Title: Invisible Fault Lines
Author: Kristen-Paige Madonia
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 3, 2016
From the author of Fingerprints of You, whom Judy Blume calls “a remarkable young novelist,” comes a compelling and lyrical novel that explores how one teen rebuilds her life after everything seems lost.
My father disappeared on a Tuesday that should’ve been like any Tuesday, but eventually became the Tuesday my father disappeared.
Tired of living in limbo, Callie finally decides to investigate her father’s disappearance for herself. Maybe there was an accident at the construction site that he oversaw? Maybe he doesn’t remember who he is and is lost wandering somewhere? But after seeing a familiar face in a photo from the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, she wonders if the answer is something else entirely.
Kayla: Hi, Kristen-Paige! Thank you so much for coming back to Bibliophilia, Please and talking to us again! What have you been up to since the last time you were here?
Kristen-Paige Madonia: I made a person! My husband and I welcomed our son into the world in 2013, and it really changed EVERYTHING. Every single cliché you hear about being a parent – about seeing the world through new eyes, about all the ways parenthood shifts your perspective and priorities, about the endless rewards and challenges… it’s all true. So I’ve been working hard at trying to be present and enjoying time with my son. I’ve also been teaching a variety of university and high school courses and workshops and, of course, I wrote another book.
Kayla: Invisible Fault Lines will be releasing next week. What was the most interesting piece of information you found while doing research for the novel?
Never in a millions years would I have imagined writing historical fiction, and then, once I had the idea, there was no going back. While only a portion of Invisible Fault Lines is dedicated to historical fiction, I became fully engaged with that element of the novel and threw myself into the research one hundred percent. Some of the most interesting information I found during my research of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake involved the political climate during that time, though most of that information didn’t end up in the book. I also learned a great deal about “ambiguous loss,” or the process of grieving the disappearance of a person who may or may not be alive. It’s a completely different process than grieving the dead, and I read a lot of testimonials by people who had experienced such loss. There’s an unresolved emotional state that is distinct from traditional grief, and that was really interesting to me. I was in the midst of revisions for Invisible Fault Lines when Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went missing, and I thought a lot about the ways we manage that particular kind of trauma, about the ways we cope with loss when there are no answers, and about living with a loved one’s disappearance. So that was also incredibly interesting, researching ambiguous loss.
Kayla: Your debut novel, Fingerprints of You, came out almost four years ago. Has your process changed any in writing your new book, Invisible Fault Lines?
Kristen-Paige: I know -- I’m such a slow writer! And that’s certainly something that hasn’t changed. I might write a first draft quickly, but the revision process -- the rewrites and adding and cutting and editing -- that takes so very long. But yes, the process of writing this book was much different. Fingerprints of You had a fairly straightforward narrative arc; there was nothing complicated about the timeline, so I wrote the first draft of the book start to finish in about 5 weeks. I wrote forward without stopping while working as a resident artist at The Studios of Key West. I call that kind of writing binge writing -- no looking back. Just putting the words on the page. But as a new mother, I didn’t have the luxury to binge write this book; I didn’t have the option to sneak away to a residency and fully immerse myself in the world of the novel. There are multiple narrative arcs and a more complex timeline in Invisible Fault Lines, so writing this book was inevitably a more complicated process. Essentially, there are two storylines: the contemporary mystery set in San Francisco in 2006, and the historical fiction sections set in 1906. And though I initially tried to write from start to finish with no looking back, it simply didn’t work. Eventually I had to begin again and write the novel out of order, pulling the historical strand out of the central story and composing it on its own. It was strange and difficult and the first time I’ve ever written that way, but in the end it was liberating to “break the rules.” In the end it taught me that every book requires something different of you, no matter how much you’ve studied and practiced the craft. Each book is a new process. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Kayla: Do you have any unique writing habits while you are working?
Kristen-Paige: Lots of coffee. And chocolate. Reading: I take lots of mini-breaks while I’m writing to reread published passages of fiction that I believe are beautiful and successful. And disenabling my Internet. Listening to music and doing yoga or spending time outdoors to regroup when I’m losing my way. Did I already say coffee? All. Day. Long.
Kayla: Which book(s) would you say have had the biggest effect on you as a writer?
Kristen-Paige: I always return to the Outsiders when people ask about my influences as a writer. That was the book that taught me about writing against the concept of “Write what you know,” which I really don’t believe in. The most powerful work is rooted in emotional truth or experience: love, loss, curiosity, etc., but I don’t believe we should limit ourselves to only write about external experiences we’ve had. You can write a book about teen pregnancy without having been a pregnant teen, for example, if you fully understand the character and all the ways the central conflict might challenge and change and shape them. And the Outsiders taught me that. I fell in the love with that book when I first read it, and I had absolutely no connection to the external conflicts of the novel. But the best books connect the reader to the story by connecting them to the characters’ internal struggles, regardless of the reader’s own experiences, and the Outsiders really drove that home for me. The importance of emotional truth versus external incidents. Great Expectations is another one that also comes to mind. That book stole my heart at an important time in my life, and each time I read it, it’s different and equally significant.
Kayla: Are there any 2016 releases that you are excited to read or enjoyed reading already?
Kristen-Paige: I’m really looking forward to reading Meg Medina’s new novel Burn, Baby, Burn. She’s a beautiful author and a wonderful friend of mine, and it’s been so exciting to see what she’s done for the We Need Diverse Books movement. The novel came out last month and is at the top of my stack on my nightstand.
Kayla: Finally, do you have any upcoming projects after Invisible Fault Lines about which we can get excited?
Kristen-Paige: I do! I’m working on a new novel that is completely wonderful and mysterious and bizarre. I’m about half-way through my first draft and still feeling very protective of the project, but I can say that it’s set on the east coast, revolves around a brother and sister relationship, and writing it has been my way of trying to process how I feel about our culture’s growing reliance on technology. Like my other two books did when I was working on the first draft, it feels fresh and raw and risky, and I think that’s a good sign for this stage in the process.
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About the Author
Kristen-Paige Madonia is the author of the young adult novels Invisible Fault Lines (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016) and Fingerprints of You (Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2012). Her short stories have been published in various literary magazines including FiveChapters, the New Orleans Review, the Greensboro Review, and America Fiction: Best Previously Unpublished Stories by Emerging Authors. She has received awards or fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, VCCA, Hedgebrook, Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Key West Literary Seminar. She was the 2012 D.H. Lawrence Fellow and was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize in 2010. She holds an MFA in fiction from California State University, Long Beach and currently lives in Charlottesville, Va. She is a member of the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA Writing Program faculty and also teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia, James Madison University, and WriterHouse.
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Thanks to the very sweet Kristen-Paige Madonia and Simon & Schuster, I have a copy of Invisible Fault Lines up for grabs!
Ends at 12:01am CST on May 10th
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