I’ve wanted to feature Kat Cho ever since her book Wicked Fox came out. VICIOUS SPIRITS, the companion to Wicked Fox, is due out on August 18:
As Vicious Spirits begins, Miyoung and Jihoon are picking up the pieces of their broken lives following the deaths of Miyoung’s mother, Yena, and Jihoon’s grandmother. With the support of their friend Somin, and their frenemy, Junu, they might just have a shot at normalcy. But Miyoung is getting sicker and sicker by the day and her friends don’t know how to save her. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice and, let’s be honest, Junu isn’t known for his “generosity.” Meanwhile, the events at the end of Wicked Fox have upended the forces that govern life and death and there are supernatural entities lurking in the background that will stop at nothing to right their world.
Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.
But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.
Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.
With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.
Have you figured out what kind of puppy to adopt yet? Or have you already adopted more than one?
My sister has a miniature schnauzer that I adore, so I know I like that kind of dog! But, I think I want to try to adopt if I can, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what kind of dogs are available at some of the local rescues!
Sounds like a plan! I love how both WICKED FOX and VICIOUS SPIRITS incorporate gumiho lore. How did the world of the series change as you wrote it?
The thing about Korean folktales is that there aren’t a lot of written/translated records and the ones that exist sometimes contradict each other. So it was important to kind of fill in the gaps and make a connection between all the stories in a way that worked for my modern-day gumiho.
I’m glad you did. I’ve heard a lot about “second book blues.” Without giving away spoilers, what were some of the writing challenges VICIOUS SPIRITS gave you?
I decided to really shorten the timeline for VICIOUS SPIRITS compared to WICKED FOX. In WICKED FOX the characters needed time to get to know each other and form a connection before everything gets torn apart. But by the time VICIOUS SPIRITS rolls around all of the main characters have known each other for months if not years. It made it easier to play with the relationships and any preconceived notions that they had about each other. But it also made the timeline really tight and I had to keep making sure that things were moving along well and while not feeling rushed. I also had to expand on the supernatural world. Whereas in WICKED FOX, the supernatural world was very centered on the gumiho mythology, it was expanded in VICIOUS SPIRITS to now include dokkaebi, jeoseung saja (reapers), and ghosts. It makes it very fun but also very complicated.
Sounds like it! What has been most helpful to you in the current and uncertain times we live in?
My support system of other writers and publishing people, many of whom are BIPOC and have been great resources and support during this time. I feel immensely lucky that I’ve created a couple of close-knit groups that I can share my frustrations and my hopes with. I trust them with most of my publishing secrets so I know that if I’m having a bad moment or I need advice I can always go to them. It’s why I talk a lot about community in publishing in most of my platforms (I talk about it a lot on my podcast, Write or Die Podcast). I also have had some moments where I do feel a lack of momentum in my work because sometimes when you’re a creative and such serious/important things are happening in the greater world, you might think “does what I’m creating matter? Is it even helping?” I guess I think this way because I used to work in cancer research and it felt like a concrete way to create positive change in the world. But after being in children’s publishing for a few years now, I can say that these stories do make a difference. Especially when they share untold stories from marginalized communities. It might not be as concrete feeling as cancer research, but stories are really powerful things and they help foster minds (both young and old) to see the possibilities in the world and to open themselves up to new things. So, knowing that also helps me as I write and work during these times.