A Day with Deidre Knight

Today’s guest Deidre Knight’s Butterfly Tattoo is the first book I’ve ever bought based on a review. I knew it would be good — Angela James edited it after all, and I’ve rarely been let down by one of her books ;)  But it was even better than I’d hoped. Butterfly Tattoo was one of those books that I started reading in the evening and couldn’t put down until I’d finished it in the wee small hours of the morning. (You may remember me mentioning it on my Favorite Reads of 2009 blog post.) Deidre managed to capture Michael’s grief so perfectly I often found myself rubbing my sternum to ease the ache that formed in empathy. The rubbing of my chest didn’t stop the tears from filling my eyes in many scenes either.  (Did I mention I love a book that can make me cry?)

Michael Warner has been drifting in a numb haze since his lover was killed by a drunk driver. As the anniversary of the wreck approaches, Michael’s grief grows more suffocating. Yet he must find a way through the maze of pain and secrets to live for their troubled young daughter who struggles with guilt that she survived the crash.

Out of the darkness comes a voice, a lifeline he never expected to find—Rebecca O’Neill, a development executive in the studio where Michael works as an electrician.

Rebecca, a former sitcom celebrity left scarred from a crazed fan’s attack, has retreated from the limelight and from life in general, certain no man can ever get past her disfigurement. The instant sparks between her and Michael, who arrives to help her during a power outage, come as a complete surprise—and so does her uncanny bond with his daughter.

For the first time, all three feel compelled to examine their inner and outer scars in the light of love. But trust is hard to come by, especially when you’re not sure what to believe when you look in the mirror. The scars? Or the truth?

So when I saw that Butterfly Tattoo was coming out in print, I sucked up my courage and invited Deidre to be a guest on my blog because I really wanted to introduce you to this wonderful book. Yes, even though I have my own book out in print now, I’m still awestruck by my guests, and even more blown away when they say “Yes” and write something specifically for my blog. Asking Deidre to be my guest was no exception, in fact it was even more scary because in addition to being an author, Deidre owns her own literary agency. (Yikes! Talk about intimidating!)

So despite running her agency, running around attending conferences, caring for her author clients, writing her own books AND caring for her family, I’m thrilled (and honored) that she took the time out of her schedule to answer my questions. Oh, and authors? You need to read the story of how Deidre sold Butterfly Tattoo — it’ll remind you of all those times you’ve hit your forehead against your desk…eh, I’ll let Deidre tell the story…

Leah: There are two references to butterflies in Butterfly Tattoo – the butterfly knife her stalker used that left Rebecca scared both inside and out, and Michael’s tattoo – that he describes as a ‘pure, perfect reminder’ of Alex’s love. Did you deliberately set out to write that juxtaposition or was it something that you only realized it when looking back on your finished manuscript?

Deidre: Yes, that was absolutely deliberate.  I couldn’t believe that there was something so perfect as a butterfly knife, actually, when I was working on that opening line (which I rewrote and came later in the process of writing the novel).  I really felt that was part of the magical way the universe moves when you’re creating art of any kind. 

Leah: I am in awe of how you manage to pack such emotion into the writing, how you get the reader to feel the grief that Michael is experiencing. There’s a scene with him and Andrea meeting with their therapist where Michael’s thinking about how Andie refuses to call him Daddy anymore, instead addressing him as Michael. Every time I read that scene, my chest closes up and I find myself crying, it’s so powerful.  As an author, I’ve scoured those sections trying to figure out how you did it.  Who were you influences in learning to how write such emotion? Or has it come naturally for you?

Deidre: I’m not being coy when I say I haven’t had any influences when it comes to writing emotion.  I think some of the power of BUTTERFLY comes from the fact that I am a mother of two daughters, and really the first little spark of the story began with Andrea and her thoughts.  I never gave her a POV, but the book began with her voice.  The other thing that I think brings the story to life is that it was incredibly real to me—as in, I knew these people inside and out, including all sorts of back story elements that make it onto the page (and some that don’t.)  So the little snippets from the past, like when Michael remembers picking Andrea up from the hospital, the first time she called him by his first name.  That scene, the vividness of it—the blue vein at her temple that looked like a bruise.  Things like that really rooted these characters in reality and magnified their pain and emotions. 

