Hello to all the lovely people reading this blog post! Today, we have a very special guest on the blog, an author who’s upcoming book has absolutely won me over. When you think of zombies and escape rooms you don’t usually think of meet-cutes and romance. But The Perfect Escape is an exception to that!
It’s a light-hearted and fluffy read about Nate and Kate who meet at a zombie escape room. And today, we have the author Suzanne Park to chat with us about her book. I’m so excited, I really can’t wait any longer so let’s get started 🙂
Interviewing Suzanne Park: Author of The Perfect Escape
1. Hi Suzanne, so nice to have you here! How did the idea for The Perfect Escape come to you?
For my sister’s birthday celebration, a few of us attempted (and majorly failed!) a zombie escape room challenge. The host kept trying to help us out by giving us clues, but we weren’t good at solving any of the puzzles. We were teamed up with a large group of tipsy ladies who were there for a bachelorette party and the host tried hard to keep his cool while he explained the rules. These ladies kept interrupting by screaming “WOOOO!” and “YASSSS!” every few seconds. I thought it would be so funny to set a romance in the escape room because I couldn’t think of a less romantic place than in a room filled with WOOOO-yelling bachelorette party women and zombies.
The reason why we picked a zombie escape room activity in the first place was because my brother, sister and I are all obsessed with THE WALKING DEAD— we’ve seen all the episodes. So between my failed escape room experience, my love of zombies, and that I had always wanted to write a fun #ownvoices rom-com, this book idea came together perfectly. It’s a good (distracting) read for anyone who needs an entertaining, fast read for a few hours.
2. And yet you made it seem romantic enough 🙂 Do you plot as you go or is everything planned out beforehand?
I wish I could say otherwise, but I have no real outline when I draft. I have a really basic synopsis and go from there.
Fun trivia fact, I wrote THE PERFECT ESCAPE out of order. I wrote some of the action scenes first! I was taking an online writing workshop and we had to submit scenes each week based on the topics and themes covered in the lesson. I don’t think I’ll do that again (writing non-linearly), but it was an interesting thing to try.
3. I agree that sounds terrifying to me. Speaking of, what was the scariest part of writing The Perfect Escape?
I wanted this to be a humorous book, but I had to be careful around sensitive topics. Nate’s experience is somewhat based on my own family’s experience, with classism at the core of the challenges he faces. While I was okay with openly sharing some of my own experiences as a Korean-American in an all-white community, I was worried that if I brought up Nate’s family’s financial challenges, there was like a 20% chance that my very private parents would give me a lifetime silent treatment after this book came out. So far they haven’t said anything about the portrayal of Nate’s home life, so maybe they’re not mad at me. But it’s most likely that they haven’t finished reading the book yet.
4. Ah, hopefully, they’ll come around when they see how much everyone loves it! Which of the side characters were the most fun to write?
Lucy (Nate’s little sister) was someone who I added in the second draft (Nate was an only child in the first draft!). Lucy reminds me of Junie B. Jones. She’s a stubborn five-year-old and she says some pretty sweet, cute and absurd things in front of her family and her classmates, as five-year-olds tend to do.
I also really loved writing the characters of Zach the tech genius and Jaxon the athlete. They were so vastly different but so funny together.
5. Lucy is my favourite! I cannot see this book without her at all. If you were to create a playlist for The Perfect Escape which 3 songs would definitely be in there?
The book opens with Nate karaoking to Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees,” so that’s one song for sure. And I can see him also singing along to Lizzo’s “Good As Hell” and Tupac’s “Changes” when he thinks no one’s listening. I know who wouldn’t be on his playlist though— Maroon 5.
6. Haha yes, no Marron 5. After the ending we see, I’m not spoiling it for anyone but, will Nate and Kate still have time for zombies and escape rooms?
They FINALLY get their timing and priorities sorted out, so…
7. I see, keeping it vague. Anyway, I did some snooping around on Goodreads and is it true that we’re going to have a second book?
My next YA book is slated for June 2021 and it’s a rom-com standalone that takes place at a digital detox camp. It’s been a fun one to write! As for a sequel to THE PERFECT ESCAPE, I would love that to be the next book I write.
8. Oh my god, that sounds amazing! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for both of these books. What is one message you wish for readers to take away from The Perfect Escape?
I wanted to write a fun, unique story because escapism has always been important to me. I’m hearing from early readers that this book really has been the perfect escape for them during this unprecedented time. By design, THE PERFECT ESCAPE is not exactly your typical teen romantic comedy for a few reasons: there’s action and adventure with awkward nerds (with terrible timing) falling for each other, as well as underlying commentary on diversity, microaggressions, classism and privilege. I hope that readers will take away from THE PERFECT ESCAPE that they enjoyed the story and thought about some of the themes well after they put the book down.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
THE PERFECT ESCAPE
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…
RELEASE DATE: 7th April
Is The Perfect Escape on your TBR or have you read it yet?
Have you read any other light-hearted books about zombies or escape rooms? If yes, please leave your recommendations below!
What other light-hearted books have you read or are planning to read during these times?