“Lost In thought while holding a crystal figurine, she looked out the window. Memories washed over her in waves like ones she rode at the beach as a child. But now was the time to make new dreams, time to begin anew, because someone once told her when dreams do not come true you make new ones….”
|The Peacock Butterfly
by J.V. Lamotte
Those lines were enough for me not only to get the book, but also to make new dreams for myself… I was also curious… What were her dreams? Why Couldn’t she make them come true? What is it about her that I didn’t know….. I thought I knew her… Wise, calm, generous with everything, but especially with her advice… and she loves food and wine and fashion. She loves nature, she likes to walk, she also likes silence sometimes, I think.. She loves to read, and she’s a writer.. But when I asked her, she replied: “It’s still hard for me to call myself a writer, but the process is amazing. I sit down, and I don’t know where the characters or the story are going. It just sort of comes, and I write it…”
This is Janice Lamotte-Lavalle, author of The Peacock Butterfly… I hope you enjoy our chat and learn from it as much as I did… And I thank you Janice!
Did you always know you were going to write a book?
No. My entire life I have written poetry, short stories, or made up stories for my children when they were little.. I kept journals when I was travelling.. So I always had a penchant for writing my thoughts down. In the eighties, I wrote a children’s book. I really wanted to write something. Then, I had a personal tragedy that happened to me in the early nineties, and I had to live with my parents. At that time, my sister got me a word processor from the university where they were upgrading their computers. I had it in the basement. At night after work, I would go down there and write. Actually I wrote a novel that was called “The Blind Trust”; it was a good story but it needed a lot of work. My son took it to a friend of his, whom I met in Boston in a cafe. He took the manuscript, and all I could see was a ‘sea of red”!
At that time, I had a lot on my plate. I took the manuscript back and mailed it to myself. and that was the end of it. Once in a while, I would give it a thought, but nothing really. It wasn’t until I was in Florida, and I had shingles.. Maybe pain brings on creativity. One night I was just writing this story. I will never forget it. It was very different from the first one. It took nine months of writing, and again, it needed a lot of work, but this time, I didn’t have the same attitude; I was determined to have this book published. It took three and a half years, but it made it!
When you started writing, did you know what the book was going to be about?
Events came to my mind about World War 2. I was born at that time, and I didn’t know a lot about it. I didn’t have any conception in my head what the book was going to be about. When I moved to Florida, I knew a woman for a long time, but I had lost touch with her.. I called her and she told me: Remember Janice long time ago, I asked you what would you do when you have a dream and your dream doesn’t come true?
My answer to her was “You make a new dream!” She told me how these words have sustained her throughout her life . I realized as I was writing my book, that for almost a decade and a half, I had forgotten about my own dream. I did not have a dream anymore.
My new dream was to be able to stand alone, to have a vision, to be able to turn my creative outlet into something that maybe would touch people in some ways.
“Make a new dream”, it ‘s universal. It crosses boundaries and nationalities. We are all on a journey. We are all different; we come from different places and different cultures.. But there is a similarity.. we all want something.. it could be a myriad of things: starting a business, being a singer, a nurse or a doctor.. It doesn’t matter what we want for ourself, but it’s having that dream and holding to hope.. Maybe it’s just peace.. It could be from the most frivolous things to the most earth shaking event.
It helps us to move forward. Life today is so complicated. The life we live today is so different and quick, with a lot of information.
You have many generations in your book too.. What do generations keep in common?
What we keep in common is wanting to hang on to the sense of family; trying to live our lives in the most moral way we can. Influences inside the families and outside influences create conflicts for us. In the book, there are 3 generations, and I just started a sequel… People were asking me, and I said no, no sequels, but this week, a thought came to me, and just started writing it. It will take place a couple of years after where the book ended, right up to the end of this decade.
Do you change the story sometimes?
Yes.. The most difficult part when the initial book was being edited, and I had to take things out.. That’s like having a child die. I wrote this out of my heart and my soul. and now I am having to take it out. It was very traumatic when I first had to do it, but I did it for the sake of the story.
Is it going to be a movie?
I didn’t start writing the book to be famous or to make money. I wrote it because I felt I had a story to tell; but now that it has gotten to this point, I would love nothing more than this book to become a movie. I think this book could reach so many people on so many levels because of the universality of the human being; I think every reader could identify with something that happens to a character in there.
Who’s your favourite character in the book? Who do you feel closer to?
hmmmm… I think Jack. It really bothered me that I had to kill him off. Something about Jack was so real… Jack wanted to make his marriage work. My favourite second character is Buddy. He’s the glue that holds families and friendships together. In life, I suppose I could relate more to Nena, because she went into similar things I went through. I understood her character well.
