It’s almost Summer – have you planted your Butterfly Garden yet?

It’s a New Book Release and Giveaway for one of our very own Mixed Up Files Authors . . .

Kimberley Griffiths Little!

When the Butterflies Came (Scholastic, 2013)

***A magical mystery!***

MUF: Why did you decide to make this story for middle grade readers?

I adore MG literature because the stories and emotions are so heartfelt and speak to the pivotal changes that go on in a kid’s life when they’re between 10-12. Reading was my *real* world when I was a kid . . . I read a book a day. Or better yet *devoured* a book a day. I was EXTREMELY shy as a child and my parents worried about me because I didn’t talk much to other people. Books were my lifesaver and best friends. We still have quite a close relationship and send greeting cards and yearly letters to each other – well mostly me to them – every chance we get.

The nice thing about middle Grade is that even though its meant for children, adults can read them too, but those are the adults that still view the world as magical and wondrous–and it’s nice that there are so many of them! I try to oblige that love (for everyone of all ages). 🙂

MUF: What was your favorite part of the book writing process?

I love when I’m thinking of a new book idea and my mind is working subconsciously – and suddenly ideas start spilling into my brain and I can’t write them down fast enough. That’s why I love first drafts more than revision. It’s all so exciting as the ideas pour out and they get down on paper. But you have to trust the process. Some days you’re pulling your hair out wondering how it’s all going to fit together, and then suddenly the Idea Goddess waves her sparkly wand and blesses you.

Researching all the gorgeous butterflies from around the world was fascinating as well as discovering the Island of Chuuk and talking to people who had lived there. Micronesia and Chuuk, especially, has a fascinating history!

butterfly2MUF: Can you share an excerpt from the book that gives us a flavor of your character’s voice?

“The butterfly’s tiny black eyes fix on mine. We stare at each other, and it’s almost as if that butterfly is looking at me and knows who I am. Like it’s got a brain and is thinking.

That’s when I hear music again. Not Riley’s rock music rattling my brain, making me want to crunch my teeth. This is angel music, delicate, unearthly, filling me up until my heart feels like it’s gonna burst. This butterfly ain’t no regular butterfly!”


MUF: How did you come up with your characters voice? It started when my mind kept turning to one of the minor character from my previous book Circle of Secrets. I found myself wanting to know more about Tara Doucet. She’s a 7th generation *Pantene Princess* of the Doucet family who lives in an old plantation house in the South. I mean, who doesn’t want to be Scarlett O’Hara! *Voice*, for me, comes after many hours of daydreaming about my character and mentally and visually putting myself in her shoes. I thought about Tara’s personal foibles, mannerisms, expressions, relationships, motivations, problems, friends and family.

A very curious picture began to emerge—not one I’d originally assumed. The most popular girl at school with silky waterfall hair was actually living in a crumbling mansion house (the trust fund is gone and they’re trying to “keep up appearances”) with a bratty older sister who wears combat boots—and she’s got a touch of OCD. The rug fringe in the front hall must be perfectly laid!

The person Tara is closest to, her Grammy Claire, is a research scientist studying some unusual butterflies in Micronesia. She’s even got a laboratory in a tree house. I also *love* the name for butterfly on the island of Chuuk: nipwisipwis – and with that word ideas for the story began to burst forth. Tara receives a set of mysterious letters and keys—from beyond the grave—which leads her on a dangerous journey as she discovers more and more about the butterflies. There are bad guys, too! Tara finds out she’s smarter and tougher than she ever thought, and, of course, the relationships of the characters is always a big component in my books as well as the magical realism.

The perfect beach at the Blue Lagoon on the island of Chuuk also know as Truk Lagoon in Micronrsia South PacificMUF: Why did you choose the setting of your story?

I love islands and beaches and miss the ocean where I grew up near San Francisco living in the desert and mountains of New Mexico. Of course, The Doucet Mansion is set in the bayous/swamps of Louisiana in the small town of Bayou Bridge, but Grammy Claire’s research is on a remote island and her laboratory is in a tree house! Both settings are unusual and mysteriously beautiful. I was also looking for an excuse to justify a research trip out there since the waters are so pretty and the spa treatments so relaxing. 🙂 (Kidding!)

Chuuk 11MUF: What can you tell us about your research process? What was your most unusual source?

