Today we're excited to chat with Paula Stokes, author of Ferocious & Vicarious!
Read on for more about Paula and her book, the book trailer, and a giveaway!
Meet Paula Stokes!
Paula Stokes is the author of several YA novels, most recently Ferocious and this is How it Happened. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.
When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.
Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her?
Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, work as high-tech stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price.
When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the neural recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I worked as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea several years back, and from the moment I became a published author I always wanted to set a book there--to share the amazing high-tech, bustling city with readers who aren't able to travel as much as I can. When it comes to writing, I don't believe in forcing things, so I just kept my brain open and waited for a story idea that felt like it belonged in Seoul. When I got the idea for VICARIOUS, the main character, Winter, immediately felt Korean to me. At first that book was going to be longer, partially set in St. Louis and partially set in Seoul. But as the mystery developed during the drafting process, I realized the story was two books and that Winter would have to go to both Los Angeles and Seoul in the sequel.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Both novels came long before their titles. The drafting title for VICARIOUS was GOODBYE ROSE, because in the first draft, Rose is missing instead of dead. I came up with VICARIOUS when I was naming the technology that is integral to the series. The original title for FEROCIOUS was VICIOUS, because I wrote the first book and outlined the sequel in 2012-2013, before the V.E. Schwab book with the same title released. After that title was taken, I considered VISCERAL (too hard to spell, not catchy enough), VICTORIOUS (a little too close to VICARIOUS), MONSTROUS (overused in recent years), NEFARIOUS (gives the agency to the villain), before I came up with FEROCIOUS.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I am most proud of the ending and epilogue. Winter is struggling with mental illness in both books, and her awareness of her condition grows throughout the series. One thing that's important to me as an author (and also as a psychiatric nurse) is that plots/romances don't heal mental illness. That's not real life and I think it's dangerous to present those ideas in books, especially stories for teens. What Winter goes through in the Vicarious duology doesn't fix her--not even close. But what it does do is open her eyes to how she is, why she is the way she is, and the possibilities for the future. At the end of the book, one of the things Winter does is choose inpatient psychiatric care for herself, an ending that might seem bleak, but is actually written in a way that is hopeful and uplifting. Winter makes several bad choices throughout the series, but choosing to focus on her mental health--even though it means temporarily leaving the guy she loves and the place she calls home--is the right choice for her, and it opens her up to greater possibilities for happiness in the future.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I've learned that staying in this business means be willing to fight for my job, every single day of my life. Before I became published, I kind of thought if I wrote a couple of books and the whole world didn't hate them that I would be an author--that would be my job. Whether my job paid enough for me to survive might depend on sales figures and productivity, but it never really clicked that I could be willing to work 60+ hours a week, write two or three books a year, sacrifice my social life (and at times my sleep and health), and still lose my job. But that's the reality for a lot of authors. Thousands of books are published every year and most authors are forced to fight for reader attention and market share. If your first book underperforms sales expectations, it'll be harder to sell a second book. If your second book doesn't do well, you'll face an uphill battle trying to sell the third one. Last year I had two publishers. Now I'm without a contract and fighting again. I'm not giving up because I love writing and I have several different ideas for new books that I really believe in. But having no job security even after selling ten novels is stressful, and I've had to learn to manage my anxiety to be able to continue functioning...and fighting.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love that the publisher used East Asian cover models and didn't obscure their ethnicity. The original pitch for the VICARIOUS cover was Winter standing on the bridge, seen from the back, and I specifically asked if we could make her face visible. We opted for the profile shot because it was one of the best stills from the photo shoot and because I felt like she looked Korean but also we were leaving the reader to fill in some of her physical traits in their heads, something a lot of readers say they like to do. The same things goes for FEROCIOUS. This model's face is shaded to make it less obvious we were unable to use the same model from the first book, but to me she definitely looks like she could be Korean. I love the fierceness of these covers too--the models look very strong and active and in charge of their own destinies. I also love the high-tech futuristic feel, the color palettes, and the title font.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or revising?
