Hello there my dear friends, readers and friendly readers.
It’s Monday again and as luck would have it, I have a shiny new Author Interview to share with you all – aren’t you lucky people!
Just a quick note/Public Service Announcement before we get under way properly. I link to a lot of other articles in my posts, so WordPress users please check your Spam folders in your Setting Menus and approve any links/pingbacks that you find from me to improve the visibility of your own blog posts, as well as mine, it’s a win win for us both 😉
And now for the main event.
May I introduce you all to author Eileen Cook, as we chat about all of her different novels, along with exploring her writing endeavours in more intricate detail.
Thank you for reading, enjoy and keep smiling folks 🙂
Hi there Eileen, a sincere pleasure having you over here to discuss all of your wonderful books, along with your passions, inspirations and writing experiences.
Thanks so much for having me!
Let’s start with your novels themselves. You have quite a few of them across multiple genres! Please give us a brief description about each of your works and their themes, their story arcs and the overall premises sitting behind them.
I’ll group them up a bit to avoid blathering on for hours. I did a series, The Fourth Grade Fairy, that was for young readers. Although this isn’t a group I typically write for, I enjoyed playing with magic and my childhood dream of being to talk to dogs. (I still talk to mine, but alas, they don’t talk back)
I wrote two adult romantic comedies, Unpredictable and Do or Di. I’ve always loved this genre and wanted to channel my inner Bridget Jones.
A large number of my books would be YA Contemporaries including: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, The Education of Hailey Kendrick, What Would Emma Do etc. Once I discovered YA novels I fell in love with the area, enjoying the chance to work out all those issues I had as a teen, but hadn’t been able to resolve.
Lastly, I’ve always been a passionate fan the thriller genre. My books The Almost Truth, With Malice and The Hanging Girl are solidly in this area.
With Malice is about a girl who wakes up in the hospital and is shocked to discover she’s been in a serious car accident while on a school trip to Italy. She’s devastated to hear her best friend was killed in the accident, and terrified when she learns the police don’t believe it was an accident. Because she’s lost her memory due to a head injury, she must unravel what really happened in the time she’s forgotten before it’s too late.
The Hanging Girl is about Skye, who is desperate to get out of her small town. She’s always read tarot cards for money, but when a local girl goes missing, she gives the police a reading that helps them out. People are convinced she might have real psychic ability, but the truth is far more dangerous and her involvement in the crime, puts her at real risk.
Out of all of the genres you have written in with your books (and also looking at your books themselves), which one is your favourite and what particular qualities do you enjoy the most about it?
Choosing a favourite book is a bit like asking a parent to choose a favourite child. I’m proud of everything I’ve written. At the same time, now that there’s been time and distance sice I wrote them, I can see things that I would do differently.
The thriller genre feels the most natural to me. There’s something about working to create various crafty twists and turns that surprise a reader (while never feeling like you cheated them) that’s tremendously fun for me. If I had to choose one book as a favourite, I would select the book I’m currently working on. I suspect this love is a mix of spending all my time with it presently, as well as, with each book I learn more about the craft of writing and feel like I’m getting better.
If any of your novels were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
I’m terrible at this question because I tend to want to list actors I’d love to meet versus thinking of who would be a good match for the roles. I’d love to meet Helen Mirren because she’s such class act and I’m pretty sure I’d get along great with Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon. I’m also willing to admit I have a thing for Benedict Cumberbatch (in my imagination he’s mad for me) and all of this has zero to do with my book.
If I’m lucky enough to have a book of mine made into a movie or TV show, I hope that I have the wisdom to back away and let the people who know what they’re doing when it comes to making a film take the lead – including casting. Writing is an art, but so is film making. Once it becomes a show/movie it is no longer solely my story, it’s an interpretation of that story. Having said that, I really want to be invited to the set, so I can sit in a fancy director chair that has WRITER emblazoned on the back. And if it’s nominated for an award I want to go to the show, so I can get one of those amazing gift bags I always hear about when reading InStyle magazine.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
I want to have a spirit animal like a wolf or an owl, something mystical and wise. However, I suspect the truth is any spirit animal of mine is more like a scrappy terrier. I don’t give up easily – I’ve long believed that the difference between published authors and unpublished is in part persistence. Like a small dog who is delusional as to how big they are – I have a habit of taking on larger challenges than I realized. And at the end of the day, I like to snuggle up with a snack, a warm blanket and take a nap.
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
Once I was doing a radio interview and the host said: All of your books deal with a character struggling to figure out their identity – who they are, who they want to be, and what they’re willing to do to get what they want – what interests you in that topic? I was struck silent in the moment. I’d never had that insight. (Which doesn’t speak highly for my ability to be introspective) After that interview I looked over my books and realized the host was right. I worked for years as a counsellor and am fascinated by what decisions people make in their lives, why they make them, and how they live with those choices. I still enjoy writing on those themes.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
One of the hardest things to come to grips with as a writer is that the story on the page never is as good as the one in your head. You can make it better-that’s the beauty of revision! However, the story in your head is this magical thing with no boundaries. It’s also imaginary. It’s only when you start writing that you bump up against reality – why would this character do X? How is this going to happen?
