Historically Crushed: Jillian Larkin on Jay Gatsby
Young Adult Romance Authors share their biggest historical crushes with RomanceatRandom readers. Today we hear from Jillian Larkin, author of The Flappers Series.
I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for the first time when I was fourteen. I was assigned to read the book for my Freshman English class. Between dress rehearsals for the school play and a solo in an upcoming choir concert, I didn’t even have a chance to open the book until the night before the test. But that didn’t stop me from falling head over heels in love with the story. I finished reading the book just as my alarm went off to wake me up in the morning. Once I took the test, came home, and got the rest I so desperately needed, I promptly began The Great Gatsby for the second of what would eventually become a whopping twelve times.
I always find something new to adore upon each new reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous work. But what, or rather who, I’ve loved most ever since those first sleepless midnight hours in high school is Jay Gatsby himself. At fourteen I was carried away by the romantic notion of a man who would build such riches for himself, all for the woman he loved. It didn’t hurt that he was also beautiful, charmingly called everyone “old sport,” and could throw one hell of a party.
As I got older I began to recognize the sadness and desperation that shrouded Gatsby’s quest to win back his beloved Daisy, but that only made me love poor old Jay even more. It also made me want to scream at Daisy, “What are you doing?! I know Gatsby’s probably in the mob or whatever, but still—he did all of this for you. With a man who loves you that much throwing himself at you, you would really still rather be with a racist, philandering lump of a man like Tom? Really?!”
When I was twenty-one I started to get that familiar hankering for some time alone with my favorite lovelorn blonde. I wanted to get lost in the glitz and glamour of his parties, dancing the Charleston and drinking martinis. But did I really want to read the same book yet again? Even I had my limits. So instead I decided to start my own series about the 1920s. Gatsby wouldn’t be there, but the sparkling dresses and bouncing jazz that filled his world would be.
When it came time to write Diva, the final book in The Flappers series, I knew I wanted to pay homage in some way to my longtime literary crush. So I sent Gloria to Great Neck (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s former home and inspiration for West Egg) to spy on a mysterious millionaire named Forrest Hamilton. No one quite knows how Forrest got his fortune, and that’s what Gloria has to find out.
Now that I’ve finished The Flappers series, I do believe I finally am ready to read The Great Gatsby for the thirteenth time. You get the shaker and the olives, Jay, and I’ll bring the gin and vermouth.
|Jillian Larkin’s fascination with flappers and the 1920s began during her childhood, which included frequent home screenings of the classic Julie Andrews/Carol Channing film Thoroughly Modern Millie. She lives in New York.|