‘Fire With Fire’ And An Interview With Jenny Han And Siobhan Vivian!

Ever since I finished the last page of Burn For Burn, the first book in Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s super-exciting trilogy, I’ve been waiting for Fire With Fire. Burn For Burn ended with a cliffhanger, and since I’m not a patient person, waiting was sort of torture. But don’t worry, guys! I come bearing great news–Fire With Fire is out and it’s just as awesome as Burn For Burn!

After their last scheme got a little bit out-of-control, Kat, Lillia and Mary lay low for awhile. But before long, they’re back to their old tricks again (their old tricks being “elaborate revenge plots”). But in between dealing with the jerks at their high school, they still have to handle regular high school stuff, like choosing the right college, getting along with their families and, of course, dudes.

Eventually, things get even more out of control than they did in the first book, and…well, I’m not going to spoil anything for you. Let’s just say that Fire With Fire ends on quite a cliffhanger, and now I’m impatiently waiting for the next book once again.

Until then, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian were nice enough to chat with me about clothes, what we can expect in the next book and (duh) food.

One thing that I noticed about the Burn for Burn books is that the three characters all have very different voices. Kat, Lillia, and Mary always sound totally distinct. Was it difficult to write in three first person voices? Was there ever a time when you wrote something and then were like, “Wait, that character wouldn’t say that!”?

JH: We are in a really good rhythm with the girls now– for Burn for Burn, we split up the three girls fairly equally, because we wanted to have a firm handle on all three girls’ voices. For example, even if I wrote all the Lillia scenes, she still appears in other girls’ POVs, so we both had to know who she was and how she speaks. For Fire with Fire, Siobhan did most of the Mary, I did most of the Lillia, and we split up Kat. But then we trade back and forth, so we both have our hands all over everything.

SV: And I think we’ve had fewer moments of “Wait, she wouldn’t say that!” and lots more “OMG, that’s totally a KAT / MARY / LIL line.”

I loved all the descriptions of the characters’ clothing, especially Lillia’s. It reminded me of how in the Babysitter’s Club books there was always so much detail about Claudia’s wacky outfits (although Lillia’s outfits are much more subdued, obviously!). How much time did you spend thinking about the characters’ clothing choices?

JH: So much time! I loved thinking about Lil’s clothes! I’m glad somebody noticed! I changed her New Years Eve 20’s dress so many times because I wanted it to be exactly right. (It’s vintage, emerald green, with cobwebby strings in the back, the color of Keira Knightly’s dress is Atonement!) I picture Lil’s style as feminine but not fussy, minimalist, she knows what colors and silhouettes work on her because her mom taught her well. Like Jennifer Aniston! Jen knows what she’s working with and doesn’t venture far outside of that. Also it’s so fun to dress someone with a disposable income– she has clothes for days! Also Lillia has access to her mom’s amazing closet, which is designer everything.

SV: Clothing is definitely Jenny’s forte, and it brings so much color to the characters. Unfortunately, it’s not my strong suit, so I mostly put Kat in ripped jeans and flannel shirts. Hahah.

Food is mentioned a lot in the books, specifically Lillia’s love for sweets. What are your go-to snacks when you’re writing?

JH: I like cake. And fresh juices. Also chips and dip.

SV: Iced coffee for me! And I love a good cheese plate.

Although Fire with Fire deals with revenge, it also deals with the more everyday details of high school life, like searching for the right college. Finding the right place to go (or getting in) is pretty stressful for Lillia and Kat. Did you base any of this on your own experiences choosing a college?

JH: For sure. Senior year it’s all anybody thinks about, and it all feels so life and death– like if you make the wrong decision here, you have the potential to make or break your whole life. I think in some ways, Lillia and Kat are a little lucky in that they are isolated on Jar Island. Living in the suburbs, I remember hearing so-and-so from church got into Princeton, and then so-and-so from this other town got into UVA, and it was just an onslaught of who was going where, and what they got on their SATs. On Jar Island, you’re definitely under a microscope, but it’s a small microscope.

SV: I wasn’t the best student in high school, and I only applied to one school (!) so my experience was somewhat like Kat’s desire to be at Oberlin — all or nothing!

Siobhan, I saw on Twitter that you recently had a baby girl! She’s gorgeous—congratulations! How has having a baby changed your writing routine so far? And what books are you most excited to read to your daughter as she grows up?

SV: Aww! Thank you! Baby Viv is only a month old, and I’m slowly getting back into the writing game. In some ways, I’m more productive now than I was before she came along. For example, knowing I only have one nap’s worth of time to get a scene done…well, let’s just say my knowledge of celebrity gossip has waned. And I am basically going to mandate that Viv reads THE LIST by me and all of Jenny’s SUMMER series before she starts high school.

What can readers expect from the final book in the trilogy?

JH: Chills and thrills! Tragic romance! Lots of goodbyes! And most importantly, PROM NIGHT.

SV: Dude, Jar Island’s prom night is going to take your breath away.

And now for the most important question: if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

JH: This is so boring, but bread and butter. There is just nothing more comforting than a roll with sweet butter spread thick on top. I don’t think I could ever get sick of bread and butter.

SV: I’ll second Jenny on the b & b, and add the prerequisite that the roll be ever so slightly warm, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

A HUGE thank you to Jenny and Siobhan for answering my questions! Fire With Fire is out now, so you should all read it…I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did.

As always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

Filed Under