Leah: If Butterfly Tattoo were made into a movie, who would you cast as Michael and Rebecca? (A personal note—I think BT would make a GREAT movie!)

Deidre: Oh, how I wish someone like Ang Lee would make this book into a movie! I find the casting game hard because these characters are SO real to me, that there’s nobody who looks like them.  But, just a stab at it.  I think Rachel McAdams could play a great Rebecca.  She’s got the right “essence” for it.  Maybe Jeffrey Morgan for Michael? I’d love to hear some suggestions from your blog readers!!

Leah: Oh, you won me with Rachel McAdams — she’s Canadian same as me, eh? Last year on Dear Author, you wrote a blog about your “first sale” and said that Butterfly Tattoo was the “book of your heart.”  When the publishing world declared it wasn’t ready for it and rejected it (over 30 times), even Mother Nature seemed stacked against you, throwing a hurricane that destroyed both your cars.  Yet you picked yourself up, wrote another novel in a totally different genre and put yourself out there again. What made you bring Butterfly out and resubmit it again?

Deidre: I was really lucky that when I redirected about the thirty or so rejections, I hit the mark with my Parallel Series.  That was as easy to sell, truthfully, as BUTTERFLY was hard.  Or at least it only garnered, oh, six rejections as opposed to thirty! But I never forgot or let go of Butterfly because I believed in the book that strongly. I knew how close it had come, repeatedly, with New York publishers.  So as the e-book market developed, I decided to give it a try with Samhain.  A chance that obviously paid off!!

Leah: It obviously paid off (and I’m so glad it did!) Care to share your reaction when Angela told you she wanted to publish it? (I’m picturing champagne, lots of happy dancing, and maybe a few tears?)

Deidre: This story is funny. She called and told me that she couldn’t publish it because they didn’t wind up together in the end.  I was like, “What?? I sent you THAT version? Oh, I only wrote that for an editor who wanted to see a less happy ending, and then they passed.” And she was essentially, “So they DO get together?” I laughed and said, “Oh, heck yeah.  Let me send you the right version.” So to me that’s just uproariously funny. That the “Smart” agent managed to send the totally wrong version, which could’ve ended in a pass if we’d not talked thru the ending issue! Anyway, the next day she called me and offered and I squealed and, yes, we went to dinner and drank champagne!

Leah: I can’t tell you how many authors are sighing and thinking “Thank Heavens I’m not the only one. Because I found a mistake after I hit send too.” To know that an agent can make a mistake like that will make us all feel a bit better, I know.  Now for the next question: what’s the most interesting/unusual thing you’ve done for the sake of research?

Deidre: First of all, I LOVE research.  So I’ve tackled all sorts of things. For BUTTERFLY I actually took a surf lesson with a hunky little surfer boy.  He gave me a lot of good information for the book, which is part of why the surfing aspects ring true.  I also visited Malibu several times, drove around in Studio City (and “found” Michael’s house), went on several studio lots—even was an audience guest for WILL AND GRACE.  And, best part of all, I walked past and saw the electrical construction department—which really did have a mounted deer head like Michael’s dept does.  Oh, and with that surfing lesson? Wound up with a dinner-sized plate on my thigh that didn’t go away for a year and a half! But I can say that I’ve tried it.  I also spent time in Santa Cruz, but that was before I started the book—but I returned while writing. Would you believe I have a picture of the house that I modeled the Richardson family home after? It’s not actually Victorian, but retro, still…it was inspiring.  Not only that, but I’ve stood on those slippery cliffs and watched the surfers on Steamer’s Lane. (Leah here — the picture to the left is Steamer’s Lane, and it’s just as I pictured it in the book even though I’d never seen it before.)  In short? I lived this book, breathed it, and then my imagination took every bit of research and wove it together in an entirely different way. Leah again — it comes through in the writing.

