2020 Debut Author Interview: Suzanne Park!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Suzanne Park and her novel THE PERFECT ESCAPE, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Suzanne on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Suzanne Park

Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand-up comedian, she was a finalist in the Oxygen Network's "Girls Behaving Badly" talent search, and appeared on BET's "Coming to the Stage." She found this to be the funniest thing in her comedy career because, well, she is not black. Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC's "Stand Up For Diversity" showcase in San Francisco alongside comedians Ali Wong and Nico Santos.

Keep up with Suzanne: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Instagram

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Suzanne: Thank you so much! With every big book milestone (developmental edits, copy edits, pass pages, mailed arcs, and finally...mailed finished copies!) it starts to sink in more and more. Self-doubt always seems to creep in, so I’m always reminding myself that publishing a book is a huge accomplishment, and I should be proud of myself for getting this far. Today, a few weeks prior to the launch of THE PERFECT ESCAPE, I’m feeling pretty good about everything. But ask me again closer to release date and I might have a very different answer haha.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Suzanne: The best part is writing THE END on a first draft. The hardest is starting a new manuscript, typing “CHAPTER ONE,” and then being taunted by the ominous blinking black cursor to dare continue.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for THE PERFECT ESCAPE?
Suzanne: A few things converged to make THE PERFECT ESCAPE happen. A couple of years ago, my brother, sister and I attempted a zombie escape room challenge. According to the host that evening, our team set a record for “dying” the earliest— we were just so terrible at solving the clues! The experience was more hilarious than scary, and the host was an energetic guy who really got into the game. He was maybe in his early 20s, and I thought how funny it would be if I wrote him into a book and set a romance right there in the escape room— the most unromantic place in the world. It could be the one of the nerdiest meet cutes ever. I’ve also been obsessed with zombies and apocalypse survival for a while now, and it all started because of THE WALKING DEAD— I’ve seen every episode (and read a few comics). So between my escape room experience and my weird obsession with zombies, plus the fact that I had always wanted to write an #ownvoices book from a Korean-American male main character’s perspective, this book idea fell into place pretty quickly and easily. 

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Suzanne: I have two favorite characters: Nate and his little sister Lucy. I felt Nate’s story deep within my core and really wanted to write about his experience (which was based on my own family’s experience) with classism and racism. He was also hard to write because I wanted this to be a humorous book, but I had to be careful around sensitive topics. Lucy was someone who I added in the second draft (Nate was an only child in the first draft!). I channeled my inner Beverly Cleary-Ramona to write Lucy. She’s a stubborn kindergartener and she says some pretty sweet and absurd things in front of her family and her classmates, as five-year-olds tend to do. 

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from THE PERFECT ESCAPE?
Suzanne: There’s so much negative noise right now in the media, and I wanted to write a fun, unique story because escapism is important to me.  By design, THE PERFECT ESCAPE is not exactly your typical teen romantic comedy for a few reasons: there’s action and adventure as well as underlying commentary on diversity, microaggressions, classism and privilege. I hope that readers will take away that they enjoyed the story and thought about some of the themes well after they put the book down.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE PERFECT ESCAPE in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Suzanne:I’d LOVE to revisit the zombierrific world of Nate Jae-Woo Kim someday, but right now (without divulging too much, super-high-level, top secret stuff here) I’m working on my second #ownvoices YA book about two teens from different walks of life who meet at digital detox summer camp set in a living history museum. I’ve done a LOT of research and it’s scary how much I know about rustic farm life now. That book will be out sometime in 2021. I'm also really excited about my adult rom-com LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT releasing this August. It’s about a female junior video game producer who’s tasked with releasing a mobile video game, and she’s antagonized by everyone around her, especially the new MBA intern. 

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Title: The Perfect Escape
Author: Suzanne Park
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020 

Summary: Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it? Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and Kate needs the money too. If the two of them team up, Nate has a true shot at winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

Thank you so much to Suzanne for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE PERFECT ESCAPE and can't wait for it to be out in the world on April 7th

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