Long ago, I pre-ordered copies of Invisible Fault Lines for the Sacramento Public Library, and I am happy to report that it is now available for purchase. It offers a fascinating lens into the same date one century apart, and how it impacts those affected by it.
“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.
According to your website, you’ve been to a variety of different writing residencies. In what ways have these been helpful to you, and what suggestions, if any, do you have for people interested in taking part in them?
I’m so grateful to the organizations who supported my efforts writing by inviting me to spend time at their residencies — I wrote the first draft of Fingerprints of You in 5 weeks at The Studios of Key West and Invisible Fault Lines was primarily composed during stays at Hambidge, VCCA, the Vermont Studio Center, and Wildacres. Essentially, the idea is that they are offering the gift of time and space, and those fellowships have played an incredibly important role in my development as an author. Now that I’m a mother, I can’t sneak away so often to work in residencies, but whenever anyone asks for advice about attending one, I always suggest to apply widely and often. They’re very competitive, like all things in this line of work, but if your submission lands in the right hands, a stay at a writing residency can be monumental for you as an artist and for your work-in-progress.
I’m definitely considering a few, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. And I love the mystery you’ve strung together in Invisible Fault Lines. What inspired the story, and what do you hope readers will take away from it?
I’ve had a hard time finding the right way to talk about this book — it’s a hybrid novel that blends a contemporary missing person mystery with historical fiction sections set during the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Firestorms, so in that way it’s much different than my first book. And that was intentional — I set out to write something unlike anything I’d written before, as I wanted to push myself and see if I could branch out from my previous style. When I set out to begin writing, I also decided I wanted to write a book that considered the impossible as possible, so there are hints of time-travel as well. I never imagined writing about the possibility of alternate universes, but I wanted to be braver on the page and to take a risk and do something different than what I had done with Fingerprints of You. And because of those risks, I feel incredibly vulnerable as I send the book out into the world. More vulnerable than I did with my debut. It’s a book about loss and grief, about one teenager’s way of coping with a traumatic event, the disappearance of her father. So my hope is that the book reminds readers there is no one right way to grieve or manage pain, that you have to find your own way, and each method of processing loss and hardship is equally valid.
You’ve also done this very well in Fingerprints of You, which explores the life of a girl named Lemon, and her journey toward figuring out what she wants for herself. I love the name Lemon for a character; did she come to you fully formed, or did she develop as you wrote her?
I was fortunate with that novel because it began with Lemon’s voice — it was fairly easy for me to imagine the way she sounded and to see the world through her eyes. Of course the challenge was unpacking her backstory, so that I could understand why she sounded that way and how she’d developed that distinct perspective, but in general I felt immediately connected to her character. As I said, I wrote the first draft of the book quickly, and I think I was able to do that because I was so grounded in her voice.
I love when characters come fully formed that way. If you were stranded on a desert island with five books, what would they be and why?
There is absolutely no possible way for me to answer that! But I’ll give it my best shot with the full disclaimer that this is an incomplete list, that my tastes change depending on my mood and what I’m working on.
I do always tend to recommend the following books, though:
Extremely Lound & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
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.
INVISIBLE FAULT LINES (out now!)
FINGERPRINTS OF YOU