Author Spotlight: Stacy Stokes
May 5, 2022
|cover design by Jennifer Jenkins
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
First, thanks so much for having me! I’m Stacy Stokes, author of the speculative thriller Remember Me Gone. I’m originally from Texas, but currently live in the Bay Area with my family.
I grew up in a house filled with books. My mom was never without something to read—she used to carry paperbacks in her purse and would pull them out while waiting in line at the grocery store—so the love of words was engrained in me at a young age. When I was in fifth or sixth grade I discovered the YA section of the bookstore and immediately fell in love with thrillers and anything with a speculative or paranormal bend, and started coming up with my own ideas for stories. I wanted to tell the kinds of stories that made people flip pages and stay up late to find out what happens next.
Congrats on your YA debut, Remember Me Gone! Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! Remember Me Gone is a twisty speculative thriller that I like to describe as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars or One of Us is Lying. In it, Lucy’s family runs The Memory House in Tumble Tree, Texas, where people travel from all over to have their unwanted memories erased. Lucy dreams of one day taking over the family business and removing people’s heartaches just like her father. But when she uncovers a sinister plot that involves her dad and the family business, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about her life, family and the small town she grew up in.
The inspiration came from an episode of True Blood, the HBO series based on The Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. In the episode, someone hires a vampire to erase her husband’s memories in the hopes of curing his PTSD. I started wondering what it might be like to run a memory-taking business and, boom, the idea was born. Sans vampires.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road was long and winding, until it wasn’t. I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid, but I didn’t start seriously working towards publication until about ten years ago when I finally finished my first manuscript. Unfortunately, that book never really went anywhere, and it took several trunked manuscripts and 100+ rejections before I eventually signed with my agent. Now that I have the beauty of hindsight, I realize those early manuscripts weren’t strong enough for traditional publication. They were more like practice novels that helped set the stage for eventual publication.
With Remember Me Gone, things moved quickly. My agent was in the first batch of queries I sent. After signing with her, we did a round of revisions, went on sub and had an offer within two weeks. It sounds easy when I say it like that, but when you count the years of work leading up to that moment, I’d say it was anything but easy. I still get goosebumps whenever I think about the day my agent called me to tell me the news that we had an offer.
What projects are you working on?
My next book comes out with Penguin/Viking Books for Young Readers in the back half of 2023. It’s about a girl who sees dark clouds hovering over strangers’ heads when their lives are in danger. But when she saves a boy and causes a tragedy, someone discovers what she can do and wants revenge for her role in what happened. I like to describe it as Karen McManus’s Two Can Keep a Secret meets the classic I Know What You Did Last Summer with a speculative twist.
As a thriller author, what are your top one to two writing tips for writing a thriller or mystery?
Think about the thing your character wants most in the world. Then think about all the ways you can prevent them from getting that thing to amp up the tension. It’s your job to not just put your character up in a tree, but to throw rocks at them, set fire to the tree, then give them water to put out the fire only for them to discover that it’s not water, but gasoline. That’s the fun of writing thrillers—you get to constantly throw roadblocks in your character’s way.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
In high school I was really into competitive dance and an officer on my dance team. I have been dying to write a book featuring a dance team. I’ll finally get that wish with my second book coming out in 2023!
Where can people find you online?
You can learn more about me and my upcoming projects on stacystokes.com and follow me on Twitter and IG @stacyastokes.
Stacy Stokes is a lifelong lover of stories, a former improv comedy geek, and a marketing professional by trade. She graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a master’s degree in business from the Wharton School. Stacy lives with her family in the Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter @stacyastokes.
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