Tuesday, November 17, 2020

"A Frenzy of Sparks"

Kristin Fields grew up in Queens, which she likes to think of as a small town next to a big city. She studied writing at Hofstra University, where she was awarded the Eugene Schneider Award for Short Fiction. After college, Fields found herself working on a historic farm, as a high school English teacher, designing museum education programs, and is currently leading an initiative to bring gardens to public schools in New York City, where she lives with her husband.

Fields applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Frenzy of Sparks, and reported the following:
From page 69:
The teakettle whistled on the stove downstairs, and her mother hurried off. Gia blinked away the sun as a new round of counting started from the yard. Leo was doing push-ups while Eddie stood over him, sipping from a coffee mug in his favorite black-and-white tracksuit. From high up, his scalp was visible through his hair, and it creeped her out to see the lumps in his skull. Leo’s T-shirt was plastered to his back. His arms wobbled, but when he finished, Eddie demanded fifty more until Leo puked in the grass.

The whole thing felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Gia made her bed, put her uniform on, everything she would’ve done anyway without being told. She even opened the bag of makeup and did what she could. The concealer erased the dark circles under her eyes, but the eyeshadow made her look punched, so she wiped it off and rolled lip gloss on until it was sticky enough to catch bugs, pleased with herself for trying. She took an osprey feather from her drawer and put it in her pocket for good luck.
Wow! I’ve always believed that every word, sentence, and page of a novel should be working towards the greater goal of the story. A Frenzy of Sparks is a coming of age story for 13-year-old Gia in 1965 after drugs are introduced to her close-knit community. Gia is beginning to understand that as a woman, that the world is not open to her in the same way it is for her brother, and that the expectations her parents have of her are very different than those of her older brother, Leo.

Just a little before the excerpt above, Gia and Leo have had a wild night out with their cousins. Leo wound up being taken home by the police. They were all drinking. This is especially embarrassing for their father, who is also a police officer, and so both kids are expected to tow the line now. Leo, by exercising, which shows the old world Italian American belief that men should be strong. But for Gia, she opens up the makeup bag her mother has been encouraging her to use, because girls should be pretty and well behaved.

But Gia loves nature. She is wild at heart. She tucks the osprey feather in her pocket for luck to carry a little of her wild with her in a tame world. It’s a beautiful reflection of who she is.

Conclusion: A Frenzy of Sparks passes the page 69 test!
Visit Kristin Fields's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Frenzy of Sparks.

--Marshal Zeringue