Tuesday Chit-Chat with Yasmin Selena Butt

Today, we’re thrilled to welcome debut novelist, Yasmin Selena Butt, who’s popped into Romaniac HQ for a chat and a cuppa…

Author Pic : Keith Pitcher

Hi Yasmin, just how excited are you about ePublishing your debut novel Gunshot Glitter? Give us a taste of what it’s about and what inspired such a great title?

Hi Jan, I’m excited in the same way you’d feel on a white knuckle ride at the funfair, part of me wants to hold onto a hand for dear life, but is still really glad to be on there!  Gunshot Glitter is the story of an incinerated boy who never quite goes away. More broadly, it’s the tale of how the murder of one person has a massive, life-changing domino effect on the lives of everyone connected to him, but especially on the woman who kills him – in the most unexpected and surprising way of all. It’s a story that shows us that NOTHING is as black and white as it first seems. You’ll be questioning your morals by the end of it.  I borrowed the title from a great Jeff Buckley song that featured on Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk. It was a bonus track only released in Europe. I just loved the magic it evoked.

Cover : Celene Petrulak

Did you plot each chapter or did you give your characters free rein to do their own thing, or was it a bit of both?

I’m a huge believer in not tightly plotting chapters, for me it’s the ultimate kiss of death in disallowing original sparks and unexpected magic to occur in your story.  If I was a movie director I’d be the one allowing the cast to improvise the best lines on screen, like Ridley Scott with Rutger Hauer’s ‘tears in rain’ speech in Bladerunner. As long as I know the destination of where I am heading, I am fine. I trust my characters. There was an utterly lovely, tiny romantic sub-plot I didn’t see coming in Gunshot Glitter, it moved me, it allowed readers to see that out of darkness, something beautiful and unexpected can emerge.

Tell us the key things you’ve learned about ePublishing and could pass on to any writer wishing to tread the same path?

Okay, first thing if you’re publishing on Amazon – you want to sort out your tax with the USA, fast, else you’ll get taxed twice, but you don’t need an ITIN code for the paperwork, which is a time-consuming potentially expensive thing to procure, you want an EIN code and you can make a call over SKYPE to get it in ten minutes, there is a lot of old information floating around out there.  Make Google your friend.

Secondly, you need to think of it from the outset as an eBook and not a print book, forget all your formatting and page numbering, it doesn’t apply.  Worry about formatting at the very end. Copy and paste your WHOLE novel into Notepad and wipe all your formatting so you don’t end up with strange code that makes you want to weep, then paste it back in and then start formatting.

Third tip, find out the rules and requirements of your ePublishers upfront, for example if you are UK-based, you cannot at present, publish direct with Barnes and Noble, but you can through Smashwords. Kobo need ISBN numbers with all their eBooks but Amazon don’t. All these things will help with forward planning.

What’s the whackiest piece of research you’ve done for Gunshot Glitter?

Blimey, let me think, oh ringing up Virgin mobile customer service and asking what the outgoing message would be if I’d incinerated my SIM card and someone rang my phone? Then telling the man about how I was using it as a plot device. He laughed, but told me he was making a note of my conversation topic!

What sparked your desire to become a writer?

I have a very active imagination and if it didn’t have an outlet I’d probably implode. I have to write. I’d written a thousand poems by my late 20s.  And I’ve a huge love affair with words and the English language.  I wrote epic tales from primary school onwards and my teachers always told my parents I’d grow up to become a writer. I just love telling stories.

Any other creative passions?

I love painting, I am an enthusiastic amateur.  I couldn’t help but give a character called Celine Silver a love of painting eyes, because I do too. If you want bespoke beautiful eyes, then I’m your girl. I also know how to knock out a wicked heart and decorate a jar to make it look like a little surreal masterpiece. I won a wee competition with Liberty department store earlier this year and was utterly stoked, it meant a huge deal to me to have this side of me receive a little recognition.

Your love of perfume is well known – if you could choose just three of your favourite scents to greet you when you walked into a room, which would they be and why?

God, I love perfume. I once walked around House of Fraser clutching an issue of Psychologies, sampling all the featured scents : )  I love this question.

1. Fahrenheit  – the original version .  I’ve been known to follow a man down the street just to imbibe this stunning, but classic confection if he’s wearing it. It smells of how all men should smell if they’ve just completed a fresh, fiery workout. If I was queen, I’d make it law all men should smell like this.

2. Love by Gorilla Perfume – it’s gorgeous! It makes me think of evening summer sunshine sweetness and citrus, it makes me feel pretty when I wear it, so to walk into a room like that would put a smile on my face and make me feel all is good in the world

3. Eau d’iparie by L’Occitaine – it’s spicy, edgy and slightly dangerous and I am a variety freak so contrast is good, it’s a seductive, dark, head-turning scent and brings out the femininity and intensity of my personality so I can imagine if I walked into a room and I was greeted by that, I’d immediately feel like I’d stumbled into a Film Noir piece.

And we couldn’t resist some quickfire questions…

Three novels you’d magic out of thin air to re-read if you were marooned on a desert island for a week?

Thirtynothing by Lisa Jewell.  Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.  And Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – which I rewarded myself a copy of on Gunshot Glitter publication day as I felt I’d earned it.

Singer you’d most like to duet with?

Bono!  Then I’d ask him to introduce me to Larry Mullen Jnr afterwards and leave us to it.  Love U2! Or Cher, I’m convinced Cher is a figment of my imagination, she has the best, real name in pop: Cherilyn Sarkasian La Pier.

