Happy Tuesday, bibliovores! Today I have an interview with Paula Stokes, prolific author of a zillion books but most importantly, Ferocious. This is the sequel to Vicarious and final novel in the duology. Stick around for the giveaway at the bottom of this post, in which you can win a copy of both Vicarious and Ferocious!
Meet Paula Stokes:
Alyssa: Hi and welcome to The Eater of Books! So glad you could join me today. =) Congratulations on the publication of Ferocious! By my count, this is your ninth published novel since 2012, including the ones published under Fiona Paul? How in the world do you make this happen? What helps your creative process so you keep going and don’t burn out?
Paula: Hi Alyssa :) Thanks! I love to write, so writing two books a year isn’t that difficult for me. The revising and promoting of two books a year can be draining, but if you want to do the fun stuff you have to do the less fun stuff that goes along with it. I do burn out sometimes, but if I’m burned out on writing I try to force myself to do promo work and vice versa if I’m burned out on promo. I am always working on multiple books at the same time, so if I get stuck drafting/revising one then I switch off to working on another. And in the rare instances when I am burned out on all things writing-related, well, that’s when I clean my apartment :D
Alyssa: How was writing this book different compared to writing the previous book, Vicarious?
Paula: Oh, man. This book was hard. I wrote most of Vicarious in 2012, before Venom (now called Venomous Kiss) was published. Back then I had zero thoughts about ratings or reviews or sales numbers or marketing or “what readers want.” It was totally a labor of love and I had no idea if anyone else would even want to read it, let alone publish it. I just wrote a book full of all of the cool things *I* wanted to read about—strong girls who are also vulnerable, family bonds, adventure sports, knife fights, car chases, shark dives, high-tech sci-fi stuff. I knew back then if it sold I would have to write a sequel and I knew roughly what the sequel would be about, but I didn’t know years would pass before I had to write it.
So, when that time finally came, my heart had moved onto other characters and stories and I had to sort of force myself to focus on Ferocious. It was painful and the early drafts are kind of terrible because my heart wasn’t in it. I eventually did fall back in love with the characters and I am very attached to the final product and the series as a whole, but it wasn’t until about draft #4 or #5 where everything started to come together in a way that felt right to me.
Alyssa: A somewhat related question – what was the most difficult thing about writing this book? Did you get stuck somewhere?
Paula: I got stuck near the end. Vicarious is so incredibly twisty and high-octane that nothing I came up with for Ferocious felt equivalent. Eventually, after trying to insert bigger twists that didn’t really work, I accepted the fact that Ferocious wasn’t going to be as shocking and action-packed as its predecessor, and that’s okay, because it deals not only with revenge, but also with Winter’s mental illness and her emotional bonds with Jesse and other characters. There are still twists and turns, but there are also quieter moments where Winter reflects about who she is, who she wants to become, and what the word “family” really means to her.
Alyssa: I'm glad that things got unstuck, and I definitely think those aforementioned aspects of the book are just as important as high-stakes action. The title (Ferocious) was released somewhat early on - how did you come up with the title of this book?
Paula: I wanted a title that started with V and/or ended in ous because I like matchy-matchy things, but I didn’t limit myself to those parameters. My first choice back in 2012 was to call the book Vicious, but we all know Tor published a different awesome book with that title in 2013, so that went out the window before Vicarious even sold. My next choice was Victorious, because it also fit the V/ous qualifications and it just seemed like such a good match. Too good of a match according to my editor, who felt that people would confuse the titles. Strike two. My next choice was Monstrous, because Winter has killed someone at the start of the book and she isn’t feeling particularly bad about it, so she wonders if there’s something wrong with her, if she’s some kind of monster. Then later we see some of the villains’ actions, and they are 100% monstrous and so that title worked on multiple levels. However, the word Monstrous has been used in several YA books in the past few years, so I decided to keep brainstorming. I had a whole list of stuff like Visceral, Nefarious, and Relentless, all of which I wasn’t sold on for one reason or another. Ferocious didn’t really pop into my head until late in revisions and it came from a line of dialogue from one of the villains.
“You’re responsible for the death of my sister and [redacted for spoilers.]”
“Yes, yes, and look at you now. Resilient. Ferocious. We’re not so different, you and me. So put the gun away and we can both walk out of here.”
Once I typed it, it just fit, you know?
Alyssa: Definitely! OMG. Is it bad that I like Nefarious? It would definitely make me do a double-take in a bookstore. :D What’s your favorite line or scene from this book? With as little spoiler-y content as possible, of course!
