Today on the blog I have Stacey Kade, author of the newly released 738 Days. She is doing a Q&A for me and I’m so excited. I seriously loved this book so much so it was fun to find out some of the inner workings of Stacey’s mind when writing it.
The description of the book is very reminiscent of some popular news stories from the past few years. Was that your motivation for the story?
I’m a little bit obsessed with true crime, so yes, definitely. It was specifically the Elizabeth Smart case that triggered the idea. This is kind of a long story, so bear with me.
I was working as a copywriter for a large insurance company at the time. And one day, I was walking by the company museum/media center and found a crowd gathered around the television. This wasn’t long after 9/11, so the museum TV was always on CNN and a crowd watching meant bad news.
I stopped to find out what was going on. I don’t remember much about what was known at the point, but the conversation I had there is burned into my brain.
As part of my job, I frequently worked with the corporate lawyers in getting approvals. One of them—Dee—was one of the people there watching CNN when I arrived. Dee had a reputation for being tough but professional. Still, what she said at that point took me completely off guard.
She clucked her tongue. “That’s too bad. They’ll never find her alive.
My face must have shown my shock. Because she just shook her head at me, like I was hopelessly naive. “They never do.” And then she walked away, continuing to her office.
I knew logically that she was right. She was just saying what everyone else was thinking. (At that point, it was still years before Jaycee Dugard would be found alive. Same with the women in Ohio: Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, and Georgina DeJesus.)
Still, I couldn’t help but think about the girl, Elizabeth, if she was still alive and what it must have been like to know that, with every hour going by, more and more people were writing you off as a lost cause, dead. It struck me particularly hard as I have a sister who, at the time, was just a year younger than Elizabeth.
That conversation, that moment, stuck with me. Especially when, against all odds, Elizabeth was found alive nine months later. (When that news broke, I went out of my way to tell Dee, who was as pleased as anyone that there was a happy ending.)
The media response to her recovery was huge. Elizabeth Smart’s face was everywhere. And again, I found myself trying to imagine what that must have been like. How do you go back to being a normal teenager when you’ve lived through something this horrible and everyone in the world knows the awful details?
It’s not just the trauma of the events themselves but how those events and the publicity around them change how people see you. You’re stuck with a label (victim or survivor) as soon as people realize who you are. How do you find your way through that? How do you date or have a relationship without that label hanging over your head?
All of those questions were at the heart of what would become 738 DAYS.
What made you decide to tell the story from the perspective of years later and not right after she got back?
I wanted to write a romance. Setting the story immediately after her escape would have put the major focus on her recovery, which is fine but not the story I wanted to tell. I felt like Amanda needed time to heal—emotionally, physically, and psychologically—before romance could be a possibility. The trigger, in this case, is that she’s been free now for as long as she was held (738 days) and in her head, that is the mile marker by which she feels she should be recovered. Of course, that’s not really a rational expectation, given what she went through, but it is the key to her frustration with herself and why she’s so motivated to pursue change.
Amanda and Chase seem like complete opposite stories. Amanda a tragedy and Chase a typical ‘Hollywood’ story. What was your inspiration to connect these two characters?
Years after the Elizabeth Smart coverage, I read a brief “celebrity gossip item” that indicated that Natalee Holloway’s mother was dating Jon-Benet Ramsey’s father. I don’t know if it was true or not, but it made sense to me that these two people would, perhaps, understand each other better than the average person.
For Amanda and Chase, I wanted two people who truly understood the darker side of fame. Amanda’s family needed the media exposure to keep the focus on the search for her, but the public interest in her case didn’t go away when she was found. Instead, she’s somewhat of a public figure, even though she doesn’t want to be. Chase knows that the public that adores you one second can turn on you in the next. Fame is a perishable commodity. He needs it, she doesn’t want it. I liked the idea of that being an obstacle or conflict in their relationship.
If you could cast your book who would play Chase and who would play Amanda?
I always “cast” my books when I start writing because it helps me visualize the scenes. I doubt that my casting would hold up in a real-world movie or tv scenario, but Anna Kendrick for Amanda—because I think she’s fantastic and has the capacity to show vulnerability without seeming or timid—and a cross between Ben McKenzie and Jensen Ackles for Chase.
If you could write a book with one other author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’m kind of a control freak, unfortunately. It’s true in general, but particularly with writing. So, I’m not sure either of us would enjoy a co-authoring experience!
What books have you read lately that you would recommend?
Oh, gosh, I LOVED Borderline by Mishell Baker. I adore a good urban fantasy, and I think they’re kind of hard to find nowadays. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
And the questions I ask everyone, what is the one accessory or clothing item you couldn’t live without?
Yoga pants! Best invention ever.738 Days by Stacey Kade
Published by Forge Books
Published: June 7th 2016
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At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.
Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.
To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?
3 Finished Copies of 738 DAYS (US Only)