Beautiful Broken Girls
By: Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
Remember the places you touched me.
The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.
Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.
It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.
1) If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?Let’s go with bag. My MacBook Air next to a sweating bottle of water. Yikes. Earbuds (I’m addicted to podcasts. Lately, Someone Knows Something). A copy of Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World. A Quest bar. Used tubing from my son’s insulin pump. White hockey tape, same child. Two-Faced Melted Matte Lipstick in Bordeaux (obsessed). A curled-up sticker from the Boston Women’s March. An insulated cup; a gift from a friend printed with my favorite last line: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”No clue why I have shoulder pain.2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?I’m not a pantser, but I’m not a meticulous plotter, either. I write out what needs to happen in every chapter—often one sentence—usually on Scrivener. Because I’m a disorganized person who gets a charge out of feeling organized, I know I’m at risk: if I plotted heavily, I’d fall in love with my pretty planning and never write the story.3) What is your number one writing tip?Tell your story, regardless of what’s happening in the world. A lot of writers I know are experiencing creative paralysis right now. The arts are in danger, and there has never been a more important time to practice your art.4) Describe your new book in 5 words or less.This is not the book for that challenge! Okay: Ben discovers why Mira died. That sounds simplistic when the answer couldn’t be further from.5) What are some “fun facts” you can share about a character from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?I can share a general one: Once upon a time, there were more sisters. Like, a lot more. Along those lines…6) Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?I’m obsessed with Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. Everyone has a novel they think is pitch-perfect, where every word is right. TVS is mine. But it’s more than that: it’s an obsession with understanding what really happened to the Lisbon sisters. Beautiful Broken Girls is the way I explored that, with my own girls, and an entirely different plot.7) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?My favorite was Francesca, because she’s so easy for me to understand. There’s a logic to the choices she makes. In the end, she becomes misguided, but I’m right with her until the moment she makes her fatal choice.Mira didn’t give me trouble, exactly. But she did break my heart, because her terrible choice was made with absolute clarity. I wrote about this in an article for Bustle called When Your Own Novel Breaks Your Heart.8) If you could ask a character of your choice from BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS one question what would it be?“Piggy, how’s the peeping?” (in the voice of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley)9) What scene from the book are you most proud of?The moment Francesca realizes what she’s going to do. Her choice to take her own life has a clear context, even if it is impossible to understand. She says to Mira: “He doesn’t want me while I’m living. But he’ll have me when I’m dead.”10) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book?I found the scene I describe above devastating, though it wasn’t hard to write, because it was in line with Francesca’s character.11) What is next for you? What are your currently working on?I just finished IN HER SKIN, which is releasing in Winter 2018. It’s about a teen con artist who insinuates herself into a family connected to a girl who went missing seven years earlier. It’s like After the Woods in that it moves fast, and the fear comes from discovering the truth, but also from what’s going to happen next, and next, and after that. Jo is an unlikely heroine whom I think readers will root for.I’ve never wanted anything than to be a working writer. Having a novel out every year is a dream for me.12) How does the cover and/or title relate to your book, be it themes, a certain scene, a reoccurring element of the story, or how does it captures the essence of the story in general?Beautiful Broken Girls is about touch. The chapters are named for the parts of Mira that Ben touches: her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and lastly, her heart. The cover image is of a hand touching a heart. That, along with the cutline—”if you touch things, they can break”—suggests what really happened.But really, it was so much more.
Kim Savage is the author of AFTER THE WOODS, a debut psychological thriller for young adults coming on Feb 23, 2016 with Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan. Her second thriller for young adults comes from FSG is 2017. Before writing fiction, she worked as business journalist, pitching stories along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You get the idea.
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