Meet W.’s Clients: Zoe

Zoe Hana Mikuta

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Meet Zoe

Zoe hails from Boulder, CO, and is a writer of young adult (YA) fiction. She is currently a student at the University of Washington-Seattle.

Her debut novel, Gearbreakers (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2021), is a YA sci-fi that tells the story of two groups-at-war: the Windups—a charming nickname for hundred-foot-tall bionic nightmares—who use their arsenal of detrimental skills to ensure that the nation of Godolia remains sealed to its place of power, and, on the other side, the Gearbreakers, who desire nothing but to break them, and the two girls—one of each—whose loyalties collide.

City/State or Province: Boulder, CO (Currently studying at University of Washington in Seattle)

Birthday (MM/DD): April 23rd

Describe your writing and how you came to work with Weronika: I have always wanted to work in YA sci-fi and fantasy, and aim to pack in as much action as possible. I love writing fight scenes, whether it involves fists or knives or magic, humans or robots or beasts, and I like my characters badass and morally ambiguous. I wrote a YA sci-fi in my senior year of high school and queried it the following summer—and opened Weronika’s response completely expecting yet another rejection. Instead, the magic words: Are you available for a call? I would’ve been ecstatic to communicate by carrier pigeon, at that point.

Favorite TV show: Either Brooklyn Nine-Nine or The Good Place

Favorite book of the year: Either Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo or Vicious by V.E. Schwab

If I could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive, fictional or historical), it would be: Nina Zenik, because I’m in love with her.

If I were to hang a quote or an art piece above my fireplace, it would be: I’d want a painting over my fireplace—I don’t know of what, but it would have to have lots of colors, all pastels that makes the room look happy.

Three things to ask me about: Anything about the Marvel movie franchise; my Hogwarts house; if I want the rest of your food

Most interesting idea I’ve encountered in the past three years: Definitely the plot of what I hope will be my debut – giant robots! Humans versus giant robots! Cyborg girls! Mecha sword fights!

Learn About Zoe’s Work

When did I write my first novel? What was it about, and what prompted it?

I started writing my first novel in 7th grade and finished in my sophomore year of high school. It was about the zombie apocalypse—which I’ve always have a fondness for, entertainment-wise—and by the end, it was around 170,000 words and absolutely horrible, and it will never see the light of day. However, I can see myself at some point in the future tearing it down to the plot bolts and starting fresh—I feel like writers are naturally nostalgic for their first big project.

If I could read books from any single imprint for the rest of my life, which imprint would it be?

Please don’t make me choose.

If there is any one advice that I’ve heard about writing fiction that has proven itself to be true, which piece of advice is it?

It’s a cliché, but you just have to keep at it. Especially during the editing process, when you notice all these cracks in your work, you have to push through that self-doubt and see it through to the end. It’s not just you who you owe this to—you owe it to your characters, too, the world you’ve created.

When and where during the day do I write? Lighting? Sound? Coffee, tea, other?

If I’m not at a coffee shop (with a caramel latte or an earl grey tea), I’ll usually be on my bed, stomach-down, with my arms thrown over a pillow and my computer open in front of me. When it’s warm outside, I’ll usually sit on my front deck with my feet kicked over the railing, laptop balanced on my knees, with my dog snoozing under my chair. I don’t usually like a lot of noise when I’m writing, except when I’m structuring fight scenes—then I put on something like The Frights to get my attitude right.

Plot or characters? Voice or prose?

A good story, of course, blends all four, but I had to choose, it’d be characters and voice. You can have a seemingly boring plot that can be made extraordinary by the way the characters perceive it, or you can have an extraordinary plot made boring by static characters. The appeal of three-dimensional characters is that they are subject to change in response to the adventures they go through—part of the reason to keep reading is to see the person they become in the end. As for voice, I feel like that’s what truly distinguishes one story from the other within the same genre. I love finding an author whose voice is recognizable across their works, as well as seeing that voice grow and refine over their career as they gain more and more experience—it’s like I’m ‘growing up’ with them.

3 thoughts on “Meet W.’s Clients: Zoe

  1. Jan M. Flynn says:

    I’m mightily impressed by a writer who’s tenacity and understanding of compelling story structure are so advanced for her years — to comment that Ms. Mikuta is making a promising start seems a vast understatement. Congrats!


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