Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Interview with Jacqueline Firkins for Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

by Jacqueline Firkins
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 17th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Retellings, Contemporary
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Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there's Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there's Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone's heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn't hers.

Can you briefly describe HEARTS, STRINGS AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS and the characters?

HSAOBT is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. 17-year-old Edie Price moves in with her rich relatives during her last semester of high school. She’s far more interested in books than she is parties and clothes, but when her cousins sweep her up in their Cinderella schemes, she finds herself torn between her childhood crush--the sweet-but-taken boy next door--and the town’s increasingly appealing bad boy. As she grapples with her unexpected romantic entanglements, she learns that doing nothing can sometimes be the worst choice of all.

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

Edie (the main character) is closest to my heart. As a bookish introvert who’s still trying to figure out what she wants and who she is, she’s the most relatable for me. That said, Maria and Henry were the most fun to write. Edie’s based loosely on Fanny Price from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Fanny has very strict principles. Edie’s somewhat similar. She needs that trait in order to make the story work without tossing out the Austen entirely. Henry and Maria have much more erratic moral compasses. Irreverence is great fun to write, as is unshakable confidence. The characters say things I’d never utter aloud in real life. Politeness and apologies go out the window, as does the need to please, impress, or get along. It’s liberating, and great for comedy.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

The seed for HSAOBT was planted when a friend and I were discussing Jane Austen heroines. My friend had recently re-read Mansfield Park and was frustrated with the passivity of Fanny Price after enjoying Austen's feistier and more outspoken heroines. But I'd remembered relating to Fanny more than I did to Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse. So I went back and re-read Mansfield. I recalled why I loved its heroine. She was like me. I wasn't feisty and outspoken either. I preferred a book to a party. And I always had a crush on a guy who didn't notice me. Or more than one guy. So I started thinking about how I could bring that character into a contemporary world, allowing more readers access to a heroine I was grateful to find when I most needed her, during my teenage years. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

If HSAOBT ever got produced for the screen, I imagine a soundtrack filled with female singer/songwriters to parallel the main character’s artistic journey. I’d love to hear some of Edie’s lyrics put to music, even those that were excised during edits. However, in choosing an existing song that feels like the book, the one that came to mind was the Lumineers “Ho Hey.” The title’s not very telling, but the song starts with a single acoustic guitar. The lyrics mention loneliness and a search for family. Then it breaks into a cheerful chorus about love and belonging. The instruments build and blend. Voices join force. It ends on such a joyous note. It feels like a simple, happy love story. It also has undertones of a complicated struggle against loneliness. Much like the layers I hope a reader finds with HSAOBT.

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

Edie Price: Millie Bobby Brown. She’s brilliant at conveying a lot with silence, which works well for a character who likes to observe others. She can be angry but vulnerable at the same time. Strong but self-doubting. She does complicated well.

Sebastian Summers: Asa Butterfield. He nails adorably awkward, sensitive, earnest, and self-deprecating. He’s the guy you can’t help but root for, no matter what role he plays. And he has those eyes.

Henry Crawford: Jacob Artist. He’s good at playing sensitive guys, but I think he can pull off a bad boy, too. He’s drop-dead gorgeous and he does a great job emitting rock-solid confidence.

Claire Crawford: Zendaya. She’s stunningly sexy. A total head-turner. The girl who seems to have everything, but maybe doesn’t.

Maria Vernon: Madelaine Petsch. She’s brilliant and portraying offhanded narcissism. Then busting through it all for a moment of pure, relatable vulnerability.

Julia Vernon: Jane Levy. She’s cute. She’s likable. She fits in well as the less flashy, more accessible version of her sexy older sister.

Tom Summers: Harry Styles. All style and swagger. Zero regrets. The image of popularity and confidence his younger brother will never live up to.

WB: Arata Mackenyu. He might be a bad boy. He might be a nice guy. Jury’s out. He’s cute, confident, and versatile.

Aunt Norah and Uncle Bert: Jane Lynch and Jim Gaffigan. The perfect odd couple. They’re both brilliant at dry humor and a look that says everything.

Winter is here and we love to go out and enjoy the sun. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

Starbucks blossoming rose tea latte in a winter rose garden, or anything that feels warm, sweet, cozy, and romantic!

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish HEARTS, STRINGS AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS? 

Anything by John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Both authors are astonishing at writing messy, funny, unique, profound, and beautifully sincere romantic relationships. Assuming most readers are already familiar with Green and Rowell, I’ll recommend a couple of 2019 debuts I’ve enjoyed this year. Laura Taylor Namey’s The Library of Lost Things also follows a bookish teenage girl as she navigates new love and a challenging family life. Sonia Hartl’s Have a Little Faith in Me is a friends-to-lovers story that takes a serious—and hysterical--look at the effects of poor sex education. 

What’s next for you? 

I have three projects in development. The first is a follow up to HSAOBT that draws on my experience as a costume designer. It’s a YA enemies-to-lovers rom-com about a fashion-loving high school student who signs up to work on her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for all the wrong reasons. While designing the costumes, she finds an unlikely soul mate in the project’s surly set designer—the guy who was responsible for her worst (and only) date ever. The second novel is a middle grade story about a girl whose dreams come true and she can’t control them. Some of the effects are ridiculous. Others are truly frightening. With the help of two new friends, she learns that sometimes the greatest powers aren’t magical at all. The third novel is an adult historical romance/thriller based on the Bluebeard myth, braiding together the folktale (told from her POV) and the opera (told from his POV). How much do we ever really know about our partners? And are there doors that should simply remain locked? Of course I’d also love to write the sequel to HSAOBT, as long as Jane Austen would forgive my plans for what happens after the happily ever after!


