Blog Tour, Interview & Giveaway: The Castaways by Jessika Fleck

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Blog Tour, Interview & Giveaway: The Castaways by Jessika Fleck

Thrilled to be a part of Blog Tour for The Castaways by Jessika Fleck! On today’s stop we have an exclusive interview with Jessika Fleck! Be sure to enter the tour-wide giveaway at the bottom (open internationally!).


The Castaways by Jessika Fleck

Category: Young Adult, Contemporary Fantasy
Publication: April 3rd, 2017; Entangled Teen
Purchase: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze… and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.



But everything’s clear. I do know where to go. “I’m going to find that boulder—” I suck in shallow breath. “The…hhh…maze.”

“It’s no use. We’ve tried everything. It doesn’t work! Wait!”

But I’m not listening because it has to work. It’s the only way. If it got me in, it’ll get me back out.

I run until my body, my mind, and, mostly, my lungs give up. Because, problem is, Will’s right. I don’t know how to find it.

I stop.

Will stops.

Bent at the waist, hands on my knees, I cough and spew, trying to catch my breath. The hyperventilation has passed, but my insistence on sprinting like I’m a track star when my
lungs and legs have no business running, has taken its toll.

I look up.

Will isn’t fazed. At some point he took off his shirt and now stands with his hands on his hips, chest rising and falling, barely winded. His abs flex with each effortless breath. “Get
it out of your system?”

It’s when my stomach springs that I realize I’m staring at his body. I quickly glance away and completely ignore his question. “Take me there.”

“I told you. It’s no use.”

“Please,” I whimper. Tears race down my face.

Tucking his T-shirt into the back of his pants, Will walks in another direction.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m taking you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

With Will now leading the way, I watch his suntanned back, the sweat beading at his shoulders and slowly, one by one, how the beads roll down the center crease. I’m in a daze
or a haze or a trance because all I see is his back, his muscles contracting and tightening with each step, and, like magic, we’re there.

The mossy boulder stands before us and, I swear, it mocks me in all its ordinary, commonplace glory.



I am extremely thankful for Jessika Fleck for speaking with me and answering my questions about The Castaways!

1. What kind of research did you do for your island maze setting?

For the island, I didn’t do a whole lot of research, but employed a bit of personal experience (I lived in Hawaii for several years) and filled the rest in with pure fiction. I did, however, look up exactly how to open a coconut, edible island plants, how to make an explosive with bat guano, plant based, waterproof containers, and I read a few articles on allergies for Charlie’s character, among other things. As for the maze, that was all based on personal experience (we do a corn maze every fall) and my imagination.

2. Were any parts of the book influenced from your personal experience?

Nothing big. Like I said above, I’ve lived on an island and have walked through countless corn mazes. I went to high school and am very aware of how cruel girls can be to other girls. I was bullied a bit in elementary school (nothing near what poor Olive went through) and I understand how the words people say to you and about you can dig deep and stick with you, even into adulthood. Mostly, I sprinkle in small things (it would be impossible not to), little experiences and moments and sayings that are personal to my life that no one would ever know unless you were extremely close to me. Funny tidbit… My husband recently read The Castaways and found three of these gems all in one chapter! We had a good laugh about it, because, of course, he knows me better than anyone. I also hide Easter eggs between books. If you look closely, you’ll find pop culture mentions or the names of plants I’ve made up or town names, etc… in multiple stories I’ve written. Hint: you’ll see the plant ‘moon root’ (Tilly makes Olive moon root tea) show up again in the fall of 2018 in THE OFFERING. 😉

3. Bullying plays a big part in this book, why was it important for you to have your MC bullied?

I wouldn’t say it was important for me to have my main character bullied, but that when Olive came to me as a character for this book, the bullying was already a part of her story, part of her identity. When I started thinking about writing The Castaways, the first part came to me after a friend shared with me that her daughter was dealing with the cruelest of cruel bullying. It really struck me on many levels and was something I knew I wanted to explore. But I don’t tend to write contemporary fiction, so I sat on the idea for a while. It wasn’t until that fall when my husband and I took our kids to a pumpkin patch and went through the corn maze that it all came together for me: the corn maze was the perfect place for Olive to run to when fleeing her bullies and what a fantastic portal it would make. So, yes, bullying is a very important subject and one that deserves much dialogue. At it’s core, The Castaways is about a teenage girl finding her strength after being bullied and I didn’t take lightly what a great responsibility telling this story would be.

4. The book description reminds me of the mystery surrounding the island on the TV show LOST, were you a big fan of the show, did it inspire you? If not what did inspire you to create this mysterious place?

I’ve actually never seen LOST! (::ducks::) My husband and I watched the first twenty minutes of the first episode and weren’t able to get into. Plus, one of my biggest fears is airplane crashes, soooo… (::ducks again::) As for what inspired me in my creation of the island… I wish I had some amazing answer, but I really don’t. The island evolved along with the story over many editing sessions. My hope, by the end, was that the island itself came across as its own character, that it had reasons for luring certain kids onto it and then keeping them there until they were ready to return home. Fingers crossed I pulled that off!

5. I love to ask authors who their Book Crush is? What book character have you read recently that you just fell in love with?

Oh goodness… Currently? 😉 Probably Roshar from The Winner’s Trilogy. I devoured those books in a matter of days! So well written. And while Arin was super dreamy, I fell hard for flawed and sassy Roshar which is a huge testament to Marie Rutkoski’s amazing talent (if you’ve not read it, (DO!) hint: he’s not super likable at first)!

Ahhh an unlikable character crush, you sound like me; I always go for the bad guys in books! Thank you so much for hanging with me on the blog today! – Kelly


Author Bio: Jessika Fleck

Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She is a regular contributor to the fantastic kidlit blog, Kidliterati, and is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.


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Prize Pack with The Castaways + swag. An Amazon gift card in the case of an international winner.

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