January 26, 2016
Hello readers! Welcome to our Tour Stop for
Heart in a Box by Catherine Stine!
We are so excited to have Catherine on the blog for a quick Q & A.
You can follow the tour by clicking the banner above.
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Each heartbeat leads Joss closer a shocking truth that will change everything.
Joss Olstad wins the fight to switch from her private school to a public high to “find her pieces” she lost when the Indian artist father she never knew died. There, Joss struggles with a slutty friend, who flirts with her new love; Indian Culture Club girls who press her on her past, as well as her stoner mother’s lies back at home. Armed only with her handmade heart boxes that hold private messages, Joss’s search for identity leads her to a scary industrial section of Queens, and a shocking family secret that changes everything.
Thanks so much for taking the time and spending time with us here at Chapter by Chapter!
Thanks so much for having me here. I write YA novels, which range from dark fantasy to futuristic thrillers to contemporary romance. Heart in a Box is my newest novel, though it’s been on the brew for a while. I love my main character, Joss and her world is one that I hope readers will find fascinating. Joss is dealing with a new urban high school in Brooklyn, and a hippie-come-lately mom who smokes a lot of weed, which worries Joss a great deal. When Joss meets Will and falls for him, her world explodes in excitement, adventure and leads her to finding out some very dark family secrets.
Describe your book in 140 characters or less:
Heart in a Box is sweet YA romance. Each heartbeat leads Joss closer to a shocking truth that changes everything.
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
It was a combination of things. I lived in New York City’s East Village for a while and there were a bunch of import-export shops there that also sold bongs and paraphernalia. I started to wonder what it would be like to have a hippie-come-lately mother who smoked a lot of weed and owned this type of store. And then I kept asking “what if” questions. What if the mom also had a side to her that was very overprotective and so the daughter, Joss had to sneak around? And what if Joss had a biracial boyfriend, who the mom was leery of? This led to a series of mom-daughter landmines they had to figure out ways to navigate through. And of course, I wanted to write a really sweet romance between Joss and Will.
Tell us about the main characters
Joss is seventeen. She is a seeker with an artistic streak, as her father did. She has long brown hair with a light streak in it. She’s biracial: half white and half Indian (her dad was from India).
Will, her boyfriend is kind, tall, handsome and loves Joss. He is also biracial: half white and half Puerto Rican. His mom is a high-powered agent for NYC actors, and his dad was a famous actor in soap operas.
Katya is Joss’s new friend. She is very pretty and quite a flirt. She tempts Joss to do some activities that are a bit shady.
Trenton is Will’s best friend. He is a big jokester and incredibly tall. He has a crush on Joss, as Will does, which creates some tension.
Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book?
I have a few. But here ‘s one that speaks to one major theme:
Thoughts on school veer off when I spot the box on my mother’s night table. The box. I know its black, lacquered form by heart. It’s the size of a large jewelry box. My father painted it with Bengali pink roses and a tangle of red cardinal vines. He must’ve used the tiniest brush, as if the objects inside were treasures—emeralds from Mumbai or silk doll clothes from Kancheepuram.
The box sits next to Mom’s organic remedies: tea-tree oil, Saint John’s Wort, aromatherapy ampules, zinc, monster-dose wheat grass capsules. She thinks these keep her functional. But I see how one accelerates her and the next slows her down, adding up to zero. The box is close enough she doesn’t even have to get out of bed in the morning. She can reach, with trembling fingers, light up and space out even before her first cup of black tea.
I crack open the box. Pre-rolled blunts sit like tainted royalty on a plush, purple pillow. Their sharp floral resin makes me sneeze.
Once when I was twelve, Mom offered me a doob after closing the store for the night. She claimed to be worried about how uptight I was getting. It was around the time when I was sprouting zits, boobs, hips and my period. Who wouldn’t be down in the dumps? Mom claimed that if I got stoned I might relax. “Cave women probably used it for cramps, before all these greedy pharmacists crawled on the earth, trying to sell Midol and Tylenol and—”
“Gee, thanks,” I snapped. “Are you serious? You want me to be a stoner too?”
“Darling, I want you to be less anxious, that’s all. I want you to be whoever you want to be,” Mom answered cryptically. “Look, weed is superior to all those anti-depressants shrinks prescribe to kids these days. It won’t poison your liver like Prozac. It’s organic.”
“Arsenic’s organic too,” I argued. Plus, some kids at my school would bounce off the walls without their so-called evil-shrink pills. But maybe I was too stiff. Soon after, I opened the box, took one and lit up. After only two inhales, I felt trapped inside a thick glass room. Then, when I ventured down to the street for a soda, people seemed in a galaxy eons away. It scared me. I vowed not to try it again. How could my mother stand to feel so cut off? Or was it different for her?
Was there a part in the book you had a difficult time writing? If so, why?
It was a challenge to craft the mom-daughter relationship to be close, yet troubled, and then figure out a realistic way to pull them through that. I wanted them to get closer through the struggle, and I also wanted Joss to have the courage to speak up. I think I pulled it off. LOL.
What sort of projects do you have going on? Any new books coming out?
My next novel, launching in 2016 is called Witch of the Cards. It will be out under my pen name Kitsy Clare. To get the news on exact release dates, sales and more YA novel launches, subscribe to my newsletter at catherinestine.com. This site also has Kitsy Clare news.
Here’s a summary of Witch of the Cards:
Witch of the Cards is historical, supernatural romantic suspense set in 1932 on the Jersey shore. Twenty-two year-old Fiera has recently left the Brooklyn orphanage where she was raised, and works in Manhattan as a nanny. She gets a lucky break when her boss pays for her short vacation in Asbury Park. One evening, Fiera and her new friend Dulcie wander down the boardwalk and into Peter Dune’s Tarot & Séance, where they attend a card reading.
Fiera has always had an unsettling ability to know things before they happen and sense people’s hidden agendas. She longs to either find out the origin of her powers or else banish them because as is, they make her feel crazy. When, during the reading, her energies somehow bond with Peter Dune’s and form an undeniable ethereal force, a chain of revelations and dangerous events begin to unspool. For one, Fiera finds out she is a witch from a powerful sea clan, but that someone is out to stop her blossoming power forever. And though she is falling in love with Peter, he also has a secret side. He’s no card reader, but a private detective working to expose mediums. Despite this terrible betrayal, Fiera must make the choice to save Peter from a tragic Morro Cruise boat fire, or let him perish with his fellow private investigators. Told in alternating viewpoints, we hear Fiera and Peter each struggle against their deep attraction. Secrets, lies, even murder, lace this dark fantasy.
It was great having you on the blog. We hope you’ll stop by again, and we wish you much success.
I will, thanks so much, it was big fun. I love hearing from readers so I encourage you all to keep in touch. If you read Heart in a Box, I look forward to your take on it. I will be at several book conventions in 2016 including Roanoke Author Explosion, Utopia and RT Booklovers, so get all the news at my website. Hugs and Happy New Year!
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