Leah: So tell me when you first realized you wanted to try getting published? Was it an Aha! moment? Or was it a dream from when you’d been little? Or were you dragged into it kicking and screaming?

Deidre: I was first published in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution when I was nine years old. I’d written an essay about Barbie that got picked up for the paper in an article about my school’s gifted program.  Later in high school, I was published in a couple of poetry journals.  After college, my real dream was to write screenplays (I worked in film production at the time), but I soon found myself so limited by the spare nature of the genre.  But I didn’t start writing novels until 2000, and I wrote for four years before even thinking about shopping something.  I’d say the reason why was pretty simple—I felt ready.  I’ d spent millions of words perfecting and learning my craft by then, and I was ready to see if I was publishable. 

Leah: To give us a glimpse into a side of Deidre Knight when she’s not an author or an agent, what is something unusual that you do or have done that people normally don’t know or would be surprised to know about you?

Deidre: Well, in the “life achievement” column, my biking trip across Europe when I was in college definitely tops the charts.  Five countries, a thousand miles, all in 30 days.  It changed me in a big way, made me realize that I could tackle almost anything—especially when you realize that I was not exactly Jock Girl.  It also put a burn in me to return to Europe again, and ultimately I did a study abroad in London, but then later returned and waited tables at a pub and wine bar in London while living in a one room flat!

Leah: And finally, what’s your favorite memory from when you were a child?

Deidre: I grew up in Atlanta during a different time. When it was still a bit of a sleepy world (think DRIVING MISS DAISY).  I lived in an apple pie kind of neighborhood until I was eleven, and I have many awesome memories of the 1970’s there. Playing Kick the Can until dark, when my mom would turn on the post lamp as our sign to go home.  That sting of bug spray on your lips because you were wearing so much Off just to fight the mosquito bites while you hunted and searched for each other in the twilight bushes and yards.  Very happy, innocent times.


Thank you SO much for taking the time to be my guest today, Deidre.  Readers — want to know more about this awesome book? Read an excerpt on Deidre’s website (where you can find out more about her other books) You can buy Butterfly Tattoo at Amazon.com, Powells, Samhain’s own My Bookstore and More, Books-a-Million or The Book Depository.  (The Butterfly Tattoo is also available as an e-book here.)

As per FCC regulations, no, I’ve received no kickbacks from Amazon or any of the above stores. No, Deidre never sent me her book for free – in fact I’ve bought both my ebook copy AND my print copy (yes, I own both–I love it that much) with my own hard-earned money. Although I do get royalties from Samhain, they’re payment for sales of my own books, so I’m not getting paid to feature Deidre’s book (or any book) on my blog.I feature them because I like to feature authors I love, and pay some book-loving forward.

Because I love Butterfly Tattoo so much that I want to share it with you, I’m giving away both a print copy AND an e-copy.

Want to win the print copy? You have to work for it a bit. Go read the excerpt, then EMAIL me at leah DOT Braemel @gmail DOT com and tell me who thinks they’re Cinderella and is still searching for Prince Charming. THEN leave me a comment here. You have to both leave a comment here AND email me the correct answer to be eligible. (PLEASE don’t leave the answer here. No, you won’t be added to my newsletter mailing list by entering.)

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of reading the excerpt and emailing me, you can still win your own e-copy of Butterfly Tattoo by leaving a comment here, but tell us what you’d do if you just sold the book of your dreams.  Just leaving a comment of “Hi, enter me” won’t enter you in the contest. You have to say what you’d do to celebrate.

You have until 10 AM EST March 2nd to enter either or both contests — but you can only win one copy.  And yes, it’s open to everyone, not just those in the US and Canada.

38 thoughts on “A Day with Deidre Knight

  1. Great interview! I already own Butterfly Tattoo, so no need to enter me. But I can definitely second your enthusiastic pimp. It was such a fabulous book.

