I have to admit that I was ecstatic when I was able to get my hands on an ARC of BUTTER and interview Erin Jade Lange. I had hard so many good things about the book, and the book did not disappoint.
A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn't go through with his plans?
First, a pretty standard question....what gave you the idea to write this book?
My stories tend to start with characters and grow from there. The character of Butter just popped into my head, fully formed, one day. I can’t pinpoint exactly where he came from, but as a TV news producer, I am constantly covering stories of childhood obesity, internet bullying and teen suicide. I think those stories just piled up in the back of my mind until I had to release them, and out came this character.
What is your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you just sit down and let the story tell itself?
I am a plotter, for the most part. I need a general outline, or else I’ll wander several thousand words off course. That said, my outlines tend to look like this:
Chapter 3 – Jack goes to bookstore/library (decide later), sees Jill, hides behind shelf and peeks at her through gaps in the stacks. Jill says something? School project? – Jack: “sorry, didn’t mean to stare.” Jill: hmph. (insert dialog from voice recorder here) - Somehow get them outside library to witness the car accident. (move all this to chap.5?)
It’s messy, but it works for me.
What is your "must haves" while writing? Is there a certain food? Drink? Music?
Time! By that I mean I need long stretches of time to write. I can’t write in short bursts whenever there’s a free moment. I need to schedule it and write for hours to get into the groove.
What traits (if any) of Butter's do you see in yourself?
We both have a pretty self-deprecating sense of humor. Also, I went through a period in my life when I wanted to be friends with the “cool kids” at any cost – even when they were cruel. Like Butter, I felt the best way to keep from being the victim was to make them like me. And like Butter, I didn’t really stop to ask myself if I liked them. So we have that in common.
Music is important to this book. Can you think of any songs that would make up the soundtrack to this book or inspired you while you wrote?
I definitely listened to a lot of Jazz while writing this, since it plays such a big role in the book – particularly Bop, which is chaotic and unpredictable, much like Butter’s situation. But I also listened to some alternative/punk music. I would say, from those genres, the two songs that always make me think of BUTTER are “A Night in Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.
Butter's friends encourage him to start a bucket list. What top three items would be on your own bucket list?
Mine would all involve traveling! 1) Go on safari in Africa, 2) See the pyramids, 3) Visit New Zealand
-- though, oddly enough, I picked none of those places for my honeymoon next year. :p
Butter plans to eat himself to death and thinks a lot about what items would be a part of his last meal. What would your last meal involve?
Hot & sour soup, my mom’s spaghetti, a whole mess of appetizers, a Whitey’s malt and my grandma’s black forest cake.
What are some of your favorite YA authors/books?
I love dystopian novels, and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games tops that list for me. In contemp YA, I love anything by Courtney Summers. I’m also becoming a huge fan of Patrick Ness. This list could get really long. ;)
How do you plan to celebrate your release day?
I’ll take the day off work to cruise around town looking for BUTTER on shelves then hopefully have a launch party that night or the following weekend at my favorite local indie, Changing Hands.
And since you're being interviewed by The Lucky 13s, I have to ask...what's your favorite superstition?
I’m not very superstitious, but it does give me the creeps when black cats cross my path – which happens to me ALL THE TIME, by the way. Also, I have my own personal superstition that it’s bad luck when a street light goes out just as you pass under it – something else that happens to me all the time.
Where can we find you on the Internet?
Where can we buy your book?
*This interview was conducted by Lucky 13 member Rachele Alpine, as part of an ongoing series of interviews with the Apocalypsies—YA, MG, and children’s book authors with 2012 debuts.