Why read it?
It is a well told historical novel. A good thriller with a dash of romance.
A story of justice, retribution and love
What’s the story?
Lena was a lost child of German-occupied Paris. A mostly silent child, she eventually begins to think of herself as French and eventually moves to Australia to start a new life.
The heroine, Mademoiselle Lena Marceau is a young lady with an unknown past who arrives in Melbourne after living in Sydney as a society wife. Her subsequent rather ugly divorce leads to her relocating to Melbourne in the 1960’s to study to become a court reporter. It was a very clever move for this almost penniless woman as shorthand writers in the courts were paid so well that she soon could afford to live better, with a touch of elegance.
While in court one day, the high pitched strident voice of one Judge Ferik struck her like lightning and Lena’s body and mind went into shock. Her life’s path changed in that instant. Did that voice trigger memories of 27 years ago in a far distant place, or was it all a figment of her imagination?
Some exquisite butterfly jewellery found in different parts of the world, played an important yet convoluted part in the Butterfly Enigma.
‘In many cultures the butterfly is viewed with great respect, even with fear. Ancient civilisations believed it to be the symbol of the human soul, that when a person dies, their soul takes the form of a butterfly.’ – Butterfly Enigma
One of the few memories our heroine has of her mother is the haunting order, “Whatever happens you must never look back.” Maybe that’s a life’s message for us as readers. I’d love to reveal more of the story but its evolution was so fascinating, so sad and yet so exciting that it’s best that you read it yourself.
Pat’s final verdict: Highly recommended. This is a cracker of a novel.
Lorraine Campbell on what inspired her to write Butterfly Enigma: “Working as a court reporter over the years, I heard some incredible stories in the Melbourne Law Courts but the tales of Nazi war criminals living in Australia and the many unsuccessful attempts to bring them to justice filled me with an ongoing and abiding sense of outrage. Why could these mass murderers never be put on trial for their heinous crimes? So I decided to bring this part of Australia’s history to life.”
It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Australian writer, Lorraine Campbell, to my blog today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the publication of her third novel, The Butterfly Enigma, which was released on the 8th December.
Lorraine is a licensed shorthand writer who worked for seventeen years as a court reporter with the Victorian Government Reporting Service, providing verbatim transcripts of Supreme Court criminal trials and in other jurisdictions. She has also been a freelance court reporter in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
She has an Arts Degree from Monash University, majoring in Philosophy and English Literature, and has studied French and German for a number of years.
Her previous novels are Resisting the Enemy and In Mortal Danger and she has had articles published in On Line Opinion, News.com.au, and Girl.com.au.
A resident of Melbourne’s bayside, Lorraine adores the opera, theatre and movies. She also likes to keep fit and runs every morning along the beach and in the local parks. What she really enjoys most is lying on a chaise longue, popping chocs and reading crime thrillers – or absolutely anything by Alan Furst.
Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know Lorraine a bit more.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank JAM PR, for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and making this interview possible.
Lorraine, it’s really great to have you here to celebrate the release of The Butterfly Enigma.
Thank you so much. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here with you.
Please share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author.
From my earliest childhood, I’ve been an avid reader. Books have always been an important part of my life. But it was only when I went back to University and did an Arts degree – having to write long essays on all manner of subjects – that I discovered my love of writing. But, of course, I didn’t just suddenly emerge fully formed as a writer. It takes a long time to learn the craft of writing. The other day I came across an early draft of my first book. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The stilted dialogue, the clichés, the overblown descriptions… But it showed me just how far I had come since those early days.
I recently finished reading The Butterfly Enigma but for those who are wanting to purchase it, would you mind giving us a breakdown?
Essentially, it’s about one young woman’s desire to unlock the secrets of her past and her quest for justice and retribution. As a young child, Lena is found wandering the streets of wartime Paris. No-one knows her name or where she comes from. Australia in the “Swinging Sixties” Lena is working in the Law Courts. One day she hears a man’s voice. A voice that sounds hauntingly familiar. A voice that chills her to the core. Is it possible that this man has something to do with her unknowable past? Lena embarks on a search for more. And slowly, layer by layer, the past is peeled away, revealing a picture of evil involving thousands of lives and touching on Lena’s own personal tragedy.
Being a former Barristers’ secretary, I was absolutely fascinated by your main character, Lena and her environment. Can you give us some more insight into her and the world she inhabits?
The world Lena finds herself inhabiting is one that most members of the public never get to see. Working as a court reporter in the criminal jurisdiction, it comes as a shock to be confronted with the dark and violent underside of society. But in time, like all those who work in the criminal courts – judges, barristers, police, court staff – Lena acquires the ability to deal with all the sordidness and violence in a matter-of-fact-way. After all, she has a job to do. Providing a verbatim transcript of court proceedings requires intense focus and concentration.
World War 2 is one of the greatest and most horrible lessons humanity has ever learned — sometimes, I wonder if we have learned everything we should. It’s been fodder for so many movies, books and TV and Lorraine Campbell provides the newest entry to this genre, set in Australia in the 1960s: The Butterfly Enigma (reviewed at the link).
Lorraine is a licensed a licensed shorthand writer and worked for seventeen years as a court reporter with the Victoria Government Reporting Service. In The Butterfly Engima, Lena, the main character becomes a court reporter post a horrible divorce, and begins to rebuild her life. It’s through her job that her search into her past begins. The book was an engrossing read, with a main character that proved was complicated, messy and yes, even hard to like — and all that made her all the more riveting — characters like this make reading so much fun! I spent my time reading this book going Lena no! and cheering her on.