OMG I hate revising with the white-hot fire of a thousand suns. Drafting is fun and for someone who needs to *feel* productive I can look at my word count and watch my document get longer and know that I'm working hard. When I revise, I work just as hard but my word count is often like -8000 words for the day so it's hard for me to see that I got work done. Plus I am horribly inefficient and catch myself starting from the beginning and re-reading every time I make a bigger change to the document, just to catch all the related loose ends. This means I usually turn in drafts to my editor where the first 100 pages are shiny and perfect from 22 revisions but the last 100 pages are, like, third or fourth draft, which for me is not very good ;)
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
My superpower is empathy, so much so that it gets me in trouble sometimes when I am unable to muster up the rage and thirst for vengeance that a lot of people feel after someone does something wrong. I read a meme recently that said "You know too much psychology if you can't ever get mad because you always understand why people act the way they do." That is completely me and a lot of times I feel like a total alien because of it, like everyone is screaming for justice and retribution and I am watching from a safe distance thinking "But what will that solve? Who does that help? Shouldn't we ask ourselves why this person did what they did and try to figure out a way to keep them and others like them from doing the same thing in the future?" But no one wants to hear that, especially not online where there are ninety-nine loud, judgmental voices for every quiet person who says: "But what about compassion?" I am probably too sensitive for this world, but I'm going to keep on being me, even if other people mistake my empathy for ignorance or kindness for weakness :)
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
So many causes! I joined a local political group last year that is currently fighting for workers rights, immigrant rights, racial equality, and healthcare for all--all things I believe in deeply. I am also extremely anti-death penalty and anti-war. As I have gotten older, I have sort of turned away from donating to big charities in favor of helping individual humans. I love contributing to medical and pet GoFundMes, as well as giving money to homeless people on the streets of Portland when I can afford to. I feel like when you do that, you introduce a human component to your giving. Both sides benefit from having a more personal interaction and you also send a message to someone who might be feeling alone and unloved that they are seen, that their struggle matters, even to strangers. You validate their suffering in a way that just sending in a donation can't. My favorite local charity is Transition Projects. They're a homelessness to housing non-profit that I volunteer with and the variety of services they provide to Portland's homeless population is amazing. My awareness of what kind of people become homeless (spoiler: all kinds of people) and what they go through has really increased, and some scenes in one of my current WIPs were inspired by my volunteer work with them.
YABC: What's next for you?
I am super-excited to be self-publishing my first new adult romance, THE KEY TO EVERYTHING, in the next few weeks. Here's the working cover copy:
College senior Oakland Fuller has always believed in signs and soulmates, so when both a therapist and a fortuneteller say that her repeated relationship failures are due to unresolved feelings for her high school boyfriend, Seth, Oakland tries desperately to get back in touch with him. Problem: Seth isn’t responding to her online messages.
To rescue Oakland from a pathetic Christmas break of sitting in front of the computer, her best friend Morgan books the two of them on a guided excursion of Thailand. When the girls meet a pair of American soldiers in Bangkok, Oakland takes Morgan’s advice and engages in a little harmless holiday hooking up. Sergeant Tyson Banks is the perfect mix of sexy and fun. Two weeks with him might just turn out to be the best relationship Oakland has ever had.
Until the day she spots someone familiar across a crowded temple complex—it’s Seth! Somehow the boy she’s been trying to reconnect with is in Bangkok too. If that’s not a sign, then what is?
Filled with friendship, romance, bromance, and gorgeous faraway settings, The Key to Everything is a story for anyone who’s ever dreamed of finding love when (or where) they least expected it.
I am still waiting for an ISBN so I can finalize the book's release date, but it should be the end of October or beginning of November, and you can check the book's Goodreads page for updates and more info if it sounds like something you might like :)
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: Tor Teen Publishing
Published Date: August 15th, 2017
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