Mack Kalish '15

"The idea that I work better when I’m miserable or heartbroken has influenced

every decision I have ever made since I was old enough to make mistakes.

The worst part about it is, it has always proven accurate. If you ask me, I think that

every great song, film, and piece of art, were created out of someone’s heartbreak."

-Butterflies: A Love Story with a Gun in its Mouth

Chapman Senior Mackenzie Kalish is majorly accomplished. At age 21, he has already self-published his first novel. Here's what he had to say about the book:

ED: You've published your first novel, Butterflies: A Love Story with a Gun in its Mouth. Tell me a little bit about the book?

MK: It’s a coming of age story about a kid growing up in Los Angeles. It’s a love story really. It follows the main character, Thomas Doheny, from age fifteen to age thirty. The whole story is told as his life is flashing before his eyes. It’s an inside look at our generation, and the problems that I think a lot of people deal with. A big theme in it is unrequited love, and how everyone deals with it differently. Thomas is someone who does not deal with it well at all, and we watch as his life begins to unravel, and then how he must pull it together.

ED: How long were you working on it?

MK: It took me about eleven months to write the first draft, and since then I have been doing rewrites and edits to it for about a year.

ED: Where did the inspiration come from?

MK: I wasn’t really a huge reader growing up, but I had always wanted to write a book. After I got a hang for the format, I figured I would give it a shot. I’m used to screenwriting, and writing for film, but when I got the idea for this story, I decided to try something new. I tried to write a book that I would want to read.

ED: Is there any truth behind the story?

MK: It is very much a work of fiction, but with that being said, I’m a writer who draws on experience, as many writers do. It’s a fictional story, but there are elements of characters, and plot points that are embellishments of reality.

ED: Have you always been interested in writing?

MK: Yeah, I have grown up around it my whole life. My dad, and both of his parents are screenwriters. Storytelling has always been a big part of my family.

ED: What was the most challenging aspect of the overall process?

MK: Self-publishing was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be at first. The last few weeks before the release were a lot of work. Andrew Le, a senior Graphic Design major at Chapman, and a close friend of mine, really saved my ass. Andrew helped design and format the entire book. There is not a word in it that was not hand placed there by him.

ED: Favorite part of the journey?

MK: The day I finished it. Typing “the end” for the first time was a crazy feeling.

ED: Any advice to future writers out there?

MK: Make mistakes. Go out, eat good food, drink good drinks, and enjoy yourself. I think experience is the most important element of writing. Get your heart broken, apologize sincerely, but do everything 100%. The writing will come when you have the stories to tell.