What is it that you don’t like in Nina?
That she didn’t question more when she should have. She wanted the dream of that marriage so much, that she overlooked the warning signs in her marriage, she didn’t listen to her inner voice, and I hope readers will pay attention to that.
What’s the wisdom that you share with Nena?
Listen to you inner voice. I had written a reflection originally, and I equated what happened to this woman. She fell down into that hole, that she would never know she will end up in. It’s all because she didn’t listen to her inner voice. I think we all end up in trouble if we don’t listen to our inner voice. She ignored some tiny signs, there were little signs everywhere.. This is how it is in life.
But maybe in life, sometimes we don’t recognize the signs until later, and only then we understand them??… So how can we realize these are the signs? Can we really?
I think we can. I think we don’t because we don’t stop and ask ourselves questions. I think we can if we are taught to do so, in the rearing process, especially with daughters, but valid with sons too of course. I taught my children, a son and a daughter, to read signs. Stop and ask yourself questions. If you don’t feel comfortable about something in your life, maybe this is when you should have a new dream. We are human beings, we want what we want. If someone else comes into our life and asks us why are we doing that, we become all defensive. Change is hard, difficult, and painful, but also beautiful.
Bt change can take us down to a different world. We need to look at change as a gift rather than an obstacle.
You’re talking about change, and signs, and it’s as if you were talking about my life?!
That’s the point, Hayat. Your life is my life, my life is your mother’s life, your life is my daughter’s life… That’s the connector that we all have. Your issues, your friends, your cousins,.. It’s not that different. That was to me became so obvious: As different that we are, the twists and turns and all the different issues, there is such a communality to us all. Life is a struggle. In the struggle it’s up to us to find the beauty.
The book is about hope, positive thoughts, and other chances…
I lost that.. In my life, I had to survive. I had lost everything in the process of surviving, until I got that call from my friend, and she reminded me that I had lost my dream.. Shortly after, the book came to me, and I realized the book was my dream.
Why did you choose the name to be The Peacock Butterfly?
Originally, the book was going to be Nena, but then I realized the book has so much more in it.
I was writing down names and thoughts about the book or the title. What came to me was “Perception and Expectations”; but that was going to feel as a copy for “Pride and Prejudice”.. I felt I had to be more creative. I had all these titles..
So my daughter went on her computer, and she looked at perceptions. Then she said: “Look at that butterfly, The Peacock Butterfly”, and underneath it, it talked about perception. I googled the peacock butterfly, and the minute I saw the picture, before I even read about Greek mythology behind it, I just looked at it and I knew that was going to be the title for my book. I could have went on and googled perception, I would have not found anything. Those are the things about life that I find so amazing. Things that amaze me all the time.
When you were doing your research for the book, what surprised you the most about the war?
World War 2? I think it was the impact it had on personal lives, because I had uncles who were in the war, but they all came back. I didn’t have any relative that died. The impact of one death on a family. who knows what would have happened if Jack would have lived?…. That incident of him dying.. Jack died, but he never left the story… Jack could have narrated the story.. That was probably the most overwhelming thing in the book.
In your book, you write a little bit about war, and describe feelings. Although you didn’t live it. So how do you know about that?
These characters kind of possessed me. I just sat quietly and thought about it. How do these women feel? How does it feel like going to war and not knowing if you will be back tomorrow? In my personal experience, it wasn’t war, but I had to survive. I was taught as a child, you pick yourself up and get back into the race. This is what should be done when we’re faced with overwhelming situations. Women all over the world, they are much stronger than what we think. How do women make something normal out of a situation that’s not normal? Women are very capable to carry on…
You’re so romantic in the book..
Well, I am a romantic soul. I grew up with MGM musicals in which people didn’t get naked and jumped into bed. I love romance in its highest and truest form. Nothing is wonderful in life more than romance.
Were your characters living a romance that you were missing in your life? Did you live the romance you wished to live through your characters?
It’s like don’t I wish! It’s my fantasy..
What about New York?
I have a love affair with New York City, even before seeing it.. Every time I go, it’s a new experience. I am not jaded about anything I do in life. But for me, New York is just marvelous.
What do you want the reader to feel or think when he reads the lasts words in your book?
I want the reader to put the book down and think about their own life. Make an assessment about their life, and ask themselves: Is it time to make a new dream? Is my life OK? If life is good, then I hope you enjoyed the book and that you were able to relate to it on some level.. but if the answer is no, I really want to make a new dream. I want them to have the courage, because it takes a lot of courage; I want them to make little steps at a time, to make a new dream, and work on that dream. I want the reader to feel hope.
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