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Fanbase Press Interviews Stacy Stokes on the Upcoming Release of the Speculative Thriller, ‘The Darkness Rises,’ with Viking for Young Readers

The following is an interview with writer Stacy Stokes regarding the upcoming release of the speculative thriller, The Darkness Rises, through Viking for Young Readers. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Stokes about her creative process in bringing the world and characters to life on the page, what she hopes that readers will take away from the story, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Darkness Rises! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this story?

Stacy Stokes: Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

The Darkness Rises is a speculative thriller that follows Whitney, a high school student who sees dark clouds hovering over people when they are in danger. Since she was seven, she’s always tried to save people when she sees the warnings ghosting over their heads. But after she saves a boy from her school who goes on to do something horrible, she’s wracked with guilt and not sure if it’s her place to interfere. Then she receives an ominous note in her locker and realizes someone knows her secret about her role in last year’s tragedy. They want revenge, and as the threats escalate, she has to figure out who’s behind the messages before it’s too late.

BD: The story is an incredibly impactful one, tackling many topics which are directly impacting and affecting young people today. How would you describe your creative process in bringing this story to life and your approach to discussing these challenging, yet necessary, topics?

SS: The initial idea for the book came when I was cleaning my apartment. Out of nowhere, a line popped into my head: I was seven the first time I saw the darkness.

I knew immediately that I wanted to write a story about a girl who saw death before it happened in the form of a rippling black cloud, warning of danger. But beyond that initial nugget-of-an-idea, I had no idea how Whitney’s story would take shape. In fact, it took me over a dozen drafts to finally figure it out.

Around the same time I was drafting the concept, news of another tragic school shooting broke. It was horrible, and while I wanted to look away from the atrocities of gun violence happening in our country, I found that I couldn’t. I started to think about Whitney and her gift. What would happen if she had been at that school the day of the shooting? Could she have saved her classmates? What if she knew the shooter?

Stacy Stokes author photo

The Darkness Rises became not just a thriller about a girl struggling to come to grips with her power and someone looking for revenge, but a way for me to process my own grief about what was happening in the U.S. It helped me cope with my emotions and the realities my daughter will face in the classroom. My hope is that it will help others process similar feelings, as well.

BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Whitney’s story will connect with and impact readers?

SS: Whitney, at her core, is a brave girl who suffered a terribly tragedy and now has to face her worst fears. Except she doesn’t realize how brave she is. She doesn’t understand that she’s recovering from trauma, and that she doesn’t have to suffer alone. It takes her most of the book to finally understand these things, and to realize that she’s forcing herself to suffer by letting her past become a prison. I hope that through Whitney’s journey of self-discovery, readers will see that there is strength in leaning on the people around them for support. And there is bravery in the act of learning from mistakes rather than punishing yourself.

BD: What makes Viking for Young Readers the perfect home for this story?

SS: Kelsey Murphy and Want Chyi, my editors, were amazing throughout this process. They saw what this book could be and pushed me to dig deeper and write a story that was both a page-turning speculative thriller and an emotional resonate narrative exploring the impact of gun violence on communities. I’m so proud of this book, and it’s all thanks to their tireless commitment to make it the best story it could possibly be.

BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

SS: I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up my debut with Viking, Remember Me Gone, that’s currently available everywhere books are sold. I like to describe it as The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Karen McMannis’s One of Us Is Lying.

But my latest work in process is a middle grade horror book about a murderous shadow and the girl it wants as a playmate. As a kid, I loved scary stories and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing something that would have kept ten-year-old Stacy awake into the wee hours of the morning. I’m having a ton of fun trying something new!

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Darkness Rises and your other work?

SS: You can sign up for my newsletter at or follow on X or Instagram at @stacyastokes.

Thank you so much for having me again!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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