On Classic Movies In How We Fall

Below is a really fun interview Kiersi from over at The Prolific Novelista did with me!

I’m so excited to have author Kate Brauning and her debut YA novel, HOW WE FALL, on the blog today! She’s got some really fun, exclusive content for us.


I was lucky enough to get an ARC of HOW WE FALL, which I reviewed on Goodreads. It’s thrilling, emotional, fast-paced and un-put-downable. I may have cried a couple times.

One thing that features prominently in the novel are classic movies, so I decided to ask Kate a couple questions about how they found their way into HOW WE FALL.

  1. How did you personally get into classic movies?

When I was growing up, we frequently had family movie nights– something all seven of us could do together. But since my mother used to insist nothing good was made after 1960, that meant we watched a lot of classic movies. Musicals, especially. Men in suits, smoky bars, lavish parties with women in Grace Kelly gowns. Political intrigue, heady romance, subtle, character-driven stories. In some ways, I think it skewed my perception of adulthood, but I also learned to watch the stories carefully.

  1. So, in HOW WE FALL, Jackie absolutely adores her classic movies—is this characteristic, by chance, a reflection of you? Because she sure seems to know a lot of them, and a lot about them. ;)

I love a good story well-told, and that means there are a lot of classic and modern movies I love, but I particularly liked the classics for Jackie as a way for her to sort through her life.

As a teen (and even earlier), we watched Singing in the Rain, White Christmas, and The Sound of Music, of course, but also The King and I and My Fair Lady. The somewhat taboo relationships of those last two caught my interest even then. The boundaries and hurdles between the main characters fascinated me. Roman Holiday, actually, was another favorite of mine with a taboo love story, but I also really hated it the first few times I saw it. It enraged my optimistic teen self that the writers didn’t find a way for Princess Anne and Joe Bradley to be together. I thought it was ridiculously unfair, even though the tragedy of it makes more sense to me now, and I’ve learned to love an edge of tragedy in a story. I didn’t know it at the time, but even as a twelve-year-old girl my brain was gathering up material that would one day make it into How We Fall.

I also fell in love with Rear Window and Jimmy Stewart, and that was my introduction to Hitchcock, which was less my mother’s taste, but definitely mine. The symbolism and tragedy and obsession in Hitchcock’s work made a huge impression on me as a teenager, and I started looking for that in both my reading and my writing. I also learned to love sharp wit and black humor– Walter Matthau and Rex Harrison are always fun to watch, and to this day I don’t think I’ve seen anything funnier than William Powell’s Life With Father.

  1. Why do you like them? Are your reasons the same as Jackie’s?

Great question. I gave classic films to Jackie as a way to think through her life, partially because the slower pace and the more traditional, old-fashioned lifestyle fits with what Jackie wishes she had. Her combined family is loud and chaotic, and living in an earth-sheltered home with somewhat hippie parents draws too much attention for an introverted, uprooted teen to enjoy. But as she digs into these movies, she starts to realize so many of those stories deal with the same things she’s working through, even forbidden or taboo relationships. The parallels help her figure out what she wants out of life.

What I enjoy in my favorite classic films is the same thing I enjoy about great story in general—a gripping character, sharp wit, and a story that makes me think.

  1. What’s your favorite film of all time, and why?

That’s about like asking me what my favorite book is. Narrowing it down is tough. One of my definite favorites, though, is Stranger Than Fiction, with Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson. It’s has a fun angle on an author’s life, sure, but more than that, I love a story that works a character toward fully living life, and this one does it with unexpected depth and charm. I love the way it tackles the idea of killing of characters, too, and it’s so wonderfully funny and hopeful and thought-provoking.

Thank you so much for appearing on the blog today, Kate! I have to agree with you on Stranger Than Fiction. That’s one of my all-time favorite movies, too!


I originally wrote this post for The Prolific Novelista as part of my blog tour for my book release– I wrote about 30 posts that went up on different sites over November and December, and with all that content out there, I’d like to keep it all in one place, so I’m posting it here for archiving purposes. Hope you enjoyed!

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