Hey Katelyn! Thank you so much for inviting me to write a Valentine’s Day post on Bookshelf Sophisticate (which, as you already know, is one of my favorite blogs)!
Valentine’s is such a fascinating holiday, don’t you think? What other day can get some people hot—and leave others feeling homicidal? And lets be honest—it’s not really a holiday, is it? I guess back in the fifteenth century it must have been kind of sweet. But now it’s just an opportunity for giant corporations to guilt-trip us into buying more diamonds/ cards/ lingerie/ chocolate syrup. (Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with all this.)
So what does Valentine’s Day have to do with my new book, How to Lead a Life of Crime? Well it just so happens that homicide, capitalism, and true love were all on my mind as I was writing it.
It’s a very angry novel. The financial crisis was front page-news while I was typing away. I saw what was (and is) going on in America, and it made me extremely mad. Just a few years ago, an elite group of criminals came very close to destroying our country. And the young people for whom I write books will be the ones who end up paying for all those villains’ misdeeds.
Most of How to Lead a Life of Crime takes place at the Mandel Academy—a school for young criminals that’s based on a real institution that existed in my hometown (New York City) at the end of the nineteenth century. The Mandel Academy is a breeding ground for the kind of cheaters, conmen and sociopaths who are robbing America blind. What happens to the school’s students (particularly those who aren’t able to compete) isn’t pretty—which is one reason why my book is definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that How to Lead a Life of Crime is dark and bloody. (As you’d imagine, its language is quite crude as well.) So you might be surprised to hear that the novel is also (in my opinion) an extremely touching love story. It’s certainly the best romance I’ve ever written. The relationship between the two heroes, Flick and Joi is like an amazing flower sprouting out of the muck. I didn’t intend to add a romance to the plot. It just appeared one day while I was writing—and then it kept on growing and growing.
Flick, the narrator, is a pickpocket who’s been living on the streets of New York. Joi is the founder of a “colony” of street kids. They’ve both seen and experienced things that would destroy most people. And once the Mandel Academy comes into their lives, the situation gets even worse. But as Joi informs Flick, sometimes all you need to survive is ONE GOOD THING. Joi knows what hers is. And by the end of the book, Flick’s finally found his, too.
** Thank you so much for stopping by and if any of you guys haven't checked out Kirsten's books yet, head on over and get yourself a copy a.s.a.p.!!!