In this month’s spotlight, Rachel Mans McKenny shares the inspiration behind her just-released debut novel The Butterfly Effect and lets us in on what’s on her #tbrlist.
Tell us about your novel.
My novel is about a grumpy entomologist who prefers bugs to people. When her twin has a health emergency, she has to end a research trip to help take care of him. In the process, she must come to terms with the broken relationships in her life: her estranged mother, her twin’s fiancee, and her ex-boyfriend. In the process of putting her life back together, she has to discover how to love others, and how to allow herself to be loved in return.
What inspired your novel?
A trip to the local butterfly conservatory, where the novel ended up being partially set! I wondered what it would be like to work in a place like that, and decided to do research to find out. My brother also passed away when I was too young to help step in to take care of him, and so the sibling/caretaking relationship has always been one that’s resonated with me. The book is partially dedicated to his memory.
What do you hope readers take away from your debut?
I hope readers get a new appreciation for their loved ones. It’s been a rough few years for a lot of us. I hope that reading a book about someone finding forgiveness and redefining family and success will help readers get through what might be a tough holiday season. Plus, I think people will learn a lot about insects along the way. If you like books that have lots of drama plus teach you something (with banter mixed in), I hope you’ll pick up my debut!
What are you reading lately?
Book recommendations are my love language, so I’m always down to share what I’ve loved reading lately. I really loved The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J Ryan Stradal (another Midwest-set book), and devoured The Death of Vivek Oji. I also got my hands on The Upstairs House by Julia Fine, which comes out in February, and if you love horror or books about motherhood, you should add it to your TBR!
What are your interests outside of writing?
I love playing my old school gameboy to relax–I’m a huge PokemonGo nerd, too (still, I know.) It’s something fun for the kids that gets us outside. I love reading and the Great British Bake Off. I also enjoy cooking, especially trying out new recipes and skills when I get the chance.
Rachel Mans McKenny is the author of the debut women’s fiction novel The Butterfly Effect and a member of four book clubs. Her work has recently appeared in The New York Times, Scary Mommy, Catapult, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other outlets. You can find more about her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.