Author Interview: The Darkness Rises by Stacy Stokes

Crushed on by Christy Jane, on March 7, 2024, in Author Interview / 0 Comments

Author Interview: The Darkness Rises by Stacy Stokes

What would you do if you had the power to see death before it happened? Not a superpower I’d want, personally. I’ve written previously about the deathcast and the complication of that alone. The Darkness Rises is a speculative thriller right up my alley – and we have author Stacy Stokes here to talk her latest novel. Check out our interview below and pick up The Darkness Rises, out April 9th!

Author Interview: The Darkness Rises by Stacy Stokes

The Darkness Rises

by Stacy Stokes
Published by: Viking Books for Young Readers
on April 9, 2024
Genres: Paranormal, Thriller, Young Adult

A gripping speculative thriller perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and Ginny Myers Sain, about one girl with the power to see death before it happens--and the terrible consequences she faces when saving someone goes wrong.
Whitney knows what death looks like. Since she was seven, she’s seen it hover over strangers’ heads in dark, rippling clouds. Sometimes she can save people from the darkness. Sometimes she can’t. But she’s never questioned if she should try. Until the unthinkable happens—and a person she saves becomes the perpetrator of a horrific school shooting.
Now Whitney will do anything to escape the memory of last year’s tragedy and the guilt that gnaws at her for her role in it. Even if that means quitting dance—the thing she loves most—and hiding her ability from her family and friends. But most importantly, no one can know what really happened last year.
Then Whitney finds an ominous message in her locker and realizes someone knows her secret. As the threats pile up, one thing becomes clear—someone wants payback for what she did. And if she’s going to survive the year, she must track down whoever is after her before it’s too late.

Interview with Stacy Stokes

Tell us about Whitney. What is her day to day routine? What is something readers should know about her going into the story?

There are two versions of Whitney- the one from before and the one readers meet during the story—and their days look very different from each other.

The Whitney from before lived and breathed dance, so a typical day would have revolved around dance team rehearsals, choreography sessions, and evening workshops at her Grandma’s old dance studio to hone her technique. And somewhere in between it all she would have found time to hang with her best friend, Marissa, and maybe squeeze in a visit with her Grandma before she climbed into bed for the night, only to wake up early and do it all again.

The Whitney readers meet now is trying to figure out who she is without dance and how she’s supposed to move through her days knowing that she was the one who caused her school’s tragedy last year. Her days are spent avoiding reminders about what she did, including ignoring the telltale dark clouds that only she can see, warning her when someone is in danger. Because saving people leads to accidents, and enough people died because of Whitney’s mistakes. 

Then the notes start appearing and one thing becomes clear—there’s no hiding from her past. And if Whitney wants to figure out who’s behind the notes and just how much they know about her secret, she’s going to have to do it fast, before anyone else gets hurt. 

How did you craft Whitney’s grandma? Was she based on people in your life? 

In many ways Whitney’s relationship with her Grandma is the one I wished I could have had with my grandma. She lived far away so I only got to see her once at most and I never felt as close to her as some of my friends did with their grandparents. Now that I’m older, I wish I could go back in time and learn more about her experiences, her life and hear her perspectives. There’s so much wisdom we can learn from our grandparents and many of us don’t realize this until it’s too late. So in The Darkness Rises, I made Gams a critical part of Whitney’s life—a teacher, confidant and best friend—the way I wish I could go back in time to reconstruct my own relationship with my grandparents.  

How was writing The Darkness Rises different than your previous books? 

I am very much a panster, meaning I often muddle through first drafts for a while before I figure out what the book is about. But the primary story is usually there on the page after a first draft, even if it’s messy. 

With The Darkness Rises, it took me three or four attempts before I understood what the story was really about. While there were a few central elements that remained the same—Whitney’s ability, her relationship with her Grandma—the rest of the narrative shifted quite dramatically from draft to draft. I’m so glad I stuck with it, though. I’m proud of how this story turned out and I think I needed a messy process to help me get there. Even if at times I was tempted to walk away.

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