Ask the Author: Kristin Fields
What would you like readers to know about you?
I grew up in Queens and have lived my entire life in NYC. It’s as much a character in my books as the people are. I knew early on that I wanted to be a writer someday and am thrilled that day came sooner than I ever thought it would. When I’m not writing, I help schools in NYC start gardens because, for many kids, it’s their first chance to connect with nature.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
A LILY IN THE LIGHT is about an eleven-year-old girl who’s training to become a professional ballet dancer when her little sister goes missing.
My next book, A FRENZY OF SPARKS (November 2020), is set in the 1960s and follows a group of cousins after drugs are introduced into their community. It comes out in November 2020.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
For whatever reason, I always have the title to my books before I know what they’re about (though sometimes, they change along the way). The title then becomes the question that needs to be answered throughout the story. So, I had the title, and I knew it was about a ballet dancer and that something traumatic had happened to her earlier on.
I’m the oldest of four siblings. When I started writing A LILY IN THE LIGHT, I had just gotten married and my parents and siblings had moved out of our childhood home in NYC. It was a loss and that loss materialized on the page into the disappearance of a four-year-old girl.
Growing up, my youngest sister loved to run away in stores. Loved it. If there was a clothing rack to hide in, she was on it. If she could slip under a counter and hide underneath, done, and she was so fast. I can’t tell you how many stores closed down until we could find her or how many panicked moments my mother had. For a little while, my mom would just avoid taking her out. We always found her, but when writing A LILY IN THE LIGHT, I wondered what would’ve happened if we hadn’t.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Oh gosh. There’s so many. All of the tender moments and arguing between siblings. The ballet scenes were a dream. I always had music playing for those so I would feel like I was in the studio or on stage. If I had to pick an absolute favorite scene, there’s a chapter in the first half of the book after Lily’s gone missing where Esme has been missing dance for weeks, not going to school, confined to the house, the search for Lily isn’t going well, her family is falling apart, and she loses it. She screams in the street and can’t stop.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
So many. We spent a lot of time in the library as kids. Alice Hoffman was one of the first adult voices I remember reading and I love her mix of magical realism. Jodi Picoult. Sue Monk Kidd. I’ve read The Great Gatsby nine times and it amazes me every time. Even now, I love finding books that re-inspire me to keep writing and pushing for better. Delia Owens’ WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING and Emily St. John Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN were two books recently that struck a deep nerve.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
My mentor, Martha McPhee, once gave me the greatest advice I’ve ever gotten. I was struggling after college, trying to write a novel for the first time and it wasn’t working. There were words on the page, but it wasn’t magic, and no amount of editing was going to revive the lackluster thing unfolding.
Martha told me to go out and live my life. I spent the next six years or so not writing. Life experience is a slow burn and without that, I wouldn’t have had interesting stories to tell. So go out into the world and be a sponge. Soak it up: all the uncomfortable feelings, all the pleasant ones, years of overheard conversations, and endless observations, say yes to things you’d normally say no to, and then bring it all back to the page when you’re ready.
A LILY IN THE LIGHT
A FRENZY OF SPARKS