Paula: I like different scenes for different reasons. The scenes I like best that aren’t spoilery involve Winter and Jesse or Winter and Sebastian (Baz.) Winter and Jesse are adorable together and I knew I would love their dynamic, but the character of Baz surprised me multiple times during the outlining and drafting. You don’t get to know him well in Vicarious, but he has a bigger role in Ferocious and I enjoyed peeling back the layers and discovering who he really is. Here’s Baz asking Winter about her feelings for Jesse. Does she like him or is she just stringing him along? Winter tries to explain why she doesn’t feel like a relationship with Jesse is possible. She believes that both her mental illness and her need for revenge stand in the way of being with someone.
“Even if I could get better someday, I came here to kill someone. That should feel wrong, but it doesn’t. It’s like I’m . . . blinded by hate.” I grab a throw pillow from the back of the sofa and hug it to my chest. I rest my chin on the edge of it. “I don’t feel lovable. Sometimes I don’t even feel human anymore.”
“Hate is a very human emotion,” Baz says quietly.
I blink back tears. “All I know is that it will never go away unless I kill [spoiler.] Unless I stand over his body and say, ‘This is for my sister, this is for [spoiler], this is for me.’ Needing to kill someone like that makes me feel like a monster. Monsters can’t love, can they?”
There’s a clattering noise from the hallway. Baz rises from his chair and strides quickly over to the door. I follow. We hear the maid humming softly as she pushes her cart past our door.
“Ready?” He slips the cloning device into his pocket. “I’ll be right back.”
He pauses to grab the towels from the bathroom. Then he opens the door to slip out into the hallway. Just before it closes behind him, he looks back at me, his gray eyes deadly serious. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think monsters spend a lot of time worrying about whether they’re monsters.”
I ponder the words while I wait. Baz told me once that he was a terrible person, and he was fine with it. Is he trying to say the two of us are different, that it’s not wrong for me to want to kill someone? That I can have both vengeance and love? It seems like too much for any one heart to handle.
Alyssa: Ooooo, love it! I love what Baz tells her. What are some YA psychological thrillers [i.e. comparable YA books] that you recommend to readers?
Paula: This is hard because I haven’t read a lot of light sci-fi mysteries and I don’t tend to think in terms of psychological thrillers when I think of comparison titles for the Vicarious duology. Books that come to mind for me are things like Starters by Lissa Price, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, and Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige—the first for the techno elements, the second for the tough girl MC and light sci-fi elements, and the third for the vengeance storyline. Goodreads recommends Dream Fall by Amy Plum and Here Lies Daniel Tate, which is a new book by Cristin Terrill that I didn’t even know existed until now *adds to TBR* I tend to always guess the ending of psychological thrillers, but as far as YA mystery recommendations go, I really enjoyed Follow Me Back, Girl Last Seen, The Darkest Corners, and This is Our Story.
Alyssa: Ooo, yes. I personally recommend The Darkest Corners, Here Lies Daniel Tate, and the Mara Dyer series. Do you have plans for writing more books in this series? This particular world?
Paula: Hell to the no ;) Writing Winter was an amazing challenge, both from a cultural and mental illness aspect, but getting into her head required immense amounts of research and extra work. Also, she’s so dark (and rightfully so, given her history) that experiencing the world through her brain makes me feel sad. I’m glad I got to set a book in Seoul because it’s such a cool city, but I have no plans to write additional novels in this world, though I do have other light sci-fi, slightly futuristic ideas kicking around in my brain.
Alyssa: HA! I believe it. :D In general, what’s next, after Ferocious?
Paula: I have my new adult novel, The Key to Everything, out at the end of October and then another contemporary mystery, Hidden Pieces, releasing next spring. After that I’m hoping to sell an uplifting contemporary story set in Portland and/or an action-adventure story set in Iceland for 2019. Wish me luck :) I have a ton more ideas I’d like to write after those two, but I haven’t started more projects because I’m also applying to go back to school (again!) so I can finish my nurse practitioner certification.
Alyssa: Sounds good to me! Bless your creative, unstoppable mind. :D Thank you so much, and best of luck with everything!
Paula: You too. Thanks for being a long-time reader of my work and for your honest and thoughtful reviews. :)
About the Author:
Paula Stokes is the author of several novels, most recently Vicarious and Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. 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.
Ferocious by Paula Stokes
Book Two of the Vicarious series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Summary (from Goodreads):
Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.
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?
Check out Vicarious:
(Click on the cover for more information!)
Win a copy of Vicarious AND Ferocious! Courtesy of Tor Teen. Open to USA/CAN residents only. Ends 08/18, 11:59 PM EST. You can see complete giveaway rules in the Rafflecopter or on my Giveaways page. Good luck!
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