“Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula”
by Elise Stokes
Genre: Young Adult
Medium: Available in Paperback and eBook format
Narrative: First person narrative of Cassidy Jones
GoodReads Summary: Fourteen-year-old Cassidy Jones wakes up the morning after a minor accident in the laboratory of a world-renowned geneticist to discover that her body has undergone some bizarre physical changes. Her senses, strength, and speed have been radically enhanced.
After exploring her newfound abilities, Cassidy learns that the geneticist, Professor Serena Phillips, is missing and that foul play is suspected. Terrified that her physical changes and Professor Phillips' disappearance are somehow connected, Cassidy decides to keep her strange transformation a secret. That is, until she meets the professor's brilliant and mysterious fifteen-year-old son, Emery. An unlikely duo, they set out to find Emery's mother, who is key in explaining Cassidy's newly acquired superpowers.
Their lives are put at risk when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous, action-packed adventure. Soon they are forced to confront a maniacal villain willing to do anything - including murder - to reach his own ambitious goals.
I saw the cover of this book and was immediately drawn in. The hand drawn cover of the young redhead with an intriguing boy in glasses looking back at her had me captivated before one word was even read. Elise Stokes is not only the genius behind Cassidy Jones, but she also had the tremendous smarts to have Kelly Carter from Mad Spider Studio design the eye catching cover.
Between the cover laid the world of the all american teenager, Cassidy Jones. I love how the story begins with Cassidy's day to day life, giving a reader a glimpse at what the fourteen-year-old is all about. She has the same problems that any teen might acquire in this day and age. Yet, when she bangs her head and inhales the mysterious secret formula in the lab of Professor Serena Phillips, it doesn't change who she fundamentally is.
As Cassidy begins to notice the changes within herself and the sudden disappearance of the Professor, the perfect wrench is thrown into her life in the form of Emery, the Professor's son. The handsome fifteen-year-old depicted on the cover is not at all what Cassidy expected. He's smart, a little geeky, but has a big heart and the knowledge to help Cassidy through the changes she's beginning to experience. The bond that the two teens form is not those of an epic romance, but the beginning of a trusting and lasting friendship. Although I do hope for a little teen romance as the series progresses to the next novel, “Cassidy Jones and Vulcan's Gift”.
Cassidy is not the typical superhero, but she is the best one I have read to date. She's flawed in her own way. She makes decisions sometimes as a fourteen-year-old and not at the new super being she has become. All in all, Cassidy is someone you want on your side who will give you one adventurous ride.
If you're looking for adventure, suspense, and a kick-ass female superhero, The Cassidy Jones Adventure series is most definitely for you.
Interview with author, Elise Stokes.
LG: How did you and Kelly Carter come up with the brilliant cover design for Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula?
ES: The cover is all Kelly. I provided her a brief description of the story and main characters and a few images of young teens that I sort of envisioned Cassidy and Emery resembling. From that scant information, Kelly created character images and a setting that are spot-on. I mean, that is Cassidy. Kelly captures her personality in that beautiful face. What especially blew me away were the elements she included that I hadn’t told her about, such as the glass on the door and the untidiness of Serena’s laboratory. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect cover for my first book.
I love my second book’s cover, too. The moonlit woods with that menacing character lurking in the background and Cassidy looking like a total kick-butt—oober cool! I feel very fortunate to have happened upon Mad Spider Studio online. Kelly Carter can do anything!
LG: What was your inspiration for Cassidy? How did her character come about?
ES: My husband lit that spark. Having said that, I need to backtrack for a moment. I loved writing when I was a kid. In fact, I still have my first book, a mystery written on lined-paper in pencil, a proud 150 pages front and back. I wrote a couple short stories in high school and a couple more my freshman year of college, but then got caught up in the busyness of life and put my passion to write on the back burner. Twenty years and four kids later, I read an article about Stephenie Meyer and learned she had written Twilight with three little boys underfoot. Right then and there, I decided if Stephenie could find the time to write, then so could I.
