Kit Frick is a novelist, poet, and MacDowell Colony fellow. Originally 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, edits for private clients, and mentors emerging writers through Pitch Wars. Her debut young adult novel is See All the Stars (Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, August 14, 2018), and her debut full-length poetry collection is A Small Rising Up in the Lungs (New American Press, September 4, 2018).
Hi, Kit! I’m so glad you agreed to do this interview!
So **cracks knuckles** let’s get this started!
Intense and volatile female friendships are a major theme in your book. What inspired this? Also, what are some of your favorite books (or other media)that explore this topic?
KIT: It’s been my experience—and the experience of many women in my life—that friendships between women in adolescence and early adulthood are rarely simple. They’re intense—intensely good, intensely close, intensely consuming, intensely critical,intensely imbued with meaning, intensely fraught with the trappings of personal identity formation and navigating an often unforgiving social world.
The friendships between Ellory and Ret (and among Ellory and Ret and their other friends) in See All the Stars are by no means autobiographical, but those character relationships do feel very personal to me, as the nuances of the friendships that populated my high school and young adult years are still so vivid, even today. I think this is the case for many women—current teens and young adults and fully-adult-adults. We feel those friendships deeply. They’re heightened in both our experience and our memory.
There are so many rich, nuanced fictional representations of friendships among teen girls in books and other media. A few YA novels that really get at the heart of things are Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi, Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul, and A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo. One adult novel that absolutely knocked my socks off for its portrayal of a volatile teen girl friendship is Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. On television, an evergreen favorite (of yours and mine!) is My So-Called Life, and more recently I’ve loved Pretty Little Liars for its heightened—and at times hyperbolic—yet still identifiable portrayal of a friend group with high highs and very low lows.
SEE ALL THE STARS is set in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and having lived near there myself, I really appreciated all the regional details that you included! For you, to what extent does setting influence storytelling?
KIT: I’m so thrilled you connected with the central Pennsylvania setting! I find setting to be extremely important as a writer; writing setting is almost like writing another character. For See All the Stars, I chose a setting that was “teenage-adjacent” for me; in other words, I grew up in Pittsburgh, which is in southwestern PA, and I wanted to be able to tap into that Pennsylvania landscape for my debut without tying myself too closely to the “reality” of my own adolescent stomping grounds.
So far, I’ve chosen settings with which I have a personal connection for all my projects. My second book is set primarily in West Virginia, in a fictional region of the panhandle modeled closely after Fayette County, PA, which is geographically very nearby despite being in a different state, and there are also a few scenes in Pittsburgh! My work-in-progress is set in New York City, where I live now, and south Florida, where I’ve spent
quite a bit of time visiting family. I’ve stayed close to my personal experience in all these books so that I can bring in the details that will bring the setting vividly to life on the page, and also so I can allow the setting to have its influence on the characters and how they move through the world.
Ah, very exciting to hear about these new settings! I’m super fascinated by Florida, which I’ve found to be such a fascinating mix of urban and depressed spaces within some amazing natural beauty.
Okay, next question…
I was really struck by how beautifully written your book was, so I was delighted to discover that you also have a book of poetry scheduled to come out this fall. Do you find that there are synergies for you writing in these two literary forms? Do you see yourself ever writing a YA novel in verse?
KIT: Thank you so much! And yes, my first book of poetry, A Small Rising Up in the Lungs, releases this fall from New American Press, which is very exciting.
I developed an ear for diction and tone through studying poetry—both through reading and writing. In some ways, the two forms require very different compartments of my writer’s “toolbox.” When I’m plotting and structuring a novel, I’m using my creative brain in a very different way than when I’m drafting a poem. But when it comes to sentence-level concerns (how a sentence sounds, how it works with the sentences that precede and follow, how the choice of a specific verb or modifier can work to create mood or suggest a specific understanding) that’s where my brain is tapping into my poetic background.
And I love YA novels in verse! I recently got my hands on an advanced copy of Juleah del Rosario’s 500 Words or Less, which is coming out in September from Simon Pulse, and it’s sooooooo good! Whether or not I will attempt to “combine forces” and write my own novel in verse remains to be seen, but I can’t say I’ve never thought about it!
The road to being published is a long and complicated one for many writers. Now that you’re on the verge of your novel being launched, what have been some of your favorite moments in your debut journey?
KIT: There have been a lot of amazing moments along the way. Most days I’m still
pinching myself. It’s a classic answer, but receiving that offer of representation from my agent, Erin Harris, was the first amazing milestone moment. I was at work, at my former job at NYU, and I almost started crying at my desk. Then receiving the offer of publication from my editor, Ruta Rimas at McElderry, a few months later was surreal. For that one, I was at a writing residency at the MacDowell Colony, without any cell service and very limited internet, so just connecting with my agent and future publisher about the offer was a kind of epic feat. From there, the day the initial cover design landed in my inbox, the day the book went up for pre-order, connecting with all the amazing authors in my debut group—like you!—and attending launch parties for fellow debuts, learning the book would be sold in-store in Target, receiving those first excited emails from readers … It’s been an amazing whirlwind.
Last—but not least!—can you tell me anything about your next project?
KIT: My next book is a YA thriller about two girls under unbearable pressure from their families and communities—and what happens when they decide to stop compromising. I just reviewed my copyedits and got them turned in, which means the manuscript is being typeset now, which is very exciting. It’s scheduled to come out in summer 2019, also from Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books, and I’ll be able to share a lot more about it later this year!
Thanks so much, that sounds utterly tantalizing!
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