Welcome again to CentreStage!
This week is absolutely jam-packed with excitement, so I’m bringing you two instalments. CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world presenting stories about themselves, their writing, their books or anything that takes their fancy. Today, it is my enormous pleasure to introduce you to the one-and-only Yasmin Selena Butt, and her best friend and heroine, Cornelia Friend. Yasmin and I connected over at The Romaniacs and we have been best blogging friends ever since. She is full of wit and sparkle, and I think you’ll greatly enjoy meeting her and Cornelia today.
It turns out that Cornelia has a very strong mind of her own, and she turned the tables on Yasmin when it came to an interview. I like that in a character, and I can’t wait to read her in full… So for now, I give you:
Gunshot Glitter: A woman with a Band-Aid on her damaged soul
Writer, Yasmin Selena Butt, asked if she could interview me. I pointed out that I’d spent the last eight years moving around, changing my name to keep myself safe, and inventing personas so I could slip through the net. An interview probably wasn’t such a good idea.
So I told Yasmin that I’d like to interview her instead.
I told her I’d like to know what she was thinking when she gave me this life, before setting the cat amongst the pigeons to see what I would do. I’ve been inside her head for years and I’ve watched her live, write, dream, fret about the day she lets me loose on the world and the world loose on me. Gunshot Glitter isn’t just my story, it’s also the story of an incinerated boy who never quite goes away, the aftershock he leaves in his wake: A family confused and in pain. Lies. Old flames. Betrayal. Death. Life. Love. Sex. Good music. A jackal and a doe. Angels in unlikely places and guises. And your feelings dear reader as you watch it all unfurl.
All I ask is you keep an open mind, and that you don’t judge me until you know me. Today, you can call me Cornelia Friend. But you and I both know it’s not my real name.
CF: Hi Yasmin, I know this wasn’t the plan, are you nervous?
Yasmin: About what? Talking about you? Having people judge you once they’ve read Gunshot Glitter? A little bit, I feel very protective of you, even though I know you can look after yourself. It’s really easy to paint victims and criminals in black and white terms, but I never saw you that way and I’ve never found that very interesting. Real people are way more complicated! I wanted to write a story which made the reader question their own sense of right and wrong, test their moral barometer and muddy the lines. Dreaming you up helped me do that.
CF: How would you describe me, could you sum me up in a sentence?
YB: That would be hard, but I’d describe you as – a beautiful, educated, dangerous woman with a band-aid on her damaged soul; someone who took a wrong turn and never found her way home.
CF: You gave me this vivid life and bestowed me with secrets, love, rage, guilt as well as a gift for playing the cello, a soft spot for cats and a fear of heights. Why did you do that?
YB: Everyone who reads Gunshot Glitter and your story is going to have to decide what they make of you themselves, but I know fundamentally, we are a sum of parts, whatever we’ve done. However well or badly we’ve acted, we’re all human underneath it all, we all go shopping, listen to music, have fears, enjoy strengths. I wanted people to see you as a person as well as witness your actions. Once you identify with someone, it gets interesting gauging how you feel, the more you find out about them, despite your moral judgement of them.
CF: You’re talking about what happened at Gunshot Glitter. Tell me about the club, why did you call it that?
YB: The club, Gunshot Glitter, was named after a Jeff Buckley song I really loved from an album called Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk. The song was released as a bonus track on the European edition of the album. I loved it, it’s raw and lo-fi.
The image evoked by a gunshot of glitter literally sparkled in my imagination and I had this vision of a glamorous venue in Soho with lap dancers and burlesque performers, where the patrons could buy guns filled with ampoules of glitter and they could choose their dancer by firing at them. So your story starts there the night you meet a Yorkshire boy called Liam Griffin on his 21st birthday.
CF: Liam and I, we share the same star sign. We’re Scorpios. You like astrology don’t you?
YB: I do, it was a good way of defining the characters in Gunshot Glitter, it helped me visualise them and their personalities. You all had to become very real to me before I could do you justice. Anis is Pisces, he’s an emotional soul who wishes he could conceal his feelings more because they often give him away. Sera Logan is a hot-headed, impetuous Aries who enjoys being centre of attention. Luke Becklow is a steady, enduring Capricorn, loyal and far more attractive than he realises. I loved you all. When you and Liam meet you change each other’s lives forever.