After deciding to write again, I couldn’t come up with any solid storylines, so my husband suggested we brainstorm. While throwing ideas back and forth, one of his struck me: a boy superhero whose senses, strength, and speed are radically enhanced. My response: “Love it, if the superhero is a teenage girl.”
LG: Are any of the relationships between Cassidy and her family based on relationships you have in your own life?
ES: Yes. We’re a close-knit family, too. My youngest inspired Cassidy’s brother Chazz. My son has a huge imagination. If he’s digging a character in a movie, he usually pauses the video so he can throw together a makeshift costume of the character, and he is really good at it. The kid has an eye for detail. The first time he watched Indiana Jones he dug out a white dress shirt and left it unbuttoned almost to his navel. I’d never even noticed Indie showed that much chest before.
I’m a mix of Cassidy and Elizabeth, her mother. My personality is Cassidy’s; my obsession with a clean house is Elizabeth’s. My husband use to call me “The Midnight Mopper,” before writing this series forced me to lower my standards, though things can still get a little ugly around here on Saturday’s, “family house cleaning day.”
LG: Do you have a favorite character, other than Cassidy? If so, why?
ES: That’s a hard question. It’s almost like asking if I have a favorite kid. I love them all, though, I must admit, Emery and Jared have a special place in my heart. Readers don’t know Jared yet, but they will!
The character I couldn’t wait to develop, whom I adore—which will be a surprise to anyone who has read both books—is Jason Crenshaw, Cassidy’s 25-year-old bum neighbor who had decided he never wanted to grow-up. Jason is a “work-in-progress.” I have big plans for him.
LG: What has been your biggest struggle in bringing this series to it's publishing point?
ES: I’d have to say querying agents. Like most new authors, I was completely naïve. I thought I’d sent out a few query letters and get snapped up immediately. I couldn’t fathom an agent not falling in love with my story. Foolish newbie. Eight months and two hundred query letters later, only three agents had read the manuscript and none of them loved it enough to rep me. Well, save for one, but when we looked into the publishers she had gotten contracts from, they were publishers that accepted un-agented manuscripts. So what would be the point? I didn’t need her.
Before I had begun down the Traditional path, my entrepreneur husband had encouraged me to start my own publishing company. After researching the publishing business model, he declared it broken and not worth pursuing. Well, eight months and two hundred rejected query letters later, I had to agree with him. So I went for it, started JACE Publishing, and had my book on shelves a few months later. I have no doubt if I hadn’t found a way around the roadblocks I’d still be sending out query letters. Like the music industry, the publishing industry is a mess.
LG: What has been your biggest triumph to come out of writing the story of Cassidy Jones?
ES: Rediscovering my passion to write. Luckily, I’m pretty good at it.
LG: Do you have any plans to write anything separate from The Cassidy Jones series?
ES: Definitely. I have a couple books I’m currently writing in my head. I hope to have time one day to pluck them out on my keyboard. If only we didn’t need sleep.
LG: How much of an influence have your husband and children been on the direction of your writing?
ES: A complete influence. I write this series with my children in mind. That’s why the content will always be something that I wouldn’t mind them reading and doesn’t contradict our values. For instance, our kids can’t date until they are sixteen. The Jones kids can’t either. Keeping our word is a must, just as it is for a Jones and a Phillips.
LG: Outside of family, who is your biggest supporter of your work?
ES: There are several friends who come to mind, though my immediate and extended family are my biggest supporters. I have been blessed with an incredible family. Other than that, I’d have to say the wonderful authors I’ve met on Twitter and Facebook. I have met some fine writers who happen to also be fine people. I’m tempted to list them, but if I forgot someone I’d feel horrible.
LG: How many books are planned for this series?
ES: Many. Book Three is outlined, and I have rough storylines for Books Four and Five. I know how this series will end, though– if I don’t change my mind. It’s a journey. I’ll have to wait and see where Cassidy takes me.
Thank you Elise for sharing this exciting book! I'm reading the next in the series now and can't wait to put up another review!