If you’ve heard of a book called Wicked Fox, you know from my screaming, then you would know of Kat Cho. After finishing Wicked Fox, I knew I had to contact Kat and see if she would agree to answer some questions I had about Wicked Fox and writing.
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.
Interview with Kat
One of my favorite parts of WICKED FOX were the mother/child relationships. Can you talk about what it was like to write these relationships?
It was both very natural and one of the hardest parts of writing the book at the same time. I wanted to show relationships outside of the ones between friends and teens because I think that it’s important to show how our family shapes who we are becoming in these coming of age stories. And for me, the biggest influences were my parents. I also wanted to acknowledge that there are parental figures that aren’t the traditional parents that could provide guidance and support (this is shown with Jihoon’s relationship with his grandmother). I also wanted to explore how it’s often hard to understand why parents do what they do and how it could make a kid feel lonely or isolated. Our parents aren’t perfect, so even if they want what’s best for us they might go about it the wrong way. Still, at the end of the day the point of these relationships in WICKED FOX is to show different aspects of love and how it manifests (the good and the bad ways).
Were the characters similar throughout the drafts of WICKED FOX or did you make major changes? Was Jihoon always so charming!?
Oh definitely not. Jihoon was probably always charming, but there were more broody versions for sure. Miyoung changed the most from the first draft to the current version. I always knew that she would have a guilty conscience over what she is and how she lives, but I didn’t know how that would show up, so there were versions where she was very meek. However, I scrapped those versions because that Miyoung wasn’t really trying that hard to change her situation. Yena was always a hard character to get to know. I always knew she did horrific things, but I didn’t know why she did them at first. Once I cracked that it was obviously because she loved her daughter it was much easier to figure her out. The characters that were always the same were definitely Somin, Changwan and Junu.
Miyoung has to figure out how to make sense of her identity in WICKED FOX, can you talk about why this was an important story for you to tell?
I think that people are constantly trying to figure out who they are. This first starts to happen when we’re teens. It’s a point in our lives where we start to wonder what our place will be in the world, when we can see that the future is possibly looming (college, jobs, adulting!) To be honest, I have to say that this feeling really doesn’t go away, it just goes from finding ourselves to re-finding ourselves. That’s why I think YA novels are so well-loved by people beyond their teen years as well. But, to answer the actual question, for me personally I could relate to Miyoung’s sense of feeling between two worlds and wanting to know how she fit into both. Without realizing it I had written my own struggle with being a diaspora Korean kid into the book. It was hard to figure out the Korean part of me when I thought it constantly clashed with the American side of me. And I ended up exploring that with a character that was both supernatural and human.
How has your debut journey been?
It’s been amazing! I am SO lucky because I have amazing friends who are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders! They have given me great advice and been there to celebrate with me. To be honest, I was a little bit scared writing a book that was so heavily influenced by Korean culture and dramas. I didn’t know if anyone but me and my friends would want to read something like that. But, I have been so floored by the amazing support that readers and bloggers have given WICKED FOX. Every time I see someone enjoying my book it still feels so surreal that the story is out there and people are reading it. I mostly wanted to write a story that had heart and fun and that paid homage to books that entertained me when I was younger. And I love to see that it’s providing entertainment to others!
Can you talk about the first time you ever felt represented in the media?
Probably when Sandra Oh said “I love you” in Korean to her parents at the Emmys.
Can you talk a little about the next book? That ending left my mouth hanging open!
It starts fairly soon after the end of book 1. Many of the characters from WICKED FOX will be back! And it will involve a mysterious figure from someone’s past coming back and stirring things up.