Debut of the Week: Kat Cho and Wicked Fox

Welcome to Debut of the Week, our series celebrating some of the most exciting new voices in YA. This week we welcome Kat Cho, author of Wicked Fox.

Miyoung is a Gumiho, a mythical nine-tailed fox who can wear a human form but must consume men’s souls for sustenance. She and her mother fly under the radar in modern-day Seoul, where she makes meals of unpunished criminals deserving of her justice. But saving a boy in the woods from a goblin changes everything: suddenly she and the boy, Jihoon, are bound, and the friendship-turned-romance that results leaves her on the precipice of sacrificing everything.

Here’s Cho on inspiration, writing (and reading!) romance, and the best part of the debut experience.

Tell us a little bit about what we can expect from Wicked Fox. 

KC: A teenage gumiho—a nine-tailed fox that can turn into a beautiful girl—falls in love with a human boy and risks her immortal life for him.

What was the spark that became this book?

KC: There were a few things that sparked my idea for this book. The first was definitely the books of folktales that I sporadically read growing up. That’s where I first ever heard of the gumiho and fox imagery in Korean mythology. Then that myth was re-introduced to me through Korean dramas and I loved how they re-imagined her as a creature that wasn’t completely evil. It made me remember the contemporary and urban fantasy books I devoured as a teen and young adult where there was a paranormal creature (i.e. a vampire) that was often presented as evil but was given more layers so they could survive in a modern setting. I really wanted to do that for the gumiho in a modern Seoul setting and with the themes of a young adult novel.

What were the books you had to read throughout your life in order to write it?

KC: There were a few books that formed my love and fascination with stories. The first books that introduced me to addictive fantasy worlds were the Redwall Series. I loved the classic concepts of an underdog (or undermouse!) that rose up to help his friends and save his home! I also loved the food scenes. The first books that introduced me to family and romantic love in all it’s complicated nuance were Nora Roberts novels. I just really loved how, even though they were romance novels, family relationships & friendships were just as important and were just as fleshed out. And the first I fell in total and complete love with the complicated themes of Young Adult as we know them today was Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I absolutely adored the unique characters and their moral and personal dilemmas throughout the trilogy. These books formed how I thought about stories and were very important to me when I started to write my own (I even wrote Redwall fanfic as a child). For craft books I really liked The Art of Character, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and Wonderbook.

What were you like as a teenager?

KC: I was very studious because I wanted to go to a good college. So, my focus was mainly school and hanging out with my friends (before going away to said college). I really wanted to experience everything you were supposed to experience as a high school senior. I also wanted to be a writer at the time, but I was really stressing out because I didn’t know if it was something I was talented enough to pursue.

Favorite thing you’ve read recently?

KC: I really loved The Devouring Gray, by Christine Lynn Herman. I’m so excited for Rogue Heart, a companion novel to Rebel Seoul, by Axie Oh. It’s also set in Asia, but in a futuristic one and it draws heavily on k-drama themes just like my novels, so I am a huge fan of these novels.

What has been the most surreal part of your debut experience?

KC: It’s probably seeing fan art and bookstagrams of my novel. I never thought people would make other forms of art with my book, and I am so grateful for it!

What’s next for you?

KC: I have two projects I’m currently working on. The first is the sequel to Wicked Fox! I’m so excited to continue exploring the world I created in the first book and there are some side characters that get to take front and center in the second book! The second manuscript I’m working on is a middle grade contemporary fantasy based on Korean Mythology. It’s about two sisters who find themselves on the wrong side of some old Korean gods!

Wicked Fox is on shelves now!

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