago suburbs, but around my first birthday, my parents moved us to Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. My very first memories of life—feeding ducks at Audubon Park, catching doubloons at Mardi Gras parades, roller-skating and riding bikes outside all year long—all took place there. New Orleans is where I made my first friends, attended my first school, and where I came to understand my consciousness for the first time—you know, that little voice inside your head, inside your heart, that only you can hear? It was where I became Amy. And although my family returned to the Chicago area when I was five, we traveled to New Orleans often over the course of my life. Oddly, those trips never felt like vacations. They felt like going home.
A few months after I starting writing The Butterfly Sister, my mother, Gail, offered to take me for a long mother-daughter weekend to New Orleans just before Christmas. It was my first time away from my then one-year-old son and a much needed respite for a work-from-home mom. But it was also the key to a major setting choice in the novel. Walking around the French Quarter that weekend, visiting some of my favorite places like Pirate’s Alley, Royal Street and Café du Monde, I dreamt up large portions of the book that would eventually become The Butterfly Sister. I saw the city differently that weekend, because I saw it with a writer’s mind. I paid attention to minutiae I had never noticed, like the sound high heels make on the slate sidewalk of the narrow streets or the way powdered sugar dusts off a beignet at Café du Monde.
What I experienced that weekend in New Orleans and during subsequent visits helped me create the detailed, lush, romantic backdrop for the complicated relationship between my main character, Ruby Rousseau, and her English professor, Mark Suter. These flashback chapters of The Butterfly Sister are my love song to New Orleans, the beautifully unique and magical place where my journey in life began, a place I will always think of as home.
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Ten months after dropping out of all-girl Tarble College, Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year, a time marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that caused her to question her sanity.
When a mysterious suitcase arrives bearing Ruby’s name and address, she tries to return it to its rightful owner, Beth—a dorm-mate at Tarble—only to learn that Beth disappeared two days earlier.
With clues found in the luggage, including a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which Ruby believes instigated her madness, she sets out to uncover the truth.