One of my favourite new series out in the UK this year is The Flappers by Jillian Larkin. Ooozing sex appeal, fabulous jazz, and girls breaking free from tradition it's Gossip Girl set in the twenties, and absolutely fabulous. The first book in the series 'Vixen' is available now. And to celebrate, Jillian was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing and books.
"Your new book Vixen, the first in your debut trilogy, is out now in the UK, can you tell us a little bit about it?"
Vixen is the story of three girls—Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine—who come of age in the early 1920’s in Chicago. Gloria is engaged to her fiancé, Bastian, only she’s not entirely sure she wants to marry him … especially when a hunky musician named Jerome enters her life. Clara has a torrid past, but comes back to Chicago for a fresh start. But will her secrets be revealed? And Lorraine is a schemer who is in love with Marcus, Gloria's best friend, who doesn’t love her back. To what end will Lorraine go to capture his love?
To me, Vixen is about doing what you love to do (even when others don’t want you to—especially your parents). It’s about the thrill of falling in love, and the sadness of realizing that certain friendships and relationships you have won’t last your entire lifetime. It’s also about going out and partying and having a grand old time with dazzling music, gorgeous dresses, and sexy boys.
"What's been the most exciting part of the writing and publishing process for you?"
I have always loved reading, and having the chance to actually write and publish a novel—let alone three!—has been an incredible honor and joy. I am so excited for readers to meet the girls of The Flappers and fall in love with them as much as I have. It's the oldest cliché in the book when a writers says that the characters on the page seemed to come to life for her, but it's true: Sometimes even I was surprised by what Lorraine or Gloria got up to! I hope readers find them as strong-willed and fun to read about as I have.
"And what has been the most challenging?"
The fear of disappointing readers. The first book, Vixen, was so well received here in the States that I worried whether readers would embrace Ingenue with as much love and fervor. I really mixed it up in the second novel—I'd added a new viewpoint character! I'd moved the action to Manhattan! I'd split up a key romance!—but it was a great relief to discover that my readers came with me and responded to the new viewpoint character and the events in the second novel with real glee. Now I've got my fingers crossed that they are as happy with how things wrap up in Diva.
"Was there anything specific that drew you to writing a trilogy set in the 20s?"
I have always loved the 20’s, ever since watching Thoroughly Modern Millie as a kid. I love the music of this time period, the clothes and hats and style, and mostly I love that the fact that girls were truly starting to become independent and rebel against the image society had projected onto them. When I sat down to write my first book, Vixen, I knew the setting had to be the Jazz Age.
"A huge amount of research must have gone into these novels, was there anything you found most helpful to create the world?"
I went through lots of pictures and watched lots of movies from that era. I read The Great Gatsby and other wonderful novels. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had an exhibit on clothing from the 20’s that I attended, which was incredibly helpful.
"Does anything in particular stimulate your writing, for example listening to a specific type of music?"
While I wrote The Flappers I had a constant stream of Bessie Smith, Scott Joplin, Robert Johnson, Duke Ellington—basically all the artists you can find on the Pennies From Heaven soundtrack and the Cotton Club soundtrack. So … yes, music!
"What are your favourite books and authors to read for pleasure?"
I love reading books about the performing arts. I also love science fiction and fantasy. In the teen world, I love Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, and there are two exciting new books coming out in 2012 that I adore: Theo Lawrence’s MYSTIC CITY and Yelena Black’s THE DANCE DIABOLICAL. Readers, look out for these gems!
"Will you be doing any signings or tours in the UK?"
It’s harder for me to get out and meet fans like I did here in the US, which was fun and helpful to hear about what readers responded to. But I am thrilled that UK readers will get to meet these girls!
"What are you working on at the moment? And do you have any plans for books following this series?"
Even though I don’t think the girls’ stories are done yet, I have been working on something wildly different—set in the future! But like The Flappers, really lives in the heart of teen girls discovering who they are, what they want to be when they grow up … and who they want to date!
If you haven't yet discovered 'The Flappers' book one, Vixen is out in the US and the UK. Book two Ingenue is out in the US already and will be out in the UK later this year.