Sorry for the late delay, but this interview just came in. I am without phone or internet service since Monday...
SC : Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
JP: There are five PoVs in The Beautiful Dead. I'll discuss them in order of appearance. The Beautiful Dead takes its name from the idea that each of the four pop stars we follow has had to sacrifice part of her life in pursuit of celebrity dreams.
Jieun (appearance 15, real age 22, ghost) is a poltergeist who evolves from antagonist, to something we aren't quite sure of, to protagonist by the end of the book. She was bullied in school, killed herself, and now spends her death as a ghost trying to protect the unloved, and get even with people she feels represent the kind of kids who picked on her. She's singled out Yubin, a Korean pop star who went to her school, for the bulk of her punishment, but somewhere in the process of pretending to be Yubin's electronic friend, discovers a true friendship with her nemesis which she never had in life.
Yubin (age: 24, psychic) is a lonely Korean pop star, She's a misanthrope and an empath. Go figure. Just because she feels the emotions the people around her are feeling in what she calls her 'second heart,' doesn't mean she understands why they feel the way they do. To make matters worse, she's got a big head, and needs to learn how to open up and be less judgmental in order to find contentment. Jieun is pretty much her only friend at the start of the novel. She feels like becoming a star hasn't given her life any meaning and wants to change that.
Rena (Age 21, human) doesn't have any powers, but she, like all the other protagonists except Jieun, is a member of the same Korean pop group as Yubin. She's also the daughter of the CEO of her record label. She's the victim of nepotism's backlash because her father is emotionally abusive. She desperately needs to find a way out of his shadow.
Somi (age 18, human ) is loveable and energetic. She's the kind of person who makes it really hard to stay in a bad mood if you're around her. She's the rapper of the group, and struggles to be taken seriously due to having two hearing aids, and a learning disability on top of that. She's sick of people always telling her what she can't do either because of her hearing impairment or ADD.
Tae-Eun (Age 21, werefox, sorceress) starts the story as a human woman, who has been coerced and sexually abused by her managers, but a near death experienced awakens her latent supernatural nature and she becomes a werefox, the great great great great great great granddaughter of a full blooded nine-tailed fox woman called a gumiho. Her story is about reclaiming personal power, and finding inner strength when her "dream" of becoming an idol has stripped away everything she had to live for and become a nightmare. The spirit of her grandmother is trying to teach her to do magic, but the most important ingredient of a successful spell is faith in yourself, a quality that at the beginning she's sorely lacking.
SC: Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
JP: I believe in the paranormal in the sense that I believe that there's a whole lot more in this world and universe that we don't understand than do. I also had out of body experiences (OBEs) from the age of 12 through my mid 20s. A lot of uncanny stuff happened in the old house I grew up in - objects moving on their own, CD players turning on and picking 'favorite' songs without anyone touching them, but going through them all would be enough for a memoir the length of my novel. I use some of my personal experiences as foundations for descriptions of Yubin's interaction with the spirit world, etc.
I like to think that one day we'll have the technology to transform things like ghosts, what we now call the paranormal, into an exciting new field of scientific discovery.
SC: What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
JP: I'm almost finished with my second novel, Grey, which explores alien abduction in the Pacific Northwest USA. After that it's a toss up between either trying my hand at a LitRPG, or starting in on a series of character specific novellas focusing on the protagonists of The Beautiful Dead before jumping into a full length second novel where they are functioning as a group.
The Beautiful Dead: A Tale of K-Pop, Ghosts,
and Nine-Tailed Fox Women
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Publisher: Apollo and Nyx Publishing
Date of Publication: September 22, 2017
Number of pages: 346 (Print)
Word Count: 97k Words
Cover Artist: Damonza
A lonely Korean pop star learns her high school classmate died five years ago. So why are they still texting?
Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts before anyone knew if they'd be successful, but that's how pop stars are made in Korea. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn't. She doesn't even like the girls she performs with.
She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever do is text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show The Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her.
If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive the show, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what's trying to kill them.
Excerpt 3 (586 words):
Yubin looked at the gumiho. A moment of stunned silence settled between the two women like a moment somehow out of time and place untouched by the urgent emotions of the now. Yubin stood in the hall beside the bathroom, and unable to see Michi, Tae-eun crouched beside her bed. Time caught up.
“Aaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeee!!!” God, that woman has powerful lungs.
“Yubin!” Tae-eun yelled.
Yubin blinked and paused her noise upon recognizing her name in the twisted animal sounds spilling from Tae-eun’s throat. It gave Tae-eun the moment she needed to make the sign of the cross, direct her eyes toward the ceiling and say “Sorry…” in apology for abusing the name of The Lord.
“Aaaaaiiiiiiiieeeeeee!!!!!!!!!” Yubin shrieked again.
The sound made Tae-eun’s head rattle. It struck her between the eyes as if the other woman tried in earnest to give Tae-eun the world’s first sonic lobotomy. If the first call had been a shriek of surprise, the tail end of the latter was most certainly a battle cry. Tae-eun’s unnie darted to the minibar, and hurled a heavy glass at Tae-eun’s skull. She dodged out of the way, but then Rena appeared behind her.
“What the..?” Was all Rena had time to say before leaping on to Tae-eun’s bed. She rolled to the head board and armed herself with a pillow. Yubin seemed ready to hurl a pack of M&Ms at Tae-eun when Rena clobbered the werefox with the pillow on top of the head.
Owwweee! What the hell? It didn’t hurt, but what else was she supposed to think when she was suddenly attacked by her best friend and the SIITY group leader.
“Rena-ya!” Yubin called, and somehow that was all Rena needed to know that Yubin required a pillow. Rena tossed one in Yubin’s direction, spun, and smashed her own pillow into Tae-eun’s muzzle. That one really did hurt. The Gumiho screamed as sparkles swam through her vision.
Yubin hadn’t hit Tae-eun yet, but that was only because she was filling the pillow case with cans of coke and mini bottles of alcohol. The leader whirled the 420 thread count sack of pain over her head, and landed a blow that sounded with an audible crack against Tae-eun’s jaw.
A loud snapping sound escaped the bathroom. Something darted through the air like a flying snake. Michi had been laughing, at the site of the three meter werefox being pillow pounded by two skinny girls half her size, but then the shark woman started gagging. Tae-eun couldn’t see what had happened because at first Yubin blocked her view, and now she was too busy huddling on the floor with her arms protecting her head in the fetal position.
“Don’t… “ another powerful blow to the back of the head from Rena. Damn she’s strong!” “you…!” Yubin’s weighted blow crashed down on her back. Owe! “realize…!” another blow from Rena as she downed her feather filled club like an executioner’s axe. “that I could…!” Yubin delivered another painful blow to Tae-eun’s side and then Rena and Yubin hit her at exactly the same time.
Tae-eun had enough.
Moving faster than any living creature her size should have been able, she grabbed one of her attackers in each of her massive hands. She threw Rena forcefully on to her own bed, and then tossed Yubin effortlessly onto the other where Michi had been sitting.
“…tear you apart!” Neither of the women had a proper sense of self preservation. Attacking a gumiho with pillows… With pillows!
About the Author:
Jun has lived in Asia for the better part of the last decade. During his years in Korea, he made a point of learning about and getting as close to the Korean entertainment industry as possible while writing his first novel "The Beautiful Dead." He enjoys telling stories about monstrous humans and humanized monsters.
He has a MFA from the University of California - Riverside, graduated with a BA in English Cum Laude from the University of Washington - Seattle, and attended Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea as an exchange student.