Westonbirt English teacher and author recognised for her novel by The Times
30th November 2023
Welcome to our exclusive Q&A session with an esteemed Westonbirt English teacher, delving into the process of writing and the art of inspiring her students. In this discussion, we talk about life, her novel, and the balance of being a teacher, author and mother of three. We also congratulate Ms. Butterfield and her recent novel ‘You Get That From Me,’ as it was featured in The Times’ article on the ‘7 best popular fiction novels of 2023’.
How does it feel to have your most recent book acknowledged by The Times?
I am absolutely thrilled and overwhelmed in equal measure! I had no idea about it until my editor messaged me to tell me to buy a copy of the paper. It is also such a joy to be in the same list as authors I have admired for years. I waited for over an hour to hear Jojo Moyes speak at Dubai Literature Festival ten years ago and I queued for her to sign my book and now my novel is in the same list as hers; this is a proper pinch-me moment!
What inspires your novels?
I’ve found that my novels have sort of grown up as I have; my first three books were more romantic comedies – following the quest for love and career, and then the next two were more focused on families and relationships. I try not to put my friends’ anecdotes into my books, but sometimes they slip in accidentally!
In what way does your writing experience and knowledge continue to inspire Westonbirt Students?
The students here are so supportive of my writing – they all want me to name a character after them, and should the film rights ever be sold, I have hundreds of very willing extras! I love running creative writing workshops with the students, thinking about creating compelling characters and structuring engaging stories, and every year when I launch a new novel we have a class book launch party, which is great fun.
How do you balance your writing requirements while being a full-time teacher and mum?
Good question! And in all honesty, I’m not sure the perfect balance ever exists! I do tend to do most of my writing during the school holidays as term time is so busy. I have a writing shed in my garden and as soon as the sun’s up, I’ll make a big flask of coffee, slip on my fingerless gloves, pop on my fairy lights and that’s where I’ll be spending the Christmas holidays. My three children are older now: 15, 13 and 10, so they’re happy pottering about the house or with their own hobbies while I escape to my fictional world for a few weeks. I can’t wait!
What advice would you have for a Westonbirt student that wants to become a writer?
Read, read, and read some more. I honestly believe that it’s impossible to be a good writer without being a great reader. I also tell my students in our very first English lesson to open their eyes and look for the stories all around them: the one glove by the side of the road, the person wearing a friendship bracelet, the person crying on the bus, the hug between two people at a railway station – stories are literally everywhere, you just need to know where to look…
As we conclude this illuminating Q&A with our esteemed English teacher, we extend our gratitude for the profound insights shared and congratulate her on this accomplishment. We hope this dialogue inspires a continued appreciation for the written word and the transformative power of education.