Hi friends, happy Monday! This is not an usual posting day, but friends, I AM OVER THE MOON today because I get to talk about an amazing book I recently fell in love with called, Small Town Hearts.
The biggest thanks to the amazingly sweet Lili for inviting me to take part in this blog tour!
The official banner for the blog tour was designed by the wonderful Mana, feel free to check out her amazing portfolio right here!
If I’m dreaming of screaming about Small Town Hearts in a gushing, adoring review and I’m definitely going to do that later on, today I have something really fun planned out. I got the chance to chat with Lillie Vale, the author of this wonderful debut, so… keep on reading to find out more about her book, her writing, her amazing characters and… yes, CAKE.
Can you share with us the moment that it actually hit you, that you were going to be a published author? When was it? (holding an ARC, seeing your name being announced by Swoon Reads, a reader talking about it….?)
Hi, Marie! Thanks so much for hosting me 🙂 Everyone else: Hi! I’m Lillie Vale, the author of YA contemporary Small Town Hearts.
Oh my gosh, so many things really helped it sink in. Definitely the official Swoon Reads’ announcement, holding an ARC for the first time, but also a lot of little things. Conversing with some of YA’s superstars, getting followed (!!! cue fangirl screaming !!!) by them, making friends with the same people whose books I devoured pre-debut. It’s surreal to feel like part of “the club” with so many other authors I respect and adore. Every time I see a reviewer, media outlet, or fellow author talk about Small Town Hearts, it feels even more real. I will never tire of that feeling.
What did you use to inspire yourself to write the book, both for the setting and the characters? Some particular stories, movies, places in the world that inspired you, or even some songs?
Ha! The origin story for Small Town Hearts is actually pretty funny. At least, I think it is! Going into the book, I only knew I wanted a slightly sad, very cute artist to wash up on the coast of Maine and fall in love with a local girl. Babe, the main character of Small Town Hearts, got her name because I was playing around with quirky nicknames and thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be a hoot if her full name was Barbara, but everyone calls her Babe, and Levi (the new summer boy in town) mistakenly (read: hilariously) thinks everyone is hitting on her, like, ALL the time?” Babe’s name inspired the story for Small Town Hearts 100%.
This foodie, messy friendship, bi book of my heart evolved from there! For readers who are less familiar with Small Town Hearts…It’s a BFF breakup + found family novel taking place in the summer after high school, the last summer 19yo bi baking barista Babe thinks she’ll have before her friends start college in the fall. She has a somewhat co-dependent relationship with the people she loves, and change has never been a good thing, in her experience, so she’s trying to hold on tight during a time when she has to learn how to let go. Matters are further complicated when her ex-girlfriend returns to their sleepy Maine village of Oar’s Rest at the same time as a mysterious summer boy shows up to rent Babe’s mom’s cottage on the beach.
I adored creating the world of Babe’s beloved Oar’s Rest (the lighthouse!! the beach cave!! the Busy Bean!!). Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved the small towns that never felt small. The places with a unique culture that felt larger than life. My earliest examples were author-illustrator Richard Scarry’s Busytown and Arthur’s Elwood City. With these charming idylls and every beach town I’d ever been to as inspiration, it came as no surprise that Oar’s Rest became the small town of my dreams!
Something I love about Babe, the main character, is how passionate she is about what she does. I also find it really interesting that she does not want to go to college. Do you think these kind of narratives – being driven by passion, not having to necessarily turn to a college-path – are important to show off in young adult books?
Yes! Very much so. I think, as important as it is to show characters driven and striving toward their goals and academic success, it’s also important to spotlight characters who are content to stay where they are. To most people, traditional “success”, however they define it, usually involves a college degree. For Babe, who is already part of the work force, remaining at the Busy Bean coffee shop is not only a pragmatic choice, but also a passionate one. Busy’s is her home away from home. She loves making coffee and serving her yummy treats to her friends and regulars, and hopes to make Tom, her grandfather-figure and boss, an offer on Busy’s when she’s saved up enough. He would love keeping Busy’s in the family!
What has been your favorite part about writing Small Town Hearts? Any favorite moments you wrote, passages or crafting some particular characters or settings?
How people relate to their environment, especially a microcosm like Oar’s Rest with its own distinct culture and personality, has always appealed to me. I wanted to zero in on a friendship that’s always had a status quo, where the characters only knew who they were as individuals insofar as who they were relative to their friends. What would happen when those characters were in a period of transition (high school to college) and that status quo was threatened?
“There was safety in things staying the same. A year from now, five years from now, all I wanted was for us to be the same, doing things together, being the people we’d always been. I didn’t want to be the kind of friends who drifted apart after high school, the kind who could live in the same town and still be strangers. I didn’t want to think about fall and college and uncertainties.” (pg. 17)
Have you been working on something new lately? Any adorable contemporaries…. Or maybe books in other genres, we can expect at some point? 🙂
Nothing to share just yet, but it feels unbelievable to dive back into drafting mode! Sometimes I think I’ll never have the time to write all my WIPs, but darned if I’m not going to try!
There are a lot of delicious food and cakes in Small Town Hearts, so I have to ask: do you have a favorite cake?
Unlike Babe, I don’t have a tremendous sweet tooth, but when I do crave cake, carrot cake is my ALL TIME FAVORITE. I also really, really adore Black Forest and German chocolate (ahem, aka the cake Babe is trying to get Levi to try in chapter one).
Marie here: by the way this delicious picture is a Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) and… it’s one of my favoriteeeeeeeeeeeeees.
Can you share with us one book you recently discovered and LOVED?
I recently read The Curses, the much-anticipated followup to Laure Eve’s The Graces. I stayed up into the wee hours to devour it in one sitting! It didn’t go quite the way I expected, but the ending was super satisfying!
📖 More about Small Town Hearts
Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy.
Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.
And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?
📖 More about the author, Lillie Vale
Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many U.S. states, and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen. She is the author of Small Town Hearts.
Find Lillie Vale on :
Check out the full blog tour schedule right here for guest posts, interviews, aesthetics and creative posts!
Lily (Sprinkles of Dreams) – guest post
Marie (Drizzle & Hurricane Books) – interview
Eloise (Eloise Writes) – review + aesthetic
Simant (Flipping Through the Pages) – review + creative
Elin (Annotated Paperbacks) – creative
Nandini (Unputdownable Books) – Creative
Santana (Santana Reads) – review + character aesthetics
Danielle (Bookish in Texas) – interview
Laura (Green Tea & Paperbacks) – creative
Sofia (Bookish Wandress) – review + a playlist
Ashley (Bubbly Booknerd) – creative
Lauren (Bookmark Lit) – review + creative
Victoria (The Contented Reader) – interview + review
Morgan (The Bookish Beagle) – review + creative
Fanna (Fannatality) review + creative
Syndney (Syndneys.books) – creative bookstagram
Fadwa (Word Wonders) – review
Tiffany (Read by Tiffany) – creative
Haley (Fangirl Fury) – review + creative
Romie (Romie We Deserve Love) – creative
Do you want to read Small Town Hearts? (If not before, I hope that after this post, you do!!) Did you read it already?
Let me know your thoughts in comments!