Today, I will interview one of my favorite authors who also happened to be one of the sweetest and nicest authors around! She’s the author of Songs for a Teenage Nomad and Instructions for a Broken Heart, her upcoming novel.
How did you originally conceive this novel? Did anything change?
I took 16 students to Italy when I was a second year high school teacher. Another teacher was leading the trip and she asked me to come along. That was over ten years ago but in the back of mind, I always thought a school trip would make a fun book idea. The trip we had was so enlightening. Travel is an incredible time to take stock of your life and really look at the world in a new way. Then, several years ago, I was taking a writing workshop from the fabulous Sands Hall and she had us do a writing exercise and out of that exercise came this novel. I loved the idea of a girl heading out on this life-changing trip with a broken heart and a care package from her best friend to help her along the way.
What are the effects of betrayal on your character's life?
Obviously, the character goes through a lot of growth in this novel around the betrayal in her life. She’s hurting; she’s angry – but most importantly, for me, I wanted the novel to investigate both the betrayal but also the reasons behind it. Every break up has two sides – or rather three (the truth often being neither of the “sides”). Most importantly, I wanted to write a novel without villains. With just people who all have their own “reasons” for things.
How did she cope? Did she have any strategy?
She copes; she has good moments and not so good moments. The “instructions” from her best friend obviously provide some sort of framework, but also Italy comes to her aid. It’s amazing was travel can do for the heart.
What instruction would you give to a person with a broken heart?
Go to Italy! Ha, seriously, though, I’ve always felt like it’s good to get out of the norm, out of the comfort zone when your heart is hurting. Even if it’s just going to a new restaurant or seeing a movie you haven’t seen (preferably not one about breaking up). I am a hopelessly optimistic person, but I’ve had some horrible break ups in my life and as hard as it is, time does help but you can’t rush that. It takes – time! But I also think it’s important to hurt for awhile. I also think each person heals in his or her own way so it’s key to find your own outlet and not necessarily always do what your friends think is the right way. What might be right for them (a pint of Ben and Jerry’s) might not be right for you.
Heartache is commonly encountered by teens. How did you write about this? Did your age/maturity affect the way you perceive a teen's heartache?
I had my heart broken terribly as a teen. Major, major heartbreak. And I think I wanted to write this novel to give some credibility to teen heartbreak. So many people say things like “Well, she and her boyfriend broke up but, hey, it’s high school.” That makes me so mad. Like, what, we don’t feel things in high school, don’t feel betrayed or rejected? Hello! We feel those things SO much more as teenagers. There’s a scene in the novel where’s she talking to her teacher and they talk about how the first heartbreak in some ways is the hardest it will ever be because you don’t have any real body memory for it.
In writing this book, did you draw inspiration from personal experiences?
In so many ways. But we’ll leave it at that. It is fiction, after all. :)
Who would you recommend Instructions for a Broken heart to?
I think this book will appeal to not only people who’ve had their heart broken but also people who just like to see how people weather an upset like this one. And it’s also a great tribute to travel – Italy in particular, obviously – but that wonderful world of travel out there that holds so many possibilities for all of us.
Giveaway: ARC of Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.
You guys are lucky today! Because Kim offered an ARC copy of her upcoming novel from Sourcebooks Fire, Instructions for a Broken Heart!
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Ends on February 28, 2011! Open to US only (sorry – Kim will be sending it but if you have a US address or someone in the US who can receive the prize and send it to you, you can join!)
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