Jacqueline's a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She's on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

👫 G I V E A W A Y 💔 . . Happy Wednesday, Beautiful Bookish People! Have you visited any Christmas Markets? What is your favourite drink during winter time? . Today, we have a very cute and special book to share with you: #HeartsStringsAndOtherBreakableThings by Jacqueline Firkins. I say special, because I love summer romances, and this book is perfect for this winter because it makes me start daydreaming about summer and my favourite stories! In this novel, we meet Edie about to spend her last summer before colleague in a place she would rather not be while dealing with her mother's passing. While she keeps trying to stay focused on colleague, 2 distractions in the form of a bad-boy and her old-time crush come knocking on her door, leading to heartbreak and romance. Edie just needs to make sure she's not the one getting her heart broken! . I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE stories like this one and today we have partnered with Jacqueline (@jfkillsdarlings) to give you not only the chance to win a hardcopy of #HSAOBT but also a book-inspired dress! 3 designs available. 3 prizes! Swipe left to see pics (⬅️). . . ENTRIES FOR THE GIVEAWAY: ▪︎Follow @theffbc & @whatmakespatri ▪︎Follow the author @jfkillsdarlings ▪︎Follow the publishing house @hmhteen ▪︎Comment (to let us know you are participating!): Which dress do you like the most (& why)? . EXTRA ENTRIES FOR THE GIVEAWAY: ▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk & @artsyreadergirl . ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (let us know on the comment section who did you follow). Check everyone's Instagram handles below: @wishfulendings @l.m.durand @BookBriefs @stars.brite @booknerdanonymous @shelflifechronicles @agingerlyreview . Also, stop by my site to read an interview with Jacqueline and learn more about #HSAOBT! . . #bookshimmy #giveaway #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookstagramming #bookgram #yabookstagram #ireadya #booksatgrammer
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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Interview with Elizabeth Tammi for The Weight of a Soul

The Weight of a Soul

by Elizabeth Tammi
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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When Lena's younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should've lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.

But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction.

Still, with her sister's life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She's willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?

Can you briefly describe THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL and its characters? 

In short, THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL follows the story of Magdalena Freding, the 18-year-old daughter of a village chief. When her younger sister Fressa is found dead without a cause or explanation, Lena is the only one unwilling to accept that Fressa is gone; she strikes a dark deal with the Norse goddess of death, Hela, to bring her sister back and unwittingly stumbles into a plot that spans the nine worlds, threatening Ragnarok. This story follows Lena’s journey as she reckons with how far she is willing to go and how much she is willing to change about herself. Through it all, she must hide her double-life from her best friend (and Fressa’s fiancé) Amal, and her mother, who shoulders the burden of leading the village during her husband’s frequent raids. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

I connected the most with Lena, of course, since the story is told from her perspective and I understood her motivations. But I’ll say my favourite character to write was definitely Amal. His kindness and resiliency are so admirable, especially in the face of all he goes through during this story.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere? 

It was the culmination of lots of story “threads” that I had. I’d been wanting to write a story about sisters, but also was intrigued by Norse mythology. The perfect catalyst came while studying Viking history at Oxford. These three elements came together, and the plot came to me very quickly—something that hadn’t happened before and likely never will again, haha! I drew inspiration from my own close relationship with my sister, as well as my fascination with Norse mythology and Scandinavia, where a lot of my family came to the United States from.

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be? 

I think “If I Say” by Mumford & Sons is pretty fitting, but really anything by Danheim or Wardruna works too! 

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

Hmm…the closest I think we’d get in this time period would be to take this book to something like a pub. Get an ale or cider, and soak in the community atmosphere. It’s the closest we have to a “mead hall” these days, I think! 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL? 

Of course! I adored Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep, which is also Norse inspired. If you’re looking for something funny and heartfelt, try Rick Riordan’s trilogy Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard—that was my first extended introduction to this mythos. The Young Elites by Marie Lu is also a good example of a descent narrative. 

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book? 

It’s always revisions for me. Plotting is difficult but exciting, and I have zero qualms about writing a terrible first draft—there’s no pressure at that point. But once the story requires editing and revisions, it’s sometimes overwhelming to conceptualize and tackle.

What’s next for you? 

Right now, I’m focusing on finishing up my senior year of college. I graduate this May, so it’s going to be pretty hectic wrapping up my degree and figuring out what’s next for me! As far as writing goes, I can’t say a whole lot right now, but I am working on something new that I’m enjoying so far—it involves mythology, no surprise!

Elizabeth Tammi was born in California and grew up in Florida, but is currently double-majoring in Creative Writing and Journalism as an undergraduate at Mercer University in Georgia. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Elizabeth at work for her university’s newspaper and literary magazine. Her other interests include traveling, caffeinated beverages, and mythology. You can find Elizabeth online on Tumblr at (annabethisterrified), Twitter at (@ElizabethTammi), Instagram at (elizabeth_tammi), and at