Happy Saturday and welcome to my stop on the Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things blog tour!! Today I have an interview with Jacqueline Firkins to share with you! Read on to discover Jacqueline’s favorite scenes from her book, which YA characters Edie, Sebastian, and Henry would hang out with if they could, plus a link to follow the rest of the tour!
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on December 17, 2019
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I've Loved Before.
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.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things?
I think most readers will like the kissing scenes, or the almost kissing scenes, but some of my favorite moments are between Edie and Maria as they build their relationship throughout the novel. Maria starts off as a bit of a caricature but when she shows some vulnerability she’s really fun to write. I like the moments when the girls bond and get real with each other.
If Edie, Sebastian, and Henry were to hang out with characters from other YA books, who would they be and why?
Edie would leap at the chance to hang out with her literary predecessors. They’re not all from books written specifically for YA, but they’re young women who grapple with similar issues about love and identity. I can totally picture a lunch date with Edie and Lily Bart (The House of Mirth), Lucy Snowe (Villette), Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch), Margaret Hale (North and South), and of course, her counterpart, Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. They’re all smart girls with personal ambitions and complicated feelings about love and personal expression.
Sebastian would probably get along well with Quentin Coldwater from Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars. Both are intelligent guys who struggle with what it means to be at the center of their own stories.
Henry would hang out with himself, while surrounded by beautiful girls like Estella from Great Expectations and Blanche Ingram from Jane Eyre. The Mean Girls would fit in well, too. Anyone who could fan his ego. At least until he realized he wanted something deeper.
What would you do if you spent the day with Edie, Sebastian, and Henry? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?
Tensions would run high if I hung out with all three at the same time, but we’d definitely end up at a bookstore at some point, even if Henry flirted with the clerk while the rest of us perused the shelves and filled our arms with fabulous finds. We’d also go for ice cream. I center a lot of scenes around food when I write. Partly I’m obsessed, and partly food serves as a good symbol for desire and as a reflection of personal taste. I cut a scene from a previous draft that paralleled a scene from Mansfield Park, with everyone vying for cones when they’re really vying for each other’s attention. I think we could play that one out off the page.
What inspired you to write Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things?
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.
I also love love triangles. I know some other readers feel differently, but I enjoy the anticipation of watching a hero or heroine be drawn to two different people as they figure out what their heart most wants. That said, I find a lot of love triangles frustrating because there’s an obvious choice, eliminating the tension of the impending decision. One of the love interests smacks his gum or doesn’t open doors or says something insensitive and we know he/she won’t get chosen. I really enjoy how Austen balances her love triangle in Mansfield Park. We assume we’re on route to an obvious match, but then the other guy sweeps in and we’re no longer certain how the story will end. She cleverly shifts our alliances as the story plays out. I wanted a chance to try to capture that sensation for the reader.
Do you write to music? If so, what were you listening to while you wrote Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things?
I have trouble concentrating, so I write in quiet, but I listen to music when I run, which is often when I work out plot points or character details. Here’s a list of songs that filtered into the feel of Edie’s music.
- Patty Griffin: Be Careful
- Tracey Chapman: Baby Can I Hold You
- Alanis Morissette: That I Would Be Good
- Ani DiFranco: As Is
- Brandi Carlile: Whatever You Do
- Sara Bareilles: Brave
- Jann Arden: Unloved
- Lisa Loeb: Falling in Love
- Missy Higgins: Where I Stood
- Tori Amos: A Sorta Fairytale
What’s your current favorite book?
I read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood Bone last year and was blown away with the world and relationships she developed. It’s a sweeping, entertaining fantasy but with so many layers to it. The romance, violence, and magic all feel integral to the story, as does the choice to write in multiple points of view. My all time favorite book will probably always be Jane Eyre, but for recent reads, Adeyemi’s book blew me away.
Jacqueline’s a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She’s on the full time 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