Friday, August 16, 2013

"The Butterfly Sister"

Amy Gail Hansen earned a BA in English from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and then went on to teach middle school, high school and community college English before finding her niche as a freelance writer and Arts & Entertainment journalist.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Butterfly Sister, her debut novel, and reported the following:
When I was rewriting and revising The Butterfly Sister, I spent a lot of time on pacing, trying to balance the active plot twists with softer, contemplative moments for the main character, Ruby Rousseau, who tries to solve the mystery of what happened to a missing girl. These quiet moments allow the plot twists that follow to pack a bigger punch. Although they provide a much-needed respite for the mystery reader, I did not want them to be void of conflict or tension.

On page 69 of The Butterfly Sister, Ruby is having one of those contemplative moments in New Orleans, the city she deserted after her father died and to which she returned for a rendezvous with her professor, Mark Suter. It is the night after the two have made love for the first time, and Ruby has woken early for a walk in the foggy courtyard of the hotel, where she processes her feelings of guilt:
Sunlight slowly penetrated the veil of fog and continued to lift it as I walked through the courtyard that morning. After only a few minutes, the humidity cooled my coffee and it became chalky, but it was a nostalgic taste, actually, like chicken soup. It reminded me of the many Saturday mornings I’d sat with my mom at the kitchen table talking about everything and nothing. I longed to call her, to burden her instead of Mark, but she had no idea I was in New Orleans with him, with my professor, a married man. She would certainly disapprove of my relationship with him, but somehow that seemed a secondary issue to a more unpardonable sin: I went back to New Orleans without her.
Ruby’s guilt in this scene snowballs a few pages later at the chapter’s end, when she sees the first of many hallucinations that make her question her sanity and set her on a path of self-destruction. Page 69 is indicative of the emotional roller coaster ride I tried to take readers on in The Butterfly Sister.

It is the calm before the storm.
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Gail Hansen's website.

Writers Read: Amy Gail Hansen.

--Marshal Zeringue