Karen’s Killer Book Bench #YA #Magical #Realism: THE DARKNESS RISES by Stacy Stokes

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Teen & Young Adult Magical Realism


A gripping speculative thriller perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and Ginny Myers Sain, about one girl with the power to see death before it happens—and the terrible consequences she faces when saving someone goes wrong.


Whitney knows what death looks like. Since she was seven, she’s seen it hover over strangers’ heads in dark, rippling clouds. Sometimes she can save people from the darkness. Sometimes she can’t. But she’s never questioned if she should try. Until the unthinkable happens—and a person she saves becomes the perpetrator of a horrific school shooting.

Now Whitney will do anything to escape the memory of last year’s tragedy and the guilt that gnaws at her for her role in it. Even if that means quitting dance—the thing she loves most—and hiding her ability from her family and friends. But most importantly, no one can know what really happened last year.

Then Whitney finds an ominous message in her locker and realizes someone knows her secret. As the threats pile up, one thing becomes clear—someone wants payback for what she did. And if she’s going to survive the year, she must track down whoever is after her before it’s too late.


Teen & Young Adult Magical Realism


Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a full-time writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself.

Hello! Thank you so much for having me. I’m Stacy Stokes, author of The Darkness Rises and Remember Me Gone, both speculative thrillers with Viking Books. I grew up in Texas but currently live in the Bay Area with my family. When I’m not writing, I work as a marketing professional in the consumer packaged goods industry. You can usually find me hiking the hills of the East Bay, hanging out with friends or listening to audio books like it’s my job while snacking on something of the gummy varietal.

1. What genre(s) do you write and why?

I’ve always gravitated toward stories that have a magical or supernatural twist, which is probably why my primary genre is Speculative Fiction. As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of authors like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, and I’d often steal my mom’s Stephen King books when she left them out (which was all the time.) When I realized I wanted to be a writer I started writing stories like the ones I grew up reading—who-done-it thrillers grounded in this world, but where something is always slightly askew.

2. If you were to choose one superpower, what would it be?

I love to travel and always regretted not paying more attention in my Spanish and French classes so I’d love to be able to magically understand and speak every language. Second runner up would be teleportation, so I could magically pop to places all around the world…and maybe even other worlds. Actually can I pick two?

3. Do you ever get stuck when you’re writing a book? What do you do to get “unstuck”?

I’m a panster, so I get stuck all the time when trying to figure out what I want a story to be. I have two tricks for helping me find a way forward—the first is to try the opposite of whatever it is I currently have my character doing in the scene. I can’t tell you how many times this has led to me discovering a whole new direction I didn’t even know my book needed. The second is to go for a walk—there’s nothing like fresh air and movement to get the creative juices flowing.

4. What is your least favorite part of writing?

Writing the first draft. That probably sounds odd since that’s often the primary part of the writing process, but because I’m a horrible outliner I often slowly plod through first drafts, struggling to find where I’m going, which leads to lots of stops and starts. I much prefer the revision process, because that’s where I get to figure out how to make the story sing. It’s like putting together a puzzle—I have the frame built, now I get to put the picture together.

5. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

My partner is the chef of the family, so if I’m the one preparing dinner we’re probably ordering take out. (Trust me, it better for everyone involved.) My favorite food is sushi, so I’d probably order that from my favorite local spot. And depending on the weather, we’d ideally eat it outside on the deck. I love dining alfresco on a warm evening.

6. What is your typical day like?

I wake up around 6am (yes, even on the weekends) and take my dog, Elvis Presley, out for a walk. Once we’re back, my two-year-old has usually figured out how to escape from her room despite my best efforts, which means cobbling together breakfast while she clings to my side and drops scraps on the ground for Elvis. If it’s a weekend, we usually head to the park or a museum until lunch, then it’s down for a nap while I get my best writing in. After that, more chaos and playtime, maybe a walk, followed by dinner, bedtime, and if I’m very lucky, more writing time. Weekdays are the similar but replace playtime with my day job. Rinse and repeat.

7. What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?

I’d have to say emotion. I always start with the concept before anything else. In the case of The Darkness Rises, the idea came to me when a line of text sprang into my head—I was seven the first time I saw the darkness—and I immediately knew I wanted to write a book about a girl who could see when someone was about to die in the form of a dark cloud hovering over their heads. But beyond that, I didn’t know much else. I started to imagine who the girl was, why she saw the clouds, and what happened to her because of it. Then I started drafting.

It’s not uncommon for my first draft to primarily be plot points and action scenes that read a little flat, because it’s not until the revision process that I really start to layer in the emotion. I need to find the heart of the story before I can get to the emotion, which sometimes takes me several rounds of revisions to discover.

8. How likely are the people you meet going to end up in your next book?

Well, I supposed that depends on whether or not they are nice to me, lol. But in all seriousness, I’ve never overtly put a person I know into one of my stories. It’s usually not until years after the story is finished that I can step back and say, “hey, that reminds me of so and so.” The subconscious is very powerful.

9. Tell us about your hero. Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

My hero would have to be my mom. Her greatest strength and weakness is her ability to care for others. She is an amazing human and caregiver, sometimes at the detriment to herself.

10. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?

My forthcoming book, The Darkness Rises, is available April 9, 2024 wherever books are sold. More info below. If you’re keen to order and don’t have a local favorite, I’d be thrilled if you’d consider ordering from my favorite local indie, A Great Good Place for Books. If you let them know through their website and reference this article, I’d be happy to sign your copy.

About Author Stacy Stokes

Stacy Stokes is a lifelong lover of stories, former improv comedy geek, and marketing professional. Her debut novel Remember Me Gone was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominee. She graduated with a BBA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. She currently lives with her family in the Bay Area. To learn more please visit her online at www.stacystokes.com


Links to Stacy’s websites, blogs, books, #ad etc.:

Happy Reading!


Thanks, Stacy, for sharing your book with us!

Don’t miss the chance to read this book!


5 thoughts on “Karen’s Killer Book Bench #YA #Magical #Realism: THE DARKNESS RISES by Stacy Stokes”

  1. Quite the premise and even more so, the resulting problem.

    A story I’d like to read.

    Thanks, Stacy and Karen

  2. Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench, Stacy. What a dilemma to present to a kid! I’m not sure even an adult can handle that kind of “gift” well. I’m not sure I would be able to figure out what to do in these cases, especially with people I know. Keeping it a secret would rip at your emotions. Poor girl. It will be interesting to see how Whitney handles the problem. Thanks for sharing your book with us today.

  3. I loved R.L. Stine growing up! I actually find the way you write inspiring–I’ve always had a hard time with first drafts in that I also want them to read like third and fourth drafts, but I don’t know how to stop my inner voice from demanding a higher quality than what my stream of consciousness trance can provide.
    This book sounds really good. So glad I was able to find it here.

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