Candace Kade grew up in China and currently lives in Austin, Texas. When she’s not missing Chinese food, she’s busy writing, exploring new countries, volunteering, hiking in national parks, teaching her husband Mandarin, and keeping a baby human alive.
In this interview, Candace talks with us about her debut novel in The Hybrid Series, Enhanced.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
Enhanced was inspired by two events. First, when I was four years old, my family moved from Cleveland, Ohio to rural China.
I spent most of my childhood, and some of my adult, years living in China. I’ve always wanted to write a story based loosely off of my experiences and love for Asian culture. This became even more true during COVID when traveling back to China became physically impossible. Writing this series became a way for me to get to go back home.
The second inspirational event was a road trip in 2018. My car’s CD player broke and I was forced to listen to the radio. An interesting program came on about CRISPR gene editing technology.
I was hooked.
Even when the program ended, my overly imaginative mind couldn’t stop thinking about CRISPR. What would our world look like if people could select their own genetics? Most of all, what would it be like if you were born naturally but trying to make it in a society filled with the genetically Enhanced?
In stepped Lee Urban, a spunky girl determined to make it despite having all the wrong genetics.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Urban straddles the world of the genetically Enhanced and Naturals. She feels like she fits in neither society—like a fraud.
Urban wants nothing more than to become an Artist and live in New Beijing’s Metropolis. In order to do that, she’s forced to play hide and seek with her genetics and get a high social score—both of which can be deadly games.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Coral for sure! I had very specific plans for her but she rebelled and well, let’s just say she blazed her own trial.
One of the things I love about Coral is how in a world obsessed with status and social scores, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She says exactly what’s on her mind. Thanks to Coral and her sass, I had to completely rewrite the end multiple times.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
We’re bombarded by information on a daily basis. From texts, to social media, billboard ads, to emails. I personally can’t keep up with all of it, much less remember it.
Stories have the power to be remembered—to resonate at a deep, heart level. They can make us long for something more and point us toward true hope.
FF: What can readers expect from the rest of this series?
Deeper themes of identity, home, family and belonging.
Of course, there will also be death-deifying motorcycle races, interesting new worlds, futuristic tech, surprise plot twists, a hint of romance, and suspicious characters lurking behind every delivery-bot.
Oh, and more delicious food! Always food.
FF: How do you get into the right frame of mind to write for your genre/audience?
For my normal writing routine, I have two modes. Go to a coffee shop or, write in my shared home office with my husband. In the later scenario, I first 1) make sure said husband is absent (sorry, I love you babe!), 2) brew a cup of green tea, and finally, 3) blast my Asian fusion playlist.
If I’m really in a rut, I’ll open up my old phone from Beijing and look through pictures of my time there when I first wrote Enhanced. That always gets the creative juices flowing.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
My hope is anyone who’s ever felt alone, like an outsider, or has had trouble accepting and seeing their own worth will feel seen, heard and loved. You’re not alone.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
This is very specific to my book but I’d say balancing Asian and Western culture.
I wanted my book to be 100% true to Chinese cultural but there were many things in my initial drafts that my American beta readers didn’t understand and were distracting from the story. It’s been an interesting balance act for sure.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
Nova McBee has played a huge part in encouraging me to step out in faith and seriously peruse this crazy life called being an author. I will always be grateful to her. Her Calculated series (currently being turned into a film with the screenplay writer from Narnia) is incredible!
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
For starters, without my faith, I wouldn’t even be a writer. God very clearly put writing on my heart from an early age. For a long time, I just wasn’t sure what that looked like or how to ascend Mount Everest, aka get published.
Also, I’m incredibly passionate about writing stories where flawed characters find their worth, value, and identity. As a Christian, I believe all humans have eternal worth as image bearers of God. I love writing about that.
The Hybrid Series #1
Genres: Sci-Fi/Cyber Punk/Dystopian
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Lee Urban is living a lie.
In a society where everyone’s DNA determines their destiny, being a Natural means automatic relegation to the gritty and dangerous Outskirts. With the harnessed power of gene-editing, the ability to create a super-human race has transformed the world and offered the opportunity of a genetically enhanced life. But only to those who can afford it.
Born a Natural, Lee Urban was adopted into the Enhanced high society of the Asian Federation and forced to conceal her genetic roots. When her dream of attending Peking University becomes a reality, she is determined to go despite a warning from a mysterious source.
Targeted by a hacker bent on exposing her true DNA, Urban faces off with an Artificial Intelligence Game that puts her—and her lies—to the test. What was supposed to be a dream come true turns into a lethal gamble of hide-and-seek with her genetics. Can Urban continue the act, or will the cracks in her story expose her and endanger her family?
Buy Enhanced from the FF Store HERE!
Buy Enhanced from Amazon HERE!