The Story Behind the Story: Butterfly Serenade
January 17, 2018 04:14 PM Posted by juliannadouglas
As writers, I think we often borrow inspiration from various creative sources, such as other books, television shows, movies, photographs, works of art, etc. In the case of Butterfly Serenade, the thing that created the initial spark for the story was my reading of Debra Anastasia’s Poughkeepsie. In her book, there is a scene in which one of the female leads strips naked and dances seductively and with abandon for her hero. However, he doesn’t make love to her in that particular moment, and instead, helps her get dressed afterward. It was a sweet scene that stuck with me and gradually began to take on a different, and somewhat darker, form in my mind’s eye.
In my version, I saw a naked young woman awakening her hero from slumber with the intention of trying to get him to have sex with her. However, she has no real idea how to go about tempting him, so her seduction is awkward and artless at best, and only undertaken because she thinks it’s what she needs in that moment. Her hero, being the wonderful man that he is, almost instantly recognizes that something isn’t right, covers her up, and tries to talk to her. She, in turn, keeps trying to uncover herself and all but begs him to have sex with her. As he continues to refuse, she finally asks the pained, emotion-laden question, “Why won’t you just fuck me?” His response is, “You don’t deserve to be fucked. You deserve to be loved. And when I make love to you, I want it to be all of you and not just your body.” While I might not have fully realized it at the time, this became one of the most pivotal scenes in the book, because it’s the moment when Rose finally understands that not all men are monsters and that she truly can trust Colin. It also became the scene around which I built the entire rest of the book.
Once I had this powerful scene in my head, I knew this young woman’s story needed to be told. But exactly what was it that drove her the point where she believed she was only good for fucking? I recognized right away that she had been abused and I decided that it had to have been pretty horrific. Eventually I came to the conclusion that she had been abused in just about every way a person can be: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, spiritual. I felt like I had a good enough handle on most of these abuses to be able to build a decent character profile, but the one area in which I didn’t feel as well-versed was spiritual abuse. I had some ideas in mind, but it wasn’t until I started doing research that the whole cult angle arose. During that time, I read some truly disgusting, horrifying and stomach-turning stories, sometime so bad that I had to stop doing research for a little while to maintain my own mental health. Some of those stories ended up being channeled into Butterfly Serenade and it’s characters, so some of the things that my characters experience in this fictional world have actually occurred in the real world. Ultimately Rose was a girl who thought she was moving forward, but since she’d only closed the door on the past instead of actually dealing with it, she was barely putting one foot in front of the other and not really living.
Now I had my heroine, but after all the pain and darkness she’d been through, I had to ask myself what kind of hero she needed to help her face her demons and find her way again. The short answer was a kind, compassionate, and loving one who would be supportive of her no matter what and who could see past all the emotional gunk to find the beautiful person inside. But his background and exact qualifications for such a role eluded me for a while. It wasn’t until I met Kaden James (who BTW gets an honorable mention in the book and is seen on Colin’s character profile page on my website) at the Romance Novel Convention that Colin finally came to life. Kaden is not only a model but also a very talented musician/singer/songwriter, who in the very brief time I spent talking with him and later interviewing him via email, struck me as being very much like Colin. Despite suffering from exhaustion, due to anxiety and lack of sleep, on the drive back from Las Vegas (my husband thankfully was doing the actual driving :-)), I started thinking of both Kaden and Colin, and had a proverbial lightbulb moment. Music can speak to us in deep and mysterious ways and can be very therapeutic. Without a doubt, I now knew that Colin was a musician who was using his gift to study music therapy, and it was with those skills that he was going to bring Rose back to life and restore her hope.
From there, the rest of the story just started falling into place. I knew it was a new adult, college romance, and I wanted a beautiful, serene environment for Rose to find her healing and fall in love with Colin. Being from Arizona, choosing Flagstaff as the setting was a no-brainer. Flagstaff is a college town in the middle of a forest at the base of the gorgeous San Francisco Peaks, so it was tailor-made for my story. All the rest simply floated from the ether into my conscious imaginings, and after many months of diligent writing, Butterfly Serenade was finally born. I love Rose and Colin. Rose grows and changes throughout the book, finally emerging from her cocoon with the knowledge that she is indeed worthy of love, while Colin is her loving, supportive, steady rock throughout. This wasn’t an easy story to write by any means, and it probably won’t be an easy read either. But I do hope that it’s one that you’ll grow to love and appreciate for it’s honest and unvarnished journey of a young woman from brokenness back to wholeness, peace, and best of all, love.
Categories: The Story Behind the Story, Writing
Tags: Butterfly Serenade