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Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler

Jessica Speart, Winged Obsession
Harper Collins Publisher, George Brenner

"CBS Early Show" News Anchor Jeff Glor speaks with author Jessica Speart, who went undercover to research a $200 million operation: the international smuggling of rare butterflies.

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Jessica Speart: I've always written about endangered species issues. My work as an investigative journalist led to a ten book mystery series that featured a U.S. Fish & Wildlife special agent. One of my books involved an endangered California butterfly. I'd never known much about butterfly collecting and became fascinated with the topic. I wasn't sure what to do next when the mystery series ended. Then I heard about an actual butterfly smuggling case so dark and quirky that I was immediately hooked.

JG: What surprised you most during the writing process?

JS: I was amazed at how many people are obsessed with butterflies. They're released at weddings and funerals, and are among the most popular tattoos. Their image is used to promote everything from vodka to luxury cars, along with adorning tee shirts and notebooks. They're symbols of beauty and hope, rebirth and transformation. That's a lot of baggage for a tiny insect.

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

JS: I started out as an actress and found my experience to be somewhat like that in the movie Tootsie. I was either too young, too old, had too many freckles, was too short, or they weren't looking for redheads. I now work at home in my sweatpants. What's not to like about that? I can't see myself doing anything else.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

JS: I'm reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I've long admired his work. Krakauer is a master at breathing life into nonfiction.

JG: What's next for you?

JS: I'm looking for another wildlife topic to tackle for the next nonfiction book.

For more on "Winged Obsession," visit the Harper Collins website.

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