KRISTEN-PAIGE MADONIA: I never imagined becoming a writer who wrote books about time-travel or alternate universes, but when I began drafting INVISIBLE FAULT LINES I knew that I wanted to be braver on the page. I wanted to take risks and do something different than what I had done with my first novel, FINGERPRINTS OF YOU. Both of my books explore the complexities of family dynamics and a teenager’s journey coming-of-age, but with INVISIBLE FAULT LINES I wanted to consider the idea of the impossible being possible, to experiment with structure and form, and to challenge my own perceptions of reality and mystery. It turned out that I wouldn’t be able to do that on my own -- the book would become a collaborative project with each person who read it.
INVISIBLE FAULT LINES is a character-driven missing-persons story about the ways we cope with loss and an intimate look at one family’s modes of survival when faced with tragedy. But it’s something more, too. It’s a mystery novel with historical fiction elements blended into a contemporary story that contains hints of time-travel and the possibility of alternate worlds or simultaneous existences. And so I’ve settled on the label “hybrid” – it’s part contemporary, part historical, part mystery and part magical, depending on what you choose to believe. In the end, it’s up to the reader to decide what has happened to the characters and how their lives will take shape as the story progresses.
The book invites the reader to participate and to make his or her own decisions. With this novel, I wanted to acknowledge that not all questions have clear answers, and I wanted readers to reevaluate their own beliefs and consider how they would cope with the loss that my character is faced with it. The book asks a great deal of the reader in that way.
With each novel I publish I become more aware that once the book is on shelves, it no longer belongs to me. My book becomes your book, and the book becomes a different book with each reader who reads it. No two readers are alike, and, consequently, there are as many versions of the novel as there are readers. With the publication of INVISIBLE FAULT LINES it has become increasingly clear that creating a story requires active participation from the reader. Regardless of my own intentions, the reader will enter the novel with their own backstory and experiences that will impact their interpretation of the narrative arc and the characters’ actions and reactions. The reader becomes responsible for filling any voids or ambiguities I’ve allowed for in the story.
What do you look for in an ending, Jungle Red Readers -- a tied up conclusion with all the questions answered, or an open-ended ambiguous
Kristen-Paige Madonia is the author of Invisible Fault Lines and Fingerprints of You, both published by Simon & Schuster. She teaches creative writing at James Madison University, Goochland County High School, and the Key West Literary Seminar and is a member of the low-residency MFA program faculty with the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Visit her at http://www.