Thursday, June 5, 2014

Exciting New Book Reveal from Paula Stokes: VICARIOUS!

Hi guys! I’ve taken over Christina’s blog today to tell you about something super-exciting—a new book deal! Maybe you heard about my second deal with HarperTeen that was announced a couple of weeks ago. What you don’t know is that prior to that deal I finished another novel and sold it, plus a sequel (it’s a duology—no trilogy, no cliffhangers, I promise) to Tor Teen. Here’s the official word:

Paula Stokes's VICARIOUS, in which a high-tech Korean stunt girl searches worlds both real and virtual to find her missing sister, to Melissa Frain at Tor Children's, in a two-book deal, at auction, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  
 Translation: Taryn Fagerness Agency  

Melissa Frain is the editor for one of my favorite books of all time, ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD! When we talked on the phone she really loved VICARIOUS, but she also had some suggestions for making the story more relatable that resonated strongly with me. While I’m very committed to writing additional contemporary YA novels for Harper, I feel like Tor Teen is a great place for me to explore some of the darker, more speculative stories I want to write. I cannot wait to dive in and start editing this book.  

So what is VICARIOUS? It’s a mystery, an action-adventure story, a cyber thriller, a love letter to all things Korean, and a tale of two sisters whose bond is so strong that nothing can keep them apart. Oh, and there’s kissing. Not a ton, but some, because I like kissing :-) Once again, this book is different from all my other books. It’s darker than THE ART OF LAINEY and a bit more lyrical than LIARS, INC. Parts of this book will make you uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable writing them. Although I am striving to make sure the two-book storyline reads as hopeful, some of what happens to main character Winter Kim is devastating. This is truly the story of a girl who perseveres despite all odds. Those of you who are visual might want to go check out the book’s Pinterest board.  

I got the idea for VICARIOUS during the drafting of my third work-for-hire book, STARLING (writing as Fiona Paul), when I became frustrated with some of the limitations to Cassandra’s character. I wanted my female MC to be totally kickass, but Cass was—had to be—hindered by her time-period, upbringing, and societal norms. I remember venting about this to my friend and crit partner Marcy Beller Paul like, “I want to write a female action hero.” And she so sagely responded, “Why don’t you?”
 
So I did. I had also always wanted to write a main character of color, but it felt inorganic to force a different culture upon one of my MCs “just because.” Like the wand chooses the wizard, I think the story chooses the characters. Winter, her sister Rose, and their guardian, Gideon, came to me as Koreans and it all just fit. You might not know that my dad was stationed in Korea, or that I have adopted Korean cousins, or that I spent a year teaching English in Seoul. These things don’t “qualify me” to write from a Korean perspective, of course, but I do think my past immersion in the culture helped me identify the questions I needed to ask during the writing process. 

As the second book in this duology takes place partially in Seoul, I will be returning there next year for research. I plan to have Korean-Americans and native Koreans beta-read both books. I know that no matter how hard I try, some readers will be unsatisfied with Winter’s portrayal and see her as inauthentic. But not all Koreans think the same, just like not all women think the same, and not all teens think the same. If I try to please every reader, I’ll end up pleasing no one. All I can do is promise to work my very hardest to bring my characters and their culture to the page with authenticity and respect.  

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m announcing this deal on Ensconced in Lit. Christina is one of the few people who have already read this story, and one of the Korean-Americans who’ll be there to help me stay true to Winter’s heritage. Also, Christina is awesome, and I can’t think of anyone else with whom I’d rather share my good news. Love you, C!  

Love you too, P! I loved this book so I'm overjoyed you chose me to showcase it! Can't wait for it to come out!!!  

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. In addition to writing, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula is the author of several YA novels including The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. (2015). She loves interacting with readers. Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.
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18 comments:

  1. Wooohoooo!! I'm so so very excited about more books from you! Action books, sisterly bond, Koreans, diversity!! SOUNDS LIKE A MUST HAVE FOR ME!!

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  2. I am super excited about this! Yay for diversity, and color me intrigued about what aspects might make me uncomfortable. Books that have that ability are usually mind-broadening so I'm very curious about Vicarious in that regard. Congratulations, Paula! I'm thrilled for you and for myself to have more of your books so enjoy!

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    1. It's a very ambitious book, one that I stopped and asked myself a lot during the revision process like "WHY ARE YOU EVEN ATTEMPTING TO DO ALL OF THIS IN ONE BOOK?"

      But hey, I'm a "go for it" kind of girl and I'm confident my editor will help me streamline and simplify where needed :-)

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  3. So excited about your news! (: I don't think I've read anything from the Korean perspective so I'm super excited and intrigued! (:

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    1. Thanks! You might want to check out Christina Farley's, GILDED. It's a Korean fantasy and I've heard great things.

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  4. Yay, Paula! I knew we'd see this one on shelves some day! I seriously cannot wait for Vicarious. Though I'm not Korean, there are many similar aspects to Chinese culture (plus I have a ton of Korean friends), so I'm really looking forward to reading this. Plus it sounds exciting, heart pounding, and just everything I'd want in a book. I can't wait, and again, congratulations! :D

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    1. Thanks for being supportive that night I was wailing about how much I needed this book to sell. Tor Teen is the perfect home for it!

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  5. Diversity, family, action, kissing, kickass heroine... Check, check, check, check, CHECK!!

    I need this book like oxygen. Where is my TARDIS?! I'm suffocating here!!

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    1. Yay! I hope you enjoy...someday. This will be either late fall 2015 or early winter 2016, which is pretty good for publishing speed.

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    1. I can't wait to meet you next month :-D

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  7. Awesome! Can't wait to read it!

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  8. Okay this sounds AMAZING! Which is by no means a surprise at all. I always love your posts and they sound so inspiring to people who want to be writers. I love that your characters are Korean because they are MEANT to be and not just because you wanted diversity there. I'm really digging the whole game/real world thing, that's something I haven't heard of before so I'm thinking this will be a fresh spin for a thriller. (Thrillers make me happy.) I really love what you are doing with your beta readers for this and you are definitely right that you can't please everyone, but I think you are going above and beyond what some people do to make it as authentic as you can. I'm so excited for you to have another deal and I seriously see SO many big things happening for you! Can't wait to meet you next month! <3

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    1. Thanks Crystal! As much as I wish there was lots of diversity in lit, as an author I can't just go "Hmmm Nepali. I want a Nepali girl. What should she do? Skateboarder. Okay, let me go read some Nepali books." I know some authors do this with success, but my characters always just kind of materialize in my brain and the more I try to change them the more they fight back.

      And yes I do work hard for my readers, taking exotic trip to Seoul and Copenhagen in the interest of authenticity >_> *has figured out how to be happy as a writer*

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  9. I'm so happy for you Paula! I loved Lainey as a character because of how you wrote her, so I'm sure I'll love Winter just as much. And OMG! When you mentioned Korean and Seoul I just started fangirling. I love Korea (almost) everything! The guys are also friggin hot! Jung Yong Hwa anyone? :D Can't wait to read this duology! ^_^

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    1. Yay! It's good to hear someone besides me loved Lainey as a character ;-) And Winter's sorta-love-interest is white which I know some people will have a problem with, but again, that's just how the characters came to me and he doesn't fetishize her whatsoever. Plus there will be adorable Korean boys too, like her sister's ex-bf Gideon, so people will have to deal. Or not deal. I suspect this will be a love-it-or-hate-it book. I'm okay with that as long as I get to remain on the love-it side ;-)

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