CF: How did you see me? Who did you base me on?
YB: You, my love, where inspired by a mixture of souls – including a strawberry blonde, freckled boy I once fiercely loved, who was a black belt in judo, who once told me that if he hadn’t gone to university he’d have become a criminal like the kids he ran with. And also an elegant redhead called Miranda, who I met when I was 20, who gave me a dodgy perm, but was amazingly beautiful with a stunning rack. I found her positively hypnotic to look at. I loved the idea of making you complicated, extraordinary, but also utterly normal all at the same time.
CF: Tell me how you dreamed up Gunshot Glitter, how did I come into being?
YB: Many years ago, I copy-typed a tagline I found on a soya drink carton onto my computer and stared at it long and hard…
CF: What did it say?
YB: It said, you can try me for free…’ And I thought where in life would you ever hear someone say that?! And I immediately thought of a woman with a glistening seductive mouth whispering in a boy’s ear and my fingers took over and I started typing. You were born as a bewitching character and I watched you act out this scene like a movie in my head. You ended the story laughing softly at the moon.
CF It was a short story to begin with wasn’t it?
YB: It was. I called it The Birthday Present. And it was possibly the most perfect short story I’d ever written. I almost wrote it in a trance. It was so fluid and effortless, it was the first decent short story I’d written in years. I showed it to friends and everyone who read it, asked me what happened next. That had never happened before. But the person whose opinion really affected me was a man called Jeremy Smith.
CF: Who was he? You dedicated Gunshot Glitter to him didn’t you?
YB: I did, he was a man I became friends with in 2004 when I was having a rough time. We kind of saved each other. He was a writer, book editor and music obsessive. He was thrilled as I was as into music as he was. He’d really met his match with me. He got me into Cat Power and Ed Harcourt. And I got him into Low. I’d never met an industry professional before, so was in awe of him. The fact he told me I was a good writer meant so much to me. Sadly, Jez died in 2010. It was a huge shock to me, he was only 35. It makes me sad, he never got to read Gunshot Glitter.
CF. I think he would have loved that you saw it through. That that short story became a novel on your own terms.
YB: Thank you, I really hope people read it with an open mind and just focus on the story. I believe in originality taking precedence over genre pigeonholes. Cover control was massively important to me, I found the artist, Celene Petrulak , on MySpace years ago and immediately knew I wanted her to work on the cover with me. She’s amazingly talented. And I believe that self-published novels should be equal in quality to traditionally published books. I worked with Jill Blair, a Scottish proof-reader and had it Beta read by several people. Plus Lisa Jewell, my favourite writer, read it and loved it and gave me a cover quote. That meant a great deal to me.
CF: So does Yasmin Selena Butt have any other stories up her sleeve?
YB: She does. I’m publishing an erotic novella called ‘Venus’ later this year, it’s extremely explicit, and an anthology of short stories called Ten Minute Tales, which should all take ten minutes tops to read. I love short fiction; it’s highly under-rated. I may publish the latter with BookBaby.
CF. Thank you for dreaming me up, good luck with the words, especially Venus.
YB. Cornelia Friend, it was my pleasure.
Your name is Celine Silver. But no one has called you that in eight years.
You’re a classically trained musician and an Honours graduate.
You come from a nice, middle-class family.
You kill people for money.
And no one knows you anymore.
Fate throws the man you abandoned right back into your path – the man who knew you before you got blood on your hands, before you changed your name.
And he’s demanding answers.
But is there a way back to the path of normal?
What price do you have to pay when you realise you no longer want to be monster?
And who are the real monsters and victims anyway?
‘Gunshot Glitter’ by Yasmin Selena Butt will be available on Amazon from Friday 24th August 2012. If you would like to buy a print copy please email: GunshotGlitter2012@yahoo.co.uk
WOW! What an interview, and what a GORGEOUS cover!! I can’t wait for tomorrow when Gunshot Glitter launches, I’ll be off to Amazon in a shot… Thanks so much for visiting today, Yasmin and Cornelia, it was fabulous to meet you both.
What do you think of these unusual, intriguing ladies and the book they’ve written between them?
STOP PRESS! Gunshot Glitter has just gone live on Amazon.co.uk. You can buy it… NOW!