Gail D. Villanueva: My Fate According to the Butterfly
It's July! When you're hot and don't feel like doing anything, grab a book instead! There are a lot of really great new ones out!
My Fate According to the Butterfly
by Gail D. Villanueva
When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she's doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her -- on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn't even know why.
If Sab's going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she'll have to overcome her fears -- of her sister's anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom -- and figure out the cause of their rift.
So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family's past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won't speak to their father. But Sab's adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult -- and dangerous -- than she ever anticipated.
Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!
July 30th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
Hi! I’m Gail D. Villanueva, a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. My middle grade debut, My Fate According to the Butterfly, is forthcoming from Scholastic Press on July 30, 2019. I’m also a web designer and a graphic artist. I live in the outskirts of Metro Manila with my ducks, dogs, turtles, cats, and a lonesome but friendly chicken.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
The most surprising part of my debut journey is (and will probably always be) learning that there are people outside my family who like my book. Not just friends, mind you, but folks I actually don’t know. Every time they say nice things about my book, I get surprised that it resonates with them, too. It’s as if you’re putting a part of yourself out there and strangers like you. I don’t think this feeling will ever get old!
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
REMY LAI!!! There, I shouted. Hehe. Seriously, folks, read her book. It’s full of heart and the art is so cute. I’m so thankful I got to know her through Novel19s—not only is Remy talented, but she’s also a great friend and an overall wonderful person.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me a whole month and a half to finish the first draft of My Fate According to the Butterfly. Probably two to three months to revise with my critique partners, and around two months with one of my mentors, Erin Entrada Kelly. Then when I signed with my agent, we revised the book again for another six months. It’s been quite a long, but very educational, journey.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Without giving away spoilers, the hardest scene for me to write was when my main character, Sab, finally came to the realization about her family. In order to write Sab’s feelings, I had to confront my own demons. Writing this book has truly been cathartic for me.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I’m a very detailed planner. I first begin by coming up with a cast of characters—getting to know them by listing down their personalities, talents, hobbies, family backgrounds, what makes them tick, etc. I then make an outline of how I envision the plot to be, which I break down into three acts. I write notes within each act while I do my research and world-build. Once I’m confident I have enough stuff, I write the synopsis. My synopses are usually fifteen pages or more, single-spaced. Once my agent and editor okay the story, I’ll write a chapter-by-chapter script—dialog and general scene descriptions. I turn the script into narrative form. On my next pass, I add world-building and interiority. Then, I edit and edit and edit until my editor and my publisher determine it’s ready. I do this for every book. Hehe.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Like I said, world-building begins as I formulate my plot. So, it’s not really researching before, but more about researching while writing a book. I feel Filipinos and the Philippines are still very much underrepresented in middle grade, so I always make it a point to set my stories here and make my protagonists brown and Filipino like me. I grew up not seeing myself in the books I read, and I wish to change that. I enjoy every minute of doing research. Because even though I’m a Filipino living in the Philippines, there is still so much to learn about my country and my culture.
If you could only buy one book this year, which book would it be?
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai! I’m totally biased because she’s my friend. But really, it’s the type of book that my non-reader husband will probably read (after he finishes reading my own book, that is! Haha) because of the integrated art (he likes illustrations). If I’m going to be allowed to buy just one book, I’ll pick one that I’m certain someone else will also enjoy. Like, I might as well make the most out of this absolutely cruel restriction (one book per year! Why you so mean, Sofiya?!?!?) set upon me.
What are two of your favorite covers of all time?
I have done cover design for a few clients myself, so “all time” wouldn’t be appropriate as my favorites evolve as my tastes and skills evolve. Covers are art meant to sell consumers a book, and designs rely on how a publisher would want to market the book. Design trends also change, depending on how the market responds. Basically, what I’m trying to say in this long, drawn-out, and boring cover design lecture is that my “two favorite covers of all time” would be my “two favorite covers at the moment, or at least until the design trend shifts.” With that in mind, I would say I absolutely adore the covers of Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound and Elsie Chapman’s debut middle grade, All the Ways Home.
Share a music playlist!
Here is a playlist I made for My Fate According to the Butterfly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxuY9FET9Y4&list=PLOG5b846ultzGnXeMgD09vgcK3buTIY_6
Share an aesthetic!
You can find the Pinterest novel aesthetic board for my book here: https://www.pinterest.com/gaildvillanueva/my-fate-according-to-the-butterfly/
Share a picture of your favorite animal!
My duck, Quackie (who is of course my favorite animal), has her own Tumblr blog! https://quackerthon.tumblr.com
Thanks, Gail! I'm so excited to read your book! Everyone, go check it out on 7/30/19!