  2. Butterfly Tattoo sounds very interesting! I've sent you an e-mail with the answer for the paperback copy of the book.

    And if I just sold the book of my dreams I would throw a big party to celebrate with friends and family

  3. BT really is a fabulous book and I loved hearing the story about the sale. I laughed out loud at the "sent the wrong version" story. It gives me hope for my own disorganized approach to life. *g*

    Oh, and I too am a huge fan of research. In fact, I got my first tattoo when I was preparing to write a character with one, though mine is quite a bit less dramatic than his.

    Great post!

    Kimber

  4. Enjoyed reading the comments and the excerpt is really good. I have added this one to my TBR list.
    JOYE
    JWIsley(at)aol(dot)com

  5. Hi,

    I just emailed you to enter the contest – this book looks wonderful!

    If I just sold the book of my dreams, I would be celebrating with my family! I love to bake, so I would prob. make cupcakes or something and have a party. Then I would go on a long and well deserved vacation :)

  6. Thanks so much for the opportunity to gain some insight with Deidre. That was a great interview.

    I emailed you for a chance at the print copy. If I sold the book of my dreams I'd go on an all-inclusive dream vacation to the Carribbean with my husband to celebrate. Nothing but relaxing on the beach and playing in the waves! [big sigh of longing]

  7. That was an amazing interview.

    On Valentine's Day I was at our local Borders store with my BFF. We were going through all the new releases, when she asked about BUTTERFLY TATTOO. Because I had read so many wonderful reviews on reader blogs, I highly recommended it. Well, I was thrilled she bought it. I'll just have to wrestle the copy from her after she reads it. *smiles*

    Congratulations, Diedre, in getting the story in print.

  8. well if I sold a book i'd have to start with an adult night out with friends and then the next day have hubby stay home from work so we could spend a day out with the kids probably at the zoo.

    -jennifer

  9. Fantastic post.

    Just sent the email for the print book entry.

    If I sold the book of my dreams I think that I would celebrate by giving to others. I would probably purchase a bunch of copies of the book and give them to the library and to literacy programs. I would probably have an undestated and quiet dinner with my family. Especially the sister that is closest to me in age because she is always encouraging me to try things.

  10. A celebration for selling the book of my dreams would involve lots of champagne and maraschino cherries and all my friends over to my house! No better way to celebrate than with friends and family!

    Miranda

  11. I sent an email with the answer.

    If I sold my first book I'd take all my friends and celebrate with a few drinks..then I'd tell my family with a big celebration dinner.

    I really enjoyed the exceprt.I've seen a few reviews for this and everyone loves it.

  12. I absolutely loved Butterfly Tattoo (in fact I gushed about it on my own blog a few weeks back). Although I was a huge fan of Deidre's Parallel series, this book immediately became my favorite. It's a novel that stays with you for a long, long time. Hands down it's my favorite book released in 2009!

  13. Exactly what Rita said–Butterfly Tattoo is a book that stays with you long after you've read the last word. Rebecca and Michael are such rich characters, and they really don't let go easily :)

    I have to say that although I'm an avid reader, I don't have dreams of selling a book; I do dream about being able to buy all the books of my dreams and having my very own home library where I can shelve and read them all… Floor-to-ceiling shelves with those neat sliding ladders, some comfortable reading chairs, a window seat, lots of great light… Ahh…

  14. I want this book BAD! As for if I ever sold the book of my dreams…well I'm pretty sure I would take ad space somewhere just so I could announce it OR if that was too expensive a move…Well…I would shout out about it on my blog…at least for a month…slip it in every conversation I'd have…Basically make a giant genuine a$$ out of myself.

    Happy Reading
    Anna Shah Hoque
    s7anna@yahoo.ca

  15. LOL, Anna, you've been taking notes from me, haven't you? (Because that's about what I did!)

  16. I hope BUTTERFLY TATTOO becomes a MOVIE!!! It's a read one doesn't forget – so poignant and beautiful.

    Hugs, Nancy

  17. I really really want to read this book..It sounds wonderful.

    (I will be emailing you with the answer from the excerpt)

    If I had just sold my book, I would be in shock for a few hours, then I would call every one I know and tell them..Then have a get together with my family and celebrate our good fortune. I would pince myself black and blue until the book was actually availabe.

