A FRENZY OF SPARKS by KRISTIN FIELDS – Review, Interview & Giveaway

I loved Kristin Fields novel, A FRENZY of SPARKS (LakeUnion). In many ways it was my story of growing up in the 60s where everything seemed perfect, and boring at the same time. We lived in the same neighborhood as our aunts, uncles and cousins. We were always dreaming of escaping our lives in the suburbs. Sundays were family day, usually a barbeque at someone’s house.

In this book, Gia is a 13-year old girl living in Queens on the verge of growing up. Her backyard canal is a better place to be, compared to spending time with boys in the neighborhood. But in A FRENZY of SPARKS, like much of life the neighborhood isn’t really what seems. One cousin introduces drugs into the neighborhood and everything starts changing and not for the better.

A FRENZY of SPARKS is a story about family, love, addiction and making choices. Its a story of survival and attempting to move on when your heart has been broken.

WE ASKED KRISTIN A FEW QUESTIONS:

1. We love sagas about families. The secrets and the various relationships. What makes the perfect family saga?
The funny thing about families is that we’ve clustered a group of individuals together by blood and traits that sometimes compliment each other, but often clash. A good family saga throws that whole range of emotions, from wanting to belong to wanting to stand apart, down on paper. 

2. Please give me the elevator pitch for this novel?A FRENZY OF SPARKS is a coming of age story set in 1960s Queens against the backdrop of the drug crisis of the time, in which a 13 year old girl tries to save her brother from addiction and the world from chemicals, but the most important thing she’ll need to save is herself. 

3. I like this quote, “survival is the attempt to move forward while leaving pieces of your heart behind.” Explain.It often feels impossible after a loss that life can continue, that the next breath will come, that the newspaper will end up on the stoop, that food will ever taste like anything at all, that time will be a thing that we savor instead of dread. But slowly, time accumulates. We continue, not wholly, not without missing pieces, but we continue. 

4. What is your writing process?I usually know the title of the book before anything else. The title becomes the question to answer as I write. I write about 150-200 throwaway pages to figure out the characters and relationships that will ultimately drive the story and outline later. Outlining in the beginning feels too restrictive for me – how can I know what they’ll do if I don’t know who they are yet? My favorite time to write is around 4am before the world starts. It’s nice to fall into another world and look up to realize the sun has come up. It’s the best way to start the day.

5. Tell me about the research that went into writing this novel?
A FRENZY OF SPARKS was inspired by a true family event: I have an uncle who overdosed before his eighteenth birthday. Even though he died years before I was born, it was too painful for my family to talk about, and I didn’t know much about him. It hit me one day that this was the story I was meant to tell – and had perhaps been inching towards in my earlier writing.
Writing A FRENZY OF SPARKS was the first time I spoke directly to my father about his childhood. We scheduled Saturday morning interviews, which he took very seriously. I had questions about his neighborhood, family, things he did for fun, local legends, the shops they visited, much of which shaped the novel’s setting, though at the time, it was less about historical accuracy and more about curiosity. It’s a special thing to imagine your parents as children. 
Our first call lasted four hours. My father was close to Gia’s age at the time, but ultimately, A FRENZY OF SPARKS is fiction, told through the perspective of a girl on the cusp of adulthood. I borrowed from my own experience and frustration with the expectations projected on Italian American girls. Gia is the closest character I’ve written to myself. She is young and naive, but fearlessly observant and intune to the moods of others. She feels a deep connection to nature and the natural world despite living so close to New York City, a fact that sets her apart from her family. More than anything, she wants to do good in a world that isn’t quite open to her yet. 
Years ago, I taught high school in Rockaway and moved to Howard Beach for a shorter commute. I lived in a small, ground level apartment off a canal that flooded when the tide was high at full moon. I used to watch the planes take off from JFK in the park and ate more slices at New Park than I can count, but the funny thing is, the apartment was right around the block from the house my father grew up in. He was as surprised as I was to discover that I’d ended up so close. We joked that I must’ve been drawn there. My father described reading A FRENZY OF SPARKS as the surprise of walking around the block and bumping into someone he hadn’t seen for a long time. Gia reminds him of me. 


6. Tips for would be writers.The best writing advice I ever received was from Martha McPhee, my mentor and friend. I was struggling to write my first book when she told me to pause writing and go live my life. It wasn’t easy to hear, but she was right. The words followed when there was more experience to draw from. 

Kristin Fields grew up in Queens, which she likes to think of as a small town next to a big city. Fields studied writing at Hofstra University, where she received the Eugene Schneider Fiction Award. After college, Fields found herself working on a historic farm, teaching high school English, and designing museum education programs. She is currently leading an initiative to bring gardens to public schools in New York City, where she lives with her husband. We have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us the latest book that you’ve read and loved. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck. GIVEAWAY: USA only please.
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20 thoughts on “A FRENZY OF SPARKS by KRISTIN FIELDS – Review, Interview & Giveaway

  1. The last book I read and absolutely loved was Before We Were Yours…all the feels! Looking forward to A Frenzy of Stars ⭐️ 😊

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  2. Oh, how often I think of the 50’s and 60’s and of the innocence and naive of being young. I would love to read and remember of those days. Thank you, Cindy.

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  3. Sounds excellent! I would love to read and review this book. Thanks so much for the giveaway ❗ ❤️

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  4. Hi your book sounds like a great read and like a must read. The book I am just about to finish is “Meant For Her” by Joy Avery Melville and I am loving it so much, that I don’t want it to end, good thing is though there is a sequel coming up, so that makes me happy. ❤ Thank you for the chance. Have a Great week and stay safe. God Bless you.

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  5. This looks really good!
    I just finished Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini and really liked it!!!

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