Author Crush Friday with Kit Frick
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to poet, author, and MacDowell Colony fellow, Kit Frick, who is the author of the new young adult thriller novel, I Killed Zoe Spanos (June 30, 2020; Margaret K. McElderry Books). Thank you for talking to us today, Kit! We’re honored! If you haven’t picked up I Killed Zoe Spanos yet, run, don’t walk, to grab it because who doesn’t love a good addictive thriller?! Pick up a copy of I Killed Zoe Spanos and you’ll find out why.
GLITTER: Tell us five random facts about yourself.
1) After nearly twenty years in New York, I now live back in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA—in the house where I grew up!
2) I’m the pet parent to two adorable cats and a very snuggly Chiweenie.
3) I’ve seen Back to the Future at least twenty-five times (mostly during the same summer, soon after we got a VCR).
4) I love mysteries and thrillers (obviously) but I am a giant scaredy cat when it comes to horror.
5) According to family legend, I’m distantly related to William Faulkner. (Allegedly.)
GLITTER: Tell us about your journey to become a writer. From first draft to getting an agent to the book you have now.
KIT: Oh wow. I’ll give you the condensed version or we could be here all night! J I was always a creative child, although I mostly channeled that into theater as a teen. I began writing seriously in college and went on to get my MFA (in poetry, not fiction!) a few years later. So I have lots of formal writing education, but I’m mostly self-taught when it comes to fiction.
My debut novel, See All the Stars, was the second novel I’d written. (The first lives on my hard drive, where it shall remain.) I queried See All the Stars for about three months before signing with my agent, Erin Harris. After signing with Erin, we revised quite a bit, then she put the novel on submission to publishers, and it sold to McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in a two-book deal. That second book, All Eyes on Us, came out last year in 2019. While all that was happening, I wrote a draft of I Killed Zoe Spanos, and we again sold that to McElderry in a two-book deal. I’m so excited to be launching it into the world this summer!
GLITTER: How would you describe I Killed Zoe Spanos to a new reader?
KIT: Think YA Rebecca set in the Hamptons with a true crime podcast. When Anna Cicconi confesses to playing a role in the death of local teen Zoe Spanos, she’s charged with manslaughter and concealing a body. 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?
GLITTER: What one question sparked the birth of I Killed Zoe Spanos?
KIT: When the idea for the story was bouncing around in my head, I’d recently re-read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca for the fourth (fifth?) time and couldn’t help wondering: What if Rebecca de Winter had gone missing today, in the age of Serial and The Vanished and Bear Brook and all the other excellent true crime podcasts that have sprung up over the last five years? From there, I Killed Zoe Spanos was born.
GLITTER: Did you always want to be an author? Did you ever feel like giving up? Did you receive rejection letters in the beginning? How did you get over them?
KIT: As a teen, I wanted to be an actor, but I fell in love with writing in college and swapped one difficult, angsty creative ambition for another.
I’ve received plenty of rejection letters. We all have; even mega bestsellers and award-winners have received their fair share of rejection, so developing a thick skin early on is a very good life skill if you want to pursue a path toward publication. When I was seeking agent representation for my debut novel, I sent queries to 45 agents. (I had to look that up! Revisiting that spreadsheet was a trip.) And of those 45 agents, 3 offered representation, which means I got 42 rejections. Similarly when we took See All the Stars out on submission to publishers, editors from two houses submitted offers to buy it, but everywhere else passed. (“Passed” is the politic publishing way of saying “rejected,” btw.) Having many, many offers (of agent representation or of publication) is by far the exception and not the rule, and I knew enough about publishing going in to know that everyone was not going to love my book baby. Rejection still—always—stings, but making your peace with it early on will save you a lot of grief as a creative professional.
GLITTER: Do you have any crazy writing rituals?
KIT: I don’t know if I have any specific “procrastination rituals” that I need to complete before I start, or like a specific candle I need to have burning or anything like that, however I write best when I’m free from the commitments and distractions of my day job and from the “business” side of being a writer (i.e. promotion, publicity, and so forth). So I don’t do freelance work or respond to work emails over the weekend, which helps me clear my head and make the space I need for creativity.
GLITTER: Do you think a good thriller needs to keep the reader on their toes, and keep them guessing until the last word? Can they end on a cliffhanger at all?
KIT: As a reader, I do want to be kept on my toes, although there are so many different types of thrillers (survival thrillers, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, and so on) that each book will have its own way of generating tension and suspense in the narrative.
I think cliffhangers only work in specific instances where there’s going to be a sequel or series (and even then the first book should be able to stand alone, while leaving some threads hanging) but that being said, I love books that end on a note of ambiguity. I want an ending to deliver on answering the major questions posed throughout the book, but if not absolutely everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow, that lingering sense of disquiet can be delicious.
GLITTER: What is one thing you can’t write without?
KIT: Water! I drink water constantly throughout the work day. Gotta stay hydrated!
GLITTER: What is one thing you are most passionate about in life?
KIT: My family and friends! That probably seems like an easy answer, but it’s true.
GLITTER: What was the first book that you ever wrote, even if it wasn’t published?
KIT: It was a tour-de-force picture book called The Time I Made Friends with a Dog that I wrote, illustrated, and “published” in first grade. I still have it!
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
KIT: Three books I read in high school that had a profound, lasting impact were The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides; Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen; and The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I don’t know if I could pinpoint specific ways in which each book impacted my writing, but they got me thinking about different modes of storytelling and approaches to craft in ways that deepened my excitement about writing when I got to college.
GLITTER: Who inspires you?
KIT: Three of the many authors I’m constantly fangirling over are Ruth Ware, Stephanie Kuehn, and Courtney Summers. There are many more!
GLITTER: What are you currently working on?
KIT: My next book is still a secret! (Ssh.) I hope to be able to spill some details soon.
Photo Credit: Carly Gaebe Steadfast Studio
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.