Favourite London landmark?

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, like a ghost in the dark that building is at night. Stunning. If you read Gunshot Glitter, you’ll see this beauty make a vivid appearance.

Pacino or De Niro?

Ooh, that’s tough, I love both, but I’ll go with Robert De Niro as he’s a bit less shouty than Al Pacino, even if he has made more questionable film choices lately, but I could forgive him anything after ‘Heat’ aka best movie of all time.

Celebrity you’d most like to share a 100 mile taxi ride with?

Russell Brand. I love that boy’s mind. We could do a lot of damage and have a lot of fun in 100 miles.

Dream holiday destination?

I always want to say the Maldives, I love that place. But would love to go to Zanzibar too.  Zan-zi-bar sounds exciting just saying it.

Cream Tea or Fish & Chips 😉

You are evil!!! Lol.  Both appeal to my epicurean soul.  I’m breaking your rules and running off with both. Oh God.  I’ll go with Cream Teas, no animals were harmed in the making of a Cream Tea, but God help my waistline.

Thank you for calling in, Yasmin. It’s been great chatting to you…

Thank you for having me Jan & The Romaniacs. That sounds like the name of a band by the way. Wonderful questions… Yasmin Selena Butt  xx

Gunshot Glitter is available worldwide on Amazon Kindlestore. Buy it or download a sample at Amazon UK : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gunshot-Glitter-ebook/dp/B00916B4OU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346112447&sr=8-1

Read Chapter 1 of Gunshot Glitter here: http://yasminselenabutt.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/gunshot-glitter-chapter-1-the-birthday-present/

Follow Yasmin Selena Butt on Twitter @yasminselena

Find out more about Yasmin at: http://yasminselenabutt.wordpress.com/

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

You’ve just finished your novel and all you have to do now is just go through it and just find those words that you just slip in all the time without even noticing.

We all have our comfort words or phrases that we can’t help using, but it’s wheedling them out and finding a suitable replacement that can be tricky at times. Even for novels that have been through the edits process and made it to publication can be guilty of repetition – think of a particularly current erotic trilogy where eye rolling and lip biting seem to happen all the time.

At Romaniac HQ we were discussing our comfort words/phrases and thought we would share them with you.

Would love to know what yours are 🙂

Laura:

It’s amazing how these words creep unnoticed into the manuscript. I was aware of previous criminal over use of ‘back’, ‘here’ and ‘although’, and managed to limit them in Follow Me, however, I’ve developed a habit for ‘could’, ‘only’, ‘besides’, ‘thought’ and ‘look’.

My characters have glanced, glowered, gazed, scowled and stared, but mostly they looked. There was a ‘look’ on every page. Sometimes two. My worst example: Four. Yes. Four looks on one page. That’s asking for eye-strain. I spent two days finding alternatives for my word crimes, but sometimes a look is just that. A look.

Sue:

I’m a devil for using the word ‘just’, I can’t believe how many times I threw it in there! Most of the time it wasn’t needed. Another one of my crimes, not so much a word but a description. My poor hero spent an inordinate amount of time winking and looking amused. I swear, in my current WIP my heroine is never going to notice the amused look on the hero’s face again. Nor are his eyes going to smile, alone or otherwise and as for my heroine experiencing another frisson, well, it just isn’t going to happen. Ever.

Oh no, I’ve done it here – put the word ‘just’ in – old habits die hard 😦

Vanessa:

I’m a looker too… Well, not me but my characters – looking, glancing and gazing at each other all day long, I’m amazed they manage to do anything else. And like Sue, I have favourite, over-used mannerisms for my characters – one character in my latest chews her lip so much I don’t see how she can have any lips left. The previous book had a nail biter who must have ended up with bloody stumps at the end of her wrists she chewed so much in the first draft…

But my worst crime – and I’d like to point out that this was a long time ago and I’m VERY careful to avoid this now – is the eyes with lives of their own. In a very early draft of a very early MS, now hidden away in a drawer, I have characters that roll their eyes at other characters, clumsy characters who drop their eyes all over the place and one particularly gruesome scene where someone caressed someone else – WITH HIS EYES. Imagine the mess, the pain…

Catherine:

STILL she JUST doesn’t know what to do about THAT NOW – I thought I’d throw my overused words into a sentence. I’m also bad at throwing in unneeded directional words like BACK, UP, DOWN. I’m also a terror for clustering together repeat words (spot the mistake) in a paragraph. I look (that one’s for you girls) at individual lines and sometimes neglect to notice that I have three uses of DOOR in a few lines.

Jan:

THOUGHT, PONDERED, WONDERED, MUSED – honestly, some of my characters could have circumnavigated the globe they’ve spent THAT much time WONDERING. Or was it WANDERING? As for repetition, well, they’ve ducked, dived, gulped, frowned and  giggled their way through many a scene. And as for the word JUST, well, let’s JUST say, like Sue, I’m JUST a complete sucker for it… 

Celia: My big problem is with ‘that’. The times that I use that are way too many, I know that I shouldn’t, but it’s the word that I like best of all and that’s a fact. I think I’m getting over that hurdle now though, there are lots of other words that I could use instead, and I know that it’s just a matter of time before all those thats are a thing of the past. Was that ok, chaps?

Oh, and my other one is ‘as’. As in ‘As he walked into the room’, or ‘She bit her lip as he tied her to the bed post.’ But that’s another book.

And finally – not a word really but I get semi-colon frenzy. I’ve had to cull most of them recently but the sign in  the picture needs one desperately. ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;