Finding information about the Island of Chuuk was tricky, (especially since its on the other side of the world!) I scoured and read everything on the internet. Then I found some blogs by people who’d lived there – and got to talk to them by phone, which was extremely helpful. Then I went on Youtube and found some marvelous videos filmed on Chuuk as well as lots of articles about the island. I even spent hours poring over the Chuukese/English dictionary.

MUF: Who is your cover artist? Illustrator? Is the character in the illustration as you imagined him?

I’ve been blessed by the Cover Goddesses, too. Erin McGuire did the artwork for Circle of Secrets and Scholastic was so pleased they asked Erin to create the artwork for When the Butterflies Came, too. The two books have a completely different look, but the colors pop off the shelf and they’re gorgeous. Erin blogged about her process of creating my cover here. (You may be surprised at the other book jackets she’s done!):

MUF: Do butterflies ever follow you?

Only on sunny, happy days. (Or the days I use rose scented perfume. It attracts them like moths to the flame! I usually feel like I’m being stalked by the Butterfly Paparazzi. I know I occasionally stalk them with a camera hoping for a perfect shot.) Or maybe butterflies *create* sunny, happy days! Butterflies are magical because they go through this incredible metamorphosis, changing from a green, icky caterpillar into a peculiar chrysalis and then burst out of their cocoon into a gorgeous colorful butterfly. Sort of like reincarnation or resurrection!

Purple spotted swallowtail

MUF: Was there a teacher or librarian in your childhood who inspired or empowered you to be a writer?

My 8th grade teacher raised his eyebrows when I turned in a *novel* instead of a term paper, but he was very empowering when he had me reading the Classics and writing projects the other students weren’t. He encouraged me to keep writing and gave me a sense that I had a spark of talent. I think it may have been more desire than talent because it took a REALLY LONG TIME to get published, but I still think about him and his encouragement.

MUF: What is your favorite…place to write? Work day snack? 

My brother and his family came down and invaded my already stuffed house a couple Christmases ago and built me a writing cottage on the back of our one-acre property so I could get away from the crazy and just write. It was exactly what I needed but needless to say *the crazy* has a tendency of following me out there on little children’s feet. Writing breaks usually include a Large Dr. Pepper w/Ice and a salad from a local pizza place or if I’m feeling in need of a particularly large amount of “Inspiration”, then a large batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies followed by a short sugar coma on my daybed.

And now for a Spectacular Giveaway!

A signed hardcover of WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME

*PLUS* pretty bookmarks

*PLUS* a butterfly/key necklace!

MUF Giveaway picture

Just leave a comment and you’re entered! If you share on your blog/Facebook/Twitter, etc. please let us know and your get your name added an extra time for more chances to win!

***Winner announced on Thursday, June 6th! The book trailer for WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME will air that day as well so come back for all the fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kimberley Griffiths Little just turned in the manuscript for her next magical realism novel for Summer 2014 – which includes time-slipping and a cursed doll. You can find her hanging out a lot on Facebook. (Check our her recent FB photo album of Petra, Jordan – yep, another book research trip!) Enjoy Teacher’s Guides and Mother/Daughter Book Club Guides and “filmed on location” book trailers at her website.



Kimberley Little
  1. I wanted to write a reply to everyone, but for some reason the site isn’t allowing me to individually respond. So instead I will just do a group hug!

    THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for the lovely kudos and congratulations and comments – and all the cover love! I appreciate every single one very much.

    Michelle, I agree that reading is probably the best thing we can hand down to our children (not discounting integrity in all aspects of our lives, of course!)

    Beth, how wonderful that you have a butterfly garden! Find me on Facebook and let me see a picture! My flowers are starting to bloom and I seeded some more last night. Saw my first butterfly in my yard last week – and lots of hummingbirds, too. 🙂

    Cathy, I *loved* hearing that your daughter wanted to spell entomologist when she was only seven – how cool is that!

    Thanks again! Now off to find our winner . . .


  2. Great interview. This book is on my book wish list. Such a pretty cover. Awesome giveaway!

  3. Cheers for the wonderful interview!

  4. I can’t wai toy read this book with my daughter! Reading was also my “real” world as a kid and the love of reading is one of the best things I can hand down to my daughters!

  5. I love the idea of taking an intriguing minor character and looking deeper to see what they could become!

  6. Sounds wonderful for a summer read!