The Birth of a Novel: Butterfly Bones
Five years ago, while listening to The Cure, a song called “Caterpillar” came on. I’d heard this song a million times. But for some reason, this time the music and lyrics spoke to me. The title of a book emerged: THE CATERPILLAR GIRL. Before I knew it, the idea for a short story revealed itself.
The earliest version depicted a bullied teen girl with a rare bone disease getting revenge on her tormentors. Blood and gore were at the forefront. So I grabbed a notebook and jotted down my ideas. BETHANY KEATLEY, the MC, crawled from the ashes of my imagination and evolved into a 3-D character. And it wasn’t long before I molded and breathed life into JEREMIAH WRIGHT, Bethany’s best friend and love interest. Along with many other characters, the story flickered to life.
I characterized and plotted until I knew every detail about my characters and the story I wanted to tell. Time to write the novel.
But something strange happened.
No matter how hard I tried, Bethany refused to star in a horror novel. Instead, she pushed me to pen her story—a journey through great loss, tremendous change, and the harsh reality that Mother Nature and Father Time can’t be cheated.
About a month later, I finished the short story. But Bethany still wasn’t happy. I hadn’t told her whole story—not the way she wanted me to. So I set the story aside and listened to my character.
Her wants. Her needs. Her weaknesses. Her strengths. Her story.
Soon, the short story morphed into a full novel, just over eighty thousand words. But that wasn’t the end.
After suggestions from contest mentors, I rewrote the beginning, switched the POV from third to first person, and changed the tense from past to present. The changes allowed me to see holes in the story where I hadn’t before and to make Bethany’s journey even stronger. Like my MC, my story experienced metamorphosis.
Fast forward to signing with Lakewater Press; the editor, Kate Foster, asked me how I felt about a title change. My heart dropped and a lump formed in my throat. No way. The title had always been The Caterpillar Girl—the title had inspired the book.
But as Kate threw out ideas and BUTTERFLY BONES was born, I replayed the suggested title over and over in my head, as well as reciting it out loud—growing fonder of the change with every pass over my tongue.
And then it hit me. BUTTERFLY BONES had a double meaning.
- Butterflies are fragile, yet tough as hell, and so is my MC.
- Since her bones are strengthened from butterfly DNA, Bethany literally has “butterfly bones.”
And that was it. I agreed to the title change and haven’t looked back.
And how does Bethany feel about the change?
She thinks it’s the shizz—freaking shizz-tastic!