I am so excited to share my interview with author Kit Frick! Kit Frick is the author of I Killed Zoe Spanos, a YA mystery/thriller which is released today!
I Killed Zoe Spanos is a YA Mystery/Thriller book. What do you like about writing this genre?
I love a good mystery. So I’m naturally drawn to the genre as a reader and consumer of culture, and getting to play in it as a writer is immensely fun. There is something enormously satisfying about building a mystery from scratch (now I have Sarah McLachlan in my head), how it feels like it will never come together, and then it does.
In terms of why I write mystery/thriller books for teens, adolescence still feels easily accessible to me, even though I’m decades past it now. Everything was so emotionally immediate and urgent and pivotal at fifteen, sixteen, seventeen … Those emotional memories stick! Everything already feels like it’s life-or-death when you’re a teen, so as a writer, placing my characters in heightened, thrilling situations that coax those emotional stakes into literal ones feels right and true.
What do you find challenging about writing Mystery/Thrillers?
The same things that I love about them! Haha. Effectively developing red herrings, planting clues, crafting twists and turns in the narrative… this is very fun but also very hard to get right. And I don’t always get it right. But I do love a challenge, and I think the sheer difficulty of the genre is part of what draws me to it as a creator.
Would you ever try writing a different genre? If so, which genre(s) would you try?
I’m also a poet! I have a full-length collection, A Small Rising Up in the Lungs, out from New American Press, as well as two chapbooks (i.e. short collections). I was actually a poet long before I was a novelist, although my energies have been primarily focused on fiction of late.
Within fiction, my next goal is to try a new age category. I’m working on a thriller for the adult market, so that may be on the horizon. Stay tuned!
How was your experience studying creative writing and later obtaining an MFA? How did your formal education contribute to a career as a novelist?
I am a writer who has benefited from a lot of formal education—but stay with me. I studied writing all four years in college, and my college had a really excellent creative writing program, which I immersed myself in. I then went on to get my MFA in poetry several years later.
But here’s the thing: I’ve taken one fiction workshop ever (as an undergraduate) and a couple of craft-focused prose classes, but my formal writing education was 98 percent in poetry. So when it comes to fiction, I’m almost entirely self-taught. This is not to say that there’s no symbiotic relationship between the craft of poetry and prose; there is, of course, and skills I learned in poetry workshops (primarily how to take feedback and sort through it and use it to become a better writer) have certainly benefited my fiction craft as well. But I hate the thought that my formal education in writing might signal in some way to newbie writers that a writing education is the only path or best path toward pursing a writing life, which is not true at all. I learned almost everything I know about writing mysteries from reading mysteries. I learned much of what I know about storytelling from working with other writers as an editor and from watching television. There are many paths.
What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
Read widely in your age category and genre. Get to know the playing field. Seek out trusted readers for your work and listen to their feedback. Know that you don’t have to take every piece of feedback. Revise. Revise more. Remember that publishing is not a meritocracy. There’s a lot of luck and timing involved in getting a book published, and while both of those factors are beyond your control, understanding that they play a key role can help put your experience and others’ in perspective. Also, don’t call yourself “aspiring.” Just do it.
About the Book
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?
About the Author
Kit Frick is a novelist, poet, and MacDowell Colony fellow from Pittsburgh, PA. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. When she isn’t putting complicated characters in impossible situations, Kit edits poetry and literary fiction for a small press and edits for private clients. She is the author of the young adult thrillers I Killed Zoe Spanos, All Eyes on Us, and See All the Stars, all from Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, as well as the poetry collection A Small Rising Up in the Lungs from New American Press. Kit is working on her next novel.
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