I read The Perfect Escape weeks ago and I still cannot get over how much I love it! Zombies, amazing character dynamics, and fantastic banter. It’s quickly sky rocketing into one of my favorite books and I cannot wait to read everything Suzanne Park writes! Keep reading to see all the questions I had immediately after finishing.
The Perfect Escape
Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich, just like everyone else at the elite private school where he’s a scholarship student. When one of the wealthiest kids at school offers Nate a huge sum of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family—and they need the money, since Nate’s dad just lost his job. But is compromising his integrity worth it?
Kate Anderson wants a fresh start, away from her controlling father. She fantasizes about escaping to New York, where she can pursue her dreams. But how can Kate get there when she can’t even buy dinner without his approval?
Worlds collide when Nate meets Kate at the zombie-themed escape room where they both work. As sparks fly, fate steps in: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize that could solve all their problems. The real challenge? Making it through the weekend with their hearts intact…
Do you feel like you’re more like Nate or Kate? Was one POV harder to write?
I’m definitely more like the main character, Nate. Kind of like the Earth’s surface water percentage, I’m maybe 70 percent Nate, 30 percent Kate.
Nate is terrified of disappointing his strict Korean parents, and I felt a lot of the same parental pressures growing up, especially when it came to academics. I know someone who’s named Princeton though, so I’m glad my parents weren’t THAT extreme — but they were still pretty intense!
Nate’s family is strapped financially, and as such Nate is very focused on making money. I wasn’t as obsessed with money as Nate is in the book, but I did start working at age 15 because it was important for me to have “just in case” funds. My first job was at Opryland USA country music theme park — picture an Asian-American teenage girl in an old-timey costume selling country music souvenirs out of a wooden wagon. Pretty funny now that I think about it.
I found that Nate was harder for me to write because some of his hardships were loosely based on events from my childhood. While I wanted to openly share some of my own experiences as a Korean-American in an all white community in Tennessee, I was worried that if I brought up Nate’s family’s financial challenges, there was a teeny chance that my parents would never speak to me 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. Or maybe they haven’t finished reading the book yet and that hail and brimstone reckoning is yet to come.
Kate’s story came to me more quickly and easily, and a small part of her life was based on my own. She wants to leave home to pursue an acting career, but her father wants Kate to follow in his footsteps and work at his company. What I share with Kate is the desire to pursue my own creative path, which isn’t exactly what my risk-averse parents wanted for me. For so many years they wanted the word “Doctor” in front of my name, or the word “Esquire” to follow it. In their dream world, I would actually have both of those advanced degrees. But that just wasn’t what I was put on this Earth to do, and I think they see that now.
But don’t get me wrong, if I announced today I was going to take my MCATs and apply for med school, they’d throw a big party and officially declare me their favorite child.
As someone obsessed with zombies, why did you choose a zombie escape room?
For my sister’s birthday a few years ago, my brother, sister and I attempted (and failed) a zombie escape room challenge. There were some scantily-clad bachelorette party ladies in our same time slot who screamed and shrieked a lot (and that was before we entered the escape room mind you— they were no zombies in our midst) and as soon as I saw them stroll in, I remember thinking, “I have to write about this someday.”
Do you have a zombie survival plan already?
I’ve been moderately obsessed (okay, maybe really obsessed) with zombies and apocalypse survival for a while now, and it all started when the first episode of THE WALKING DEAD aired. I’d read some TWD comics and quickly got hooked on the show. After watching a few episodes I started thinking, “Wait, would I know what to do in a zombie apocalypse?” and the answer was OH SH*T, NOPE. So I bought “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times” and “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead” and read them both cover to cover. I’ve marked a lot of pages with post-it notes so if and when the time comes, I can thumb to the important parts quickly. I also learned that if you search online for “zombie apocalypse survival tips,” you come across some really wild YouTube videos featuring some knowledgeable, heavily-armored bunker enthusiasts. I’m not anywhere near bunker-level preparedness— but I could maybe get by a couple of weeks with my emergency preparedness kits and could hopefully come up with a plan as I thumb through my survival guides while stress-eating stale Doritos.
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, Suzanne 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. She 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.
Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA Degree from UCLA. She was selected for PitchWars and is represented by Brent Taylor of Triada US Literary Agency. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Her YA romantic comedy debut, THE PERFECT ESCAPE, releases April 7, 2020 and her adult romcom LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT comes out August 4, 2020.