Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Butterflies by Talhah Fadzillah

Dear Readers:

For my fans of "The Keystroke Killer" you're going to love this next book and author. You won't want to miss this one.

Talhah Fadzillah

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I was born, raised, and am still situated in Malaysia with no plans to ever move abroad (as of yet) because I simply love it here, even though I am not fluent in the Malay language, the reason being that I have only attended international schools (Fairview and then Sayfol), primarily spoke and wrote in English, and always struggled with the Malay language.

Due to my inability to conform to conventional methods of learning at schools, I was eventually homeschooled and have completed my O-levels, Diploma, and Degree in business studies.  
Growing up as the youngest among three brothers, I feel like I’ve always been kind of an outsider. And as such, I spent a lot of time observing people, wondering a lot about their state of mind despite their outward appearances. Are they truly happy when they smile? Sad when they’re as quiet as I am?
So, as a kid, I was somewhat reclusive and relished my time alone… barely had friends, dreaded parties, and gatherings. Somewhere along the line, I developed a fascination for strange, dark places like dead malls, abandoned houses, dingy stairwells… even boring parking lots. 

I have literally spent an hour or so sitting in a parking lot alone, doing absolutely nothing, for no reason. There’s something about the ambiance of such places that’s so enchanting to me. It got me thinking about the empty places in our mind, and this is partly what inspired me to write “Butterflies.”

What inspired you to author this book?

Aside from my fascination with strange places, the human psyche is a subject that I have a consistent interest in, and yet, I feel it is impossible to grasp fully. There were images and concepts on my mind that were yelling at me, compelling me to write them out. That’s when I conceptualized the story about the journey of an offbeat, introverted fellow who spends too much time in his own wonderful, broken head filled with butterflies, and about the adversity that will creep and crawl its way to him.

I feel that all of us face hardships, and we all deal with them differently; the important thing is to learn from them because it is when we are faced with adversity that we truly grow. For Nolan Reed, it is about developing a relationship with Elin Erynnis, a colleague with severe facial disfigurement, and discovering who she really is.

No matter how withdrawn and overwhelmed one may be, though, the ability to be in a state of a connection is a powerful phenomenon that can motivate the most broken of us. It is then about how much you can give and at what cost.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

There were so many elements that I wanted to capture in the cover art. To be honest, I probably lost too many brain cells overthinking it. Eventually, I figured that simplicity is best, and that I just needed to clear my head. That’s when I found it through this psychedelic, retro art-style. It symbolized so many aspects of the story, including the mysterious setting, Nolan’s eccentricity, and what could be his descent into utter madness.  

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

There are actually two figures that I look up to in terms of creative work. They often have an influence on many elements of the stories I write, and sometimes even have an influence on the way I behave.

Favorite film and book, Let The Right One In, (The Swedish film, not the Hollywood remake), written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. In his book, he managed to capture a quiet, sleepy, dreamlike atmosphere so well that he quickly became my favorite author.
Favorite videogame/gamebook: Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC), written by Dan Salvato. Don’t be fooled by what looks like an Anime dating simulator because Dan Salvato wove into this bittersweet story something so magnificently twisted—that’s all I will say about DDLC without giving away too much for those who might want to play/read it. Dan Salvato has helped me understand that creativity is not a straightforward path.

What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

There were actually two other stories that I was working on for years when I was a teenager until I was a young adult. Still, I was struggling with perfectionism and writer’s block and eventually lost interest in completing them at the time (I now have plans to pick them back up).
From then on, I made it a habit to have fun writing stories and not let perfectionism congest the process too much. As for the obstacles I faced while writing “Butterflies,” I was sometimes having too much fun, so I had to remind myself to get a grip and really look into where the story was heading without too much faffing about.
And aside from that, there were parts of the book that were pretty depressing for me to write, but I had to push through these to deliver the story I wanted to tell.

Tell your readers about your book.

Nolan Reed is a strange man, to say the least. There are these butterflies living inside him, and they continuously hustle and bustle in his tummy and head. And then there’s Elin Erynnis, a colleague with a severe facial disfigurement who Nolan has an unhealthy obsession for. When she enters Nolan’s erratic life, they get off to a good start, but then he endeavors to uncover her mysterious circumstances, unveiling a broken, twisted and tragic past.
What secrets are derived from a relationship between two lonely souls? Does this winding path lead only to unnerving madness? What happens when the thoughts in your head begin to seep into reality? Nolan delves deep into the rabbit hole to find out for himself.

Who is your target audience, and why?

Particularly for Butterflies: young adult readers of horror/psychological thrillers who can digest and enjoy the unconventional flow of the storytelling and style of narrative, who can pick up on the symbolism without getting lost in the madness.

What do you consider your greatest success in life?

The experiences I’ve had, whether good or bad, whether they’ve been overcome or overwhelmed me. I feel that they’ve all had a part in making me who I am and who I’m proud to be. 

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

As mentioned before, the narrative style of Butterflies is unconventional, and intentionally so, because I wanted to steer clear of clichés and explore a storytelling route less traveled.