Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR/Macmillan
Pub. 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.
Kim Savage is the author of the critically acclaimed After the Woods. A former reporter who received her Master’s degree with honors in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim lives north of Boston near the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods, and she grew up near a quarry town a lot like the Bismuth of Beautiful Broken Girls, in stores Feb. 21. Kim’s third novel with FSG, In Her Skin (2018), is based in Boston’s Back Bay, where she has never lived.
Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn’t.
What inspired you to write Beautiful Broken Girls?
I'd long wanted to write a story about the male gaze and how it affects everything. As I started to write, though, a gaze became a touch, and it wasn’t limited to males. Moreover, it set off a kind of Butterfly Effect. Mira and Francesca’s jump off the ledge was precipitated by a series of touches: a coach and his athlete; a girl and her forbidden lover; a girl and her cousin; and a girl and her god.
Do you have any habits or rituals you do while writing?
Depends on how it’s going. If it’s going well, I bang excessively at the keyboard and whisper. If it’s not, I leave my seat and wander around, bothering my kids, dog: any nearby victim.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors regarding overcoming writer's block?
I’d say read Steven Pressfield’s theories on resistance. I’m not sure Writer’s Block is really a thing or just the world making noise and us listening.
Wow, that sounded cranky!
If you had to write under a nom de plume, what name would you pick and why?
Kim Haas. It’s my unmarried name. I changed Haas to my middle name when I got married. When I became a reporter, I found I liked the Savage byline. I was sick of everyone mispronouncing Haas; Savage was easy and memorable. This last year has made me think about going back to using my given name. Not coincidentally, maybe, In Her Skin, which will release in 2018, is about the danger of forgetting who you are.
Has the publication and/or writing process changed at all from your first book to the second one?
My books are all with Janine O’Malley at FSG, who is consistently amazing to work with. My writing process has changed in that I’m faster at getting the bones down. That’s super important to me, because revision is where the real work starts. The fun, too!
What kind of research did you have to do while writing Beautiful Broken Girls? Furthermore, what's the weirdest thing you've ever had to Google for a book?
So much! I’m looking at my search history in the “Beautiful Broken Girls” folder right now. Topics include: Bodies Recovered From Water, Gory Catholic Saint Stories, and How Stuff Works: Rock Climbing Equipment.
I also spent a lot of time in rock quarries in New Hampshire and Vermont. By the third one, my kids were on their phones.
Do you find it easier or harder to write from the perspective of your own, or a different gender?
I identify as female, but I don't find it harder to write from a male perspective. I write the character my story requires and get inside that person’s head. If I’m having trouble with a character’s perspective, I’ve probably written the wrong character for the story.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your teenage self about writing?
Start earlier and don't get distracted by the voices that say traditional publishing is impossible to crack. You've wanted to do this—and only this—since you could read and write. Eyes on the prize, Monkey Child.
Can you tell us anything about what you're working on now? What's next for you?
In Her Skin (FSG/2018) is a psychological thriller set in Boston’s Back Bay. It’s the story of Jolene Chastain, a con artist who assumes the identity of a dead girl, Vivienne Weir, and moves in with a wealthy developer, his wife, and daughter. In Her Skin is about identity, obsession, what it means to have a family, and what it means to be a con. Jo is totally unique and my favorite character to date. I can’t wait for readers to meet her.