Jillian Larkin’s fascination with flappers and the 1920s began during her childhood, which included frequent home screenings of the classic Julie Andrews/Carol Channing film Thoroughly Modern Millie.
1. From the author’s own words, what will readers get out of reading The Flappers?
I write stories first and foremost to entertain—I’ve loved reading all my life, and I hope to give readers a bit of the fizzy fun I’ve found in the books I love. Beyond that, I hope that readers will be able take a break from their everyday lives and escape into the world of Chicago in the early 1920s, to fall in love with the time period and setting just like I did. Also, of course, I hope they fall in love with the gorgeous guys in the novel, the beautiful clothes, and follow along with all the intrigue and scandals!
2. In an era of vampires and werewolves, your debut book is focused on the 1920’s and the age of the flappers. Why this time period and these particular characters?
I have always been fascinated with the twenties. In fact, I grew up watching the Thoroughly Modern Millie movie with Julie Andrews so many times that my mother banned it from the house. It’s an appealing time when women—and teens—really began to come into their own. By outlawing a regular part of life—alcohol—rebellion was suddenly more acceptable than it had ever been before. The 1920’s were a wonderful time for women, who began to fight for their independence and freedom—both in their style and what they expect for themselves and their futures. Also, I think this time period is particularly interesting—fantastic clothes, awesome slang, and wonderful opportunity for delicious and juicy scenes. What else could an author ask for?
3. Assuming you did, how did you conduct research for your new series?
Besides watching Thoroughly Modern Millie again and rereading works by and about the Fitzgeralds (Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald was particularly inspiring), I did a lot of reading up on the city and the times in books and on websites. There are many amazing sites dedicated to every aspect of the jazz age from its slang to its music. The Met’s High Style show catalog was especially useful in describing clothing. I’ve lost track of how many Google Image searches I’ve done for “1920’s clothing” since I wanted to base the characters’ clothes on authentic 20s garments. Even with all the research, I was still grateful for the copy editor for calling out all sorts of inconsistencies. It is hard to catch every little thing.
4. Your main character, Gloria Carmody longs to break away from society expectations and become a fabulous flapper. Do you see parts of yourself in Gloria?
Absolutely. Gloria is a girl who grew up molded by society’s expectations. Isn’t that true of all girls even now? Gloria longs to break free from what her family deems is “proper” and to become a singer—she wants to pave her own path for her future instead of following one that has been assigned to her. I think every girl, myself included, has longed for something new and interesting in her life—to do something unexpected, to follow her dream, even if it might seem unreachable. Gloria’s longings are really those of every girl everywhere.
5. If The Flappers were to be optioned for a movie, who would you pick to play Gloria and Jerome Johnson—the attractive jazz musician who draws Gloria into his world?
This is such a hard question! Maybe Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) for Gloria or Evan Rachel Wood—we know from True Blood that she can pull off the red hair and beautiful clothing. If the movie were filmed a few years from now, I also think Chloe Moretz (500 Days of Summer) has the right level of feistiness for Gloria. Tristan Wilds (The Secret Life of Bees) could be a good Jerome.
6. Going back to the fact that this is your first book, when did you first know you wanted to become an author?
I’ve been pretty determined to become a writer since I was fourteen. Before that I was interested in musical theater—that may be where Gloria’s musical aspirations come from. I started writing short stories for fun and after some encouragement from a high school Creative Writing teacher, I began to realize that I wanted to go to NYU (my dream school pretty much since birth) for English more than I did for musical theater. When I was at NYU interning at a children’s literary agency, it inspired me to start work on my own teen novel.
7. Would you say writing is therapeutic for you?
Of course. When I’m having a good writing session, all my worries melt away and I’m able to completely lose myself in the story. It’s that feeling that make all the hours of writer’s block and frustration worth it. It’s also nice to think that I’m writing something young women will relate to, since I know reading books about characters going through a lot of the same confusion I went through in high school really helped me.
8. Which books and authors in the past have influenced you the most?
I have read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby about a dozen times, and I’m not exaggerating. The way he created these fabulous parties that work as a thin veil to cover something gritty underneath is something that definitely inspires me. I’m influenced by many different genres of both young adult and adult books—from the gorgeous prose in White Oleander by Janet Fitch to Anita Blake’s lovable snarkiness in Laurell K. Hamilton’s novels. Books like the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and Fallen by Lauren Kate remind me how sophisticated and downright good young adult books can be.
10. What goals do you hope to set in the future as a writer?
There are currently going to be two more books set in the world of The Flappers, following the characters in a new city and through new intrigues and romantic challenges. I am working on the second one right now, titled Ingenue. After that, who knows! I like working on a lot of things at once and want to try my hand at as many genres and styles as I can. I’m revising an adult novel I’ve been working on since before I started Vixen and just started a dystopian trilogy as well. So the next few years promise to be busy ones!
Librarians have more fun!
Fabulous librarian Rose went all out in celebration of Jillian’s visit.
Let them eat cake.
Jillian and her fans enjoyed a VIXEN cake, courtesy of Coppell Middle School West.
Jillian and adult fans.
After a lovely dinner in the "Speakeasy Room" at Gioco in Chicago.
Jillian poses with students at Coppell Middle School West in Texas.