This is what Lorraine says about working as a court reporter:
“Working as a court reporter over the years, I heard some incredible stories in the Melbourne Law Courts – but the tales of Nazi war criminals living in Australia and the many unsuccessful attempts to bring them to justice filled me with an ongoing and abiding sense of outrage. Why could these mass murderers never be put on trial for their heinous crimes? So I decided to bring this part of Australia’s history to life.”
I find this amazing; can you imagine the stories a court reporter hears? Read on to find out more about Lorraine, her time as a court reporter, and why she’s a research junkie.
How did you find become a court reporter? What was it like?
I became a court reporter purely by chance. It happened just as it appears in The Butterfly Enigma. One of those chance encounters that changes the course of your life forever. I was working as a legal secretary and one of the women there told me about it. My first experience as a court reporter was quite a shock. Working in the criminal jurisdiction, you’re confronted with that dark underside of society that most members of the public never get to see. Hearing the graphic details of violent rapes, or the sexual abuse of children, was particularly shocking and upsetting. But like all those who work in the criminal courts – judges, barristers, police, court staff – you learn to deal with it. And, of course, there are the other jurisdictions you work in as well: commercial, civil juries, probate, bail applications. The great thing about being a court reporter is the constant variety. Every day is different, and every day you learn something new.
Interview – Reading, Writing and Riesling
When I was a child…
I absolutely loved to read. Long after lights out, I would pull the bedcovers over my head and read by torch light. All the children’s classics, Enid Blyton, Grimm’s Fairytales, Folktales of Scotland (some of which were really scary!) Then on to my brother’s bookshelf. Boy’s Own Annual – stories with titles like “Rockfist Rogan of the RAF” – and all the Biggles books. I can still name most of the fighter aircraft of WWI and WWII – from the Sopwith Camel to the Messerschmitt 109. Perhaps that’s where the seeds of writing about that time in history were sown!
Lessons I learned as a court reporter…
That if you’re lucky enough to have had a normal childhood, with parents who loved you, then never cease to be grateful for that. Working in the courts, you see such terrible things. What can happen to young people who aren’t so lucky. Who suffer all forms of abuse and neglect. I always think, in another life, that could have been me.
My favourite book of 2015…
is Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling.) The best by far in the series. This one is much more character driven and less weighed down by too many red herrings and unnecessary detail. As a writer of historical fiction, I also want to mention The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. A clever blending of fact and fiction and underpinned by meticulous research. This one is a real page turner, full of action and suspense. I won’t spoil the ending – save to say it’s an absolute corker!
Question: How does Mortal Danger lead on from Resisting the Enemy?
Lorraine Campbell: The seeds of romance that were reluctantly sewn in Resisting the Enemy have now begun to grow in earnest. But so too have Maximilian’s suspicions about Valli’s resistance activities. While Resisting the Enemy was told entirely from Valli’s perspective, In Mortal Danger allows the reader to see things from Maximilian’s point of view. He too is a loyal patriot. And now he’s faced with a choice between his feelings for Valli and his duty as a German officer to report her to the Gestapo.
For Valli, her worst fears are now realised. Her dearest friend, Marguerite is arrested. With the Gestapo closing in, she has to make decisions. What are her true feelings for Maximilian? And what if he is their only hope?
Question: Which heroine inspired you most?
Lorraine Campbell: They both inspired me equally, but in very different ways. In Resisting the Enemy, we follow Valli as she negotiates that transition from twelve-year-old schoolgirl, through her teenage years, to emerging adulthood. Surviving the agonies of first love. Learning how to take risks. The stratagems she develops in order to deal with tragedy and loss. This younger heroine, of course, is key to the Valli we see in Mortal Danger. A young woman whose courage is now put to the test. Who faces life and death situations every day. And now, of course, finding herself in the most dangerous situation of all: engaging emotionally with the enemy.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Lorraine Campbell: I draw a great deal of inspiration for my characters from real life. People I’ve known – whether it be family, friends, lovers, mentors, acquaintances. They’re all there in some form or another. Not directly recognisable, of course – except to a very few! Mostly they’re an amalgam. Of course, how they develop on the page as characters, what they say and do, how they react to events, that’s all a product of my imagination.
Like most writers, you draw on your knowledge about all manner of things. What interests you, what you’re passionate about, what you’ve discovered as you go through life, your own personal experiences, your dreams, your fantasies. You make use of it all in bringing your characters to life.
Question: What did you enjoy most about creating the character of Valentine de Vaillant?
Lorraine Campbell: Bringing a creature of my imagination to life. As a writer, you develop a very strong relationship with your characters. You think about them a lot. Most of the time. In fact you become totally obsessed with them. For me, Valli became a real person. It was as though she had a mind of her own, and she was speaking and leading her life, but at the same time I was very much involved in leading her life with her.
What I also loved was the idea that perhaps this imaginary character of mine might influence young girls in positive ways. Inspire them to stand up for what they believe in, whatever the cost, and without fear of the consequences. We must remember, when needed, we all have the potential to be a heroine. We just need to identify that quality in ourselves, before it’s diminished by outside forces.
Question: What’s next, for you?
Lorraine Campbell: I’ve just completed the final draft of my third novel, due for release later this year. It takes up the story of one of the minor characters who appears in In Mortal Danger. The setting is the 1960s – -The Swinging Sixties’ – that amazing time in our history when everything was changing. A good deal of the action takes place in the Melbourne Law Courts, but the story also encompasses various other locations: Paris, Tel Aviv, Crete, Rio de Janeiro. Essentially, it’s about one young woman’s desire to unlock the secrets of her past and her quest for justice and retribution.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
See original at Girl.com