Author Spotlight: Kit Frick talks All Eyes on Us
I'm so excited to spotlight Kit Frick on today's blog! Kit 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, edits for private clients, and mentors emerging writers through Pitch Wars. She is the author of the young adult novels See All the Stars and All Eyes on Us, out now from Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, as well as the poetry collection A Small Rising Up in the Lungs from New American Press. A third YA thriller will follow in 2020
Check out the synopsis for All Eyes on Us below!
Pretty Little Liars meets People Like Us in this taut, tense thriller about two teens who find their lives intertwined when an anonymous texter threatens to spill their secrets and uproot their lives.
PRIVATE NUMBER: Wouldn’t you look better without a cheater on your arm?
AMANDA: Who is this?
The daughter of small town social climbers, Amanda Kelly is deeply invested in her boyfriend, real estate heir Carter Shaw. He’s kind, ambitious, the town golden boy—but he’s far from perfect. Because behind Amanda’s back, Carter is also dating Rosalie.
PRIVATE NUMBER: I’m watching you, Sweetheart.
ROSALIE: Who IS this?
Rosalie Bell is fighting to remain true to herself and her girlfriend—while concealing her identity from her Christian fundamentalist parents. After years spent in and out of conversion “therapy,” her own safety is her top priority. But maintaining a fake, straight relationship is killing her from the inside.
When an anonymous texter ropes Amanda and Rosalie into a bid to take Carter down, the girls become collateral damage—and unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private uproots their lives.
PRIVATE NUMBER: You shouldn’t have ignored me. Now look what you made me do…
And now, here's my chat with Kit!
Hi, Kit! Welcome and congrats on the release of All Eyes on Us. Can you share a little about the story and what inspired it?
Thanks so much for having me, Megan! In All Eyes on Us, an anonymous texter threatens Amanda and Rosalie, two teens with very different lives in small town West Virginia, and the girls become unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private Number spills their secrets and uproots their lives. It’s a tense thriller for fans of Pretty Little Liars, People Like Us, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
The idea for All Eyes on Us was born from an obsession with thrillers and page-turning plot lines and from listening to podcasts. I heard two episodes of This American Life in quick succession that got me thinking about an idea for a story. One followed a gay teen who had been disowned by his parents. In another, a young woman had been sexually assaulted, and her mother actually derailed the police investigation into her case because she didn’t believe her own daughter.
I couldn’t stop thinking about these parents who didn’t love their kids unconditionally and didn’t trust and believe them. Who thought they knew better than their kids did, and made decisions for them in the name of love and their sense of morality that were actually deeply harmful. That line of thinking planted the seed for my protagonist’s stories. Rosalie’s and Amanda’s parents think they are guiding their daughters toward the “right” path—financial security in Amanda’s case and heterosexuality in Rosalie’s—but in fact these aren’t healthy or positive paths for either girl to follow. At its core, All Eyes on Us is about two girls taking agency and making the decisions that are right for them, even though it means challenging tremendous family and community pressure.
Tension is the lifeblood of a thriller. What’s your best tip to manipulate it to keep readers flipping those pages?
For me, creating page-turning tension goes hand-in-hand with a careful focus on pacing. There are of course many ways to address pacing in your work, but here’s one: In mysteries and thrillers especially, we put our characters in situations where they're puzzling something through or trying to sort out their next move all the time. Some amount of "think work" is necessary to impart essential information to the reader—but it's generally much less than you think you'll need. When you find that your protagonist is thinking through their every move before they act or while performing the action, that's when you're going to run into trouble with pacing, which in turn leads to a slacking off in tension. Let what your characters do drive the scene. Provided your character's actions are tied directly to their internal drive (i.e. their goal or what they deeply want) the action will speak for itself without an abundance of explanation.
How do you approach writing dual POV? Was it difficult to keep things like timelines straight for Amanda and Rosalie?
I loved getting into both Rosalie’s and Amanda’s heads for this book. All of my books (including See All The Stars and my forthcoming 2020 YA) are either dual-POV or dual-timeline, so I’m a big fan of non-traditional narrative structures. For All Eyes on Us, I did a lot of outlining before I dove into drafting, so I got my timeline in order before I started writing fleshed-out scenes. This allowed me to then write the book chronologically, alternating between the two protagonists.
In revision, I did passes where I focused exclusively on Amanda’s story line, then exclusively on Rosalie’s, to address consistency, pacing, and to further develop each character’s unique voice
I’m a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing All Eyes on Us teach you?
So true! I’m learning new things all the time, with every project. With All Eyes on Us, I learned a couple important, confidence-boosting things about myself as a writer. The first was that I had more than one book in me; I thought that was true, but writing my second book confirmed that drive. The second was that I could first-draft a book much more quickly than I’d thought. When I wrote See All the Stars, my writing schedule was such that I would only write on weekends, and it took me about seven months to get a complete first draft down on paper. With All Eyes on Us, I was able to adjust my schedule so that I could write almost daily, and I finished the first draft in a little over two months. Granted, it took me much, much longer to revise than it did to get that messy first draft written, but I now know I work better in shorter, more intense stretches of time when it comes to drafting.
What are you reading, watching, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
Reading: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis, #Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil, and Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman (coming out in August)
Watching: Fosse/Verdon, iZombie, The Bold Type, and 90210, from the beginning, again.
Otherwise infatuated: True crime podcasts! I’m currently loving Uncover: The Village, Someone Knows Something, Criminal, and I’m excited to start Mared & Karen: The WVU Coed Murders.
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your writing/publishing career?
You are your own best advocate. (Well, you and your agent.) Don’t expect things to be handed to you, in terms of information or resources. Be polite and professional, for sure, but speak up for yourself. Ask questions. Adopt the confidence of a mediocre white man.
Many thanks go out to Kit for taking the time to tell us more about All Eyes on Us, her writing process, and for discussing the link between pacing and tension. Be to sure to add All Eyes on Us to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from these retail sites:
For more information, check out Kit's website at kitfrick.com, and catch-up with her on the following platforms:
And, as always,