    Congratulations to all authors who have are published! To all those waiting – don't give up! I am truly in awe of you guys – it amazes me the talent that you share when you write these wonderful books. Thank you

  18. Wow! What great comments. I'm going to swing back by in a few hours and reply personally. But thank you, thank you. The response to this book has blown me away. So much more than I ever even dreamed about.

    Btw, we have a big contest going on with a giveaway for a Butterfly watch. So if you love the book, I encourage you to grab the widget and put it on your site or FB page. I'll have to come back with that link! :) Deidre

  19. Hey, great contest! I already sent you an e-mail, but here's a comment, too. When I sold my book to Samhain (out in May), I drove to my sister's house and we celebrated with champagne, a dinner out, and watching Sherlock Holmes at the theater. It was awesome!

  20. If I sold the book of my dreams I would throw a big party for all of my friends—after I had picked myself up off of the floor and did a Snoopy dance.

  21. I've emailed you for the print book, so please don't enter me for the e-book.

    I just wanted to say I've read about this book on several blogs and it sounds fantastic. I kept seeing the author's name, and I subscribe to the Knight Agency blog, and I've just realized it's the same person. How slow am I?

    Deidre, I'm a southern California girl who's transplanted herself to London. Reading about your surfing lessons and Studio City (where I used to work) has really brightened my rainy day.

  22. Loved the excerpt. I really enjoyed this exchange, it was sweet and funny and poignant.

    If I sold the book of my dreams I would take a leap of faith to celebrate and do something I've always dreamed about but was too afraid to do, like hang glide or parachute out of a plane.

  23. I sent an email for the print book.

    I have loved all of Deidre's books, especially her parallel series.

  24. Emailed! :)

    I've been wanting to get my hands on Butterfly Tattoo ever since I read the excerpt a while back; it seems like a book that'll break my heart and mend it back together again.

    If I just sold the book of my dreams, I'd start calling everybody I know to squeal…and then plan a huge get-together to celebrate. :D

  25. No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book.

  26. Hi Diedre and Leah :)
    Great interview!
    Where did you get the heroine's name?
    I think Jeffry Morgan would be a great Michael but maybe Natalie Portman as Rebecca.
    If I sold my first book I think I'd probably hire a limo & driver, grab some friends & proceede to have a girls day/ night out including much squeeing & drinking.

  27. Hey, great interview. I just sent an email with my answer for the paperback copy.
    *crosses fingers*

  28. If I sold the book of my dreams first I'd pass out since I've never wrote anything lol. and then I dance my big butt around the house and wouldn't give a fig what my guys said and how much they laughed. Ilove to win this in ebook.

  29. Hi Leah
    I've heard so many amazing things about this book. Loved the interview especially sending the wrong version to the publisher. Some things are meant to be.
    Sending an email.

  30. Great interview you 2.
    Man I want this book, and the excerpt just made the want worse…I've heard so many great reviews & recommendations..
    So I'm trying for either. Email will be on it's way shortly.
    As for what I would do .. same as with my other mile stones.. get a tattoo.
    My first was a small butterfly, so it would have to be serveral to equal out the area covered by the subsequent ones .. :)
    ioki_jo at hotmail dot com

  31. Great interview and Butterfly Tattoo sounds like an awesome read!

    I've just sent an e-mail with my answer.

    If I sold the book of my dreams I would celebrate with a family dinner!

    Thanks for the awesome contest!

  32. Great interview. I've heard Angie talk about this book several times now, and can't wait to read it.
    If I sold the book of my dream, I'd throw a humongous party (once they picked me off of the floor). :)

  33. I've sent you an e-mail. :)

    This book looks fabulous. I'd love to get my hands on a review copy.

  34. I just sent you my e-mail. i hope i got it right, since I am so want to have this book !

    uniquas at ymail dot com

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