[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Erin! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Erin Butler] Sometimes neurotic but loving author.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about How We Lived?
[Erin Butler] How We Lived is a story about second chances and forgiveness and learning to live again after a death. Oh, and it’s got a great love story too!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your favorite scene?
[Erin Butler] Mother Nature was a bitch. Really. The whole world couldn’t give a crap about me right now. Or Kyle.
The name pinched my chest so hard I had to take another breath to swallow it down. Hidden beneath the shade of a huge oak tree, I drew my knees up and hugged them to my chest.
Kyle died five months ago, the weather in New England too cold to lay him to rest, the ground frozen and immovable. I once thought my parents’ relationship was as impenetrable as the solid, unyielding December soil. Apparently, I was wrong.
Down a little hill and off to the right, my mother and father sat in fancy white folding chairs dressed in head-to-toe black, stiff as the starch Mom used on their nice clothes—or more like two metal rods had been shoved up their asses. My mother pressed a matching handkerchief to the corner of each eye while my dad stared straight ahead. The distance between them was noticeable, palpable.
Mother Nature drew this whole fucking thing out. If we could have put Kyle in the ground when he died, maybe my dad wouldn’t be sleeping on the couch, maybe I wouldn’t need to take summer courses, and maybe I wouldn’t have had to sit under a massive tree in May while the sun streamed down through the leaves, watching my brother’s casket lower into the ground.
Sunny days were for lying on the beach, taking walks, and kissing boys. They were for happy things, not things that made you want to throw up your heart and toss it into the casket with everything else that had been taken away.
Fuck this. I was done. I’d mourned Kyle already. I hadn’t stopped mourning him. Was some stupid ceremony supposed to make me feel better somehow? Some stupid ceremony that drew out five months of grieving, five months of wondering where Kyle’s body was, five months of feeling like the world was continuously punching me in the gut? I moved to stand, but a hand on my shoulder pushed me down. Chase. I knew even before meeting his big brown eyes.
He was dressed in black, too. A suit and tie. Curls of dark hair wrapped around his ears, and shadows lined his face, but that wasn’t anything new. If anyone held true to the dark, brooding, reckless stereotype, it was Chase. In high school, the girls swooned so much they practically curtsied in his presence. Me? No effect. Not really. I was his best friend’s little sister. Was being the most important word. They weren’t best friends anymore, him and Kyle.
The pressure of his hand dragged me down, down, down. That hand. For twenty-one years it had picked Kyle up, but that night it threw back shots. It turned the key in the ignition. It clasped the steering wheel and numbly maneuvered through the snow and ice. It reacted too late when the car slid. When Kyle needed him the most, that hand was too late.
Chase killed my brother.
He was the reason Kyle’s body lay fifty yards away, shut tight in a wood box.
“Kels,” he said. His lips wrapped around the word, familiar.
Really? Kels? We hadn’t talked in months and my nickname dropped from his lips like it always had. I stared at his hand and tried to decide what to do. Slap him away? Pull him to me and hold him like I missed him? Because I had missed him, if that mattered, if that even made sense. He removed his hand before I could make up my mind and jammed it into the front pocket of his ironed suit pants.
“No one thought you’d come,” I said.
He nudged the two white carnations lying on the ground next to me with his shiny black shoes. “You did.”
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?
[Erin Butler] I think Kelsey gave me the most trouble. I adore her and think she’s so strong and genuine. However, throughout most of the book, I think she straddles a fine line between being frustrating and sympathetic. I wanted her to be that way though. She needed to be real and in real life, it would take a lot to forgive someone for being the reason why your brother died. I tried to portray her struggles but also make her a likeable character too.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Erin Butler] My cell phone.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Erin Butler] Books, lotion, and a picture of me and my sister.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Erin Butler] Hmm, I’ve always wanted to be a princess so I’m going with Duchess Kate.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
[Erin Butler] I want to fly. I love to travel so if I could fly on my own, I’d go anywhere and everywhere within that week.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Erin Butler] Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and In Bloom by Katie Delahanty
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Erin Butler] Twitter would be the best way. I’m @ErinButler on there. Feel free to @ me!
Book Title: How We Lived
Author: Erin Butler
Nineteen-year-old Kelsey Larkin’s parents uninvited her to her brother’s funeral. She just wanted to wear jeans and a T-shirt—the clothes Kyle would’ve wanted her in—not wrap herself up in death. So she watched the funeral from afar, like an outsider. Which is just how she feels. Chase came, though, just like she knew he would. Until a few months ago, the three of them had been best friends, and then Chase made a mistake that shattered both families. But when Kelsey looks at him, she doesn’t see her brother’s killer. She sees the boy next door who’s always taken care of her. She sees home.
When Chase tells her his feelings run deeper than friendship, she can’t help but get lost in him. In Chase, she finally has the closure she’s been unable to find anywhere else. But the boy she’s falling in love with is still hiding secrets about the night Kyle died. Secrets that could destroy everything they have…again.
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Twitter: @EPEmbrace Steals and Deals
Author Bio: Erin Butler is lucky enough to have two jobs she truly loves. As a librarian, she gets to work with books all day long, and as an author, Erin uses her active imagination to write the kinds of books she loves to read. Young Adult and New Adult books are her favorites, but she especially fangirls over a sigh-worthy romance.
She lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. Preferring to spend her time indoors reading or writing, she’ll only willingly go outside for chocolate and sunshine—in that order.
Giveaway Info: (2) $25 gift cards