Friday 11 April 2014

Breaking Butterflies Blog Tour: Why M. Anjelais Writes Dark Subject Matter

Hello guys! Sorry that I've been so absentee lately, but I promise I will be back soon, and in the meantime here's a really great post from M. Angelais, author of Breaking Butterflies. Please enjoy! :)


I’ve always been fascinated by the darker side of things. 

Ever since I can remember, it was the villains in my favourite stories and movies, not the heroes, who got my attention and admiration. Infamous historical figures intrigue me. Morbid subjects make me want to learn more. Even to this very day, I make my decision of whether I like a book based on how much the antagonist fascinates me. I can’t turn it off. It’s something that comes naturally to me.
And it’s also something that shows quite clearly in my writing. 

Every piece of writing I’ve ever done is dark in some way. Every single one. Breaking Butterflies is no exception. Themes of terminal illness, mental illness, psychological abuse, violence, and death are threaded throughout the entire story. The plot is hinged on these things, and at times, thanks to their inclusion, things end up looking quite hopeless for my characters.
There are many people in my life who would ask why I choose to write about such topics and wonder why I wouldn’t write about something nicer, safer, and more comfortable. They might ask why I would want to take readers into very dark and twisted places when there’s already so much darkness in today’s media, and in the world itself. At one point in my life, I might have simply answered by saying that I enjoy the darker side of things. But as I’ve grown older and defined what I’d like to do with my writing more clearly, I realize that I have more important reasons than that.

My first reason is that dark subject matter is real. People who struggle with dark things in their real lives need to see that reflected in fiction. I believe that there’s nothing more empowering than reading a book and finding one of your own struggles reflected therein. Personally, I used to cling to the struggles of antagonists instead of triumphant protagonists, but the effect was the same! Seeing portrayals of trials and difficulties and pain that I can relate to in fiction has always been something that gives me strength, and so I’ve always hoped that my writing could have that effect on other people. 

But I also have a more paradoxical reason for focusing on fictional darkness: I use dark subject matter because I want to show the light.
Put a candle in a room that already has a bunch of lights on, and the little flame will barely be noticeable. Put the same candle in a pitch-black room, however, and that tiny light becomes tremendous. When I set out to write, it is always my goal to apply the same principal. When I take the good in my stories, whether that be good coming from a kind-hearted main character or a happy event, and surround it with hardship and darkness, it shines brighter. The impact is greater. The value increases.
Darkness in my writing is merely a blackened picture frame that encircles the light, displaying it to greater advantage. And despite the fact that I can hear a fair few peoples’ voices in my head telling me that they wish I’d write about nicer things, I’ll never stop using that to my advantage as an author.

Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais, out now, £7.99, published by Chicken House
Follow M. Anjelais on twitter @ANJELAIS and find out more at

The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he's hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost--written when the author was just eighteen. 

Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal--but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.

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