Writing can be a frustrating business. There are a lot of aspects of it that are out your control. The secret is to focus on the craft of writing and your love of storytelling.
The best part of being a writer is getting to sit around making stuff up all day (often while wearing yoga pants and in between searching the internet for cute puppy pictures or new shoes). I really enjoy writing and the process of coming up with a story that I’m excited to tell and then being able to share it.
The best part of being a published writer is hearing from readers who enjoyed your book. So often writing is this very solitary thing, so when someone reaches out to you to say they liked what you did, it’s amazing.
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
I’m inspired by all artists – there’s something so risky and wonderful about creating something new. Some of my favourite writers include PD James, Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith. I love classic films, and Hitchcock would be right up there as a favorite director.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
One of the things I enjoy best about the writing process is the chance to do research. I’m one of those people who loves learning new things. Sometimes this can become a procrastination technique. However, in most cases research gives me the chance to better understand my characters and the world they inhabit.
In terms of specific research, I’ve learned everything from how to read tarot cards to the fact that more people are killed by being crushed by falling vending machines than in shark attacks. (Makes scoring that candy bar after lunch feel a lot riskier.)
I research online and I’m a HUGE fan of the library and librarians. I enjoy setting books in different locales, so travel comes in handy. My next book is set in London, and I used that as an excuse to go there and see all the places I wanted to use in the book. I lived there as a student and have been back several times as it’s one of my favorite places on the planet. The most valuable research often comes from talking to people. I’ve spoken to police officers, incarcerated con-artists, teens who were adopted, and fake psychics (and some who believed they were real psychics). People fascinate me – I love getting to know them.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I always loved books and stories. My parents have a homework assignment I did in second grade where we were supposed to practice writing sentences and instead I strung mine together to make a story. The teacher wrote on it: I’m sure some day you’ll be an author. This proves that teachers can inspire students and that they’re a bit psychic.
The first time I can remember thinking that writing books was something I wanted to do was when I was eleven or twelve. I’d gone to the library and picked up a book by Stephen King, Salem’s Lot. The librarian tried to discourage me from reading it – declaring it too scary. I remember being offended because I was a very mature kid and I understood the difference between make believe and real. I figured how scary could it be? Turns out – really scary! I slept with the light on for weeks. I thought it was amazing that this writer had made something up, something I knew was fiction, and yet it felt so real that I had a real emotional reaction. That’s when I knew that is what I wanted to do. To create things that feel real to the reader.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I’m lucky that I’ve never been a writer who feels tortured by my muse. I wear a lot of black, but that’s less because I’m trying to be dramatic, and more because it makes matching my clothes in the morning an easy process. Making up characters and stories is something I really enjoy so when I’m struggling with writer’s block I find it’s typically due to one of two things.
1. I need a break. Being creative takes mental energy and occasionally you need to recharge your batteries. If I find myself struggling to write I’ll give myself permission to take some time off – perhaps read more, knit, binge watch shows on Netflix, see friends, and in a perfect world, do a bit of travel. Those experiences make it easier to go back to the computer with fresh eyes.
2. Something with the book isn’t right. Because I typically write with an outline, I have a fairly good idea of what comes next. If I’m still struggling with getting words on the page, it’s often because I am trying to force a plot point. I’m making the characters do something, not because they would, but because I need them to for the story. When that happens, I back up and see if I can find an alternate route.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I have soooo much advice for my younger self. First off, asymmetrical hair does not make you look like you are a new band member of The Cure, or an extra in a MTV video, it makes you look like you got your head got in a thresher. Secondly, stop spending so much time trying to figure out Nick (not his real name). He’s gay. How either of you didn’t know this is a mystery, but for the love of God wake up – he’s not that into you. Third, and most important, stop worrying so much about what other people think. In many cases they aren’t thinking about you at all, or their opinion doesn’t really matter. Instead go ahead and dance, laugh to the point of snorting, wear the hat that you worry is too over the top, write the things you want because you want to write them, and do the things that give you joy. There’s no dress rehearsal for life, this is it, get busy.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
It’s probably not too surprising that one of my favourite things to do when I’m not writing is to read. I’m certain someday I’ll be killed when one of the million stacks of books I have in the house falls over and crushes me.
I’m a big knitter, I always loved crafty things, so when I found one I could do while watching movies or listening to audio books I was hooked. If you are friends with me at some point you’ll end up with a scarf or socks.
Lastly, I love spending time with friends. I enjoy throwing dinner parties and I often have huge board game nights where we play until the wee hours.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’m in the process of finishing up a new book tentatively titled, You Owe Me a Murder. I was inspired by Highsmith’s books, Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. I took that basic premise of two strangers meeting and becoming embroiled in a murder for hire project, and one of those people is a master manipulator. The main character, Kim, must figure out how far she’ll go to stay out of trouble.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
I have all sorts of advice! I’m a part of the Creative Academy where we mentor and support other writers at The Creative Academy. Some of my best advice includes:-
Read and write a lot. Books, both those you love, and even those you dislike, are great teachers. Give yourself permission to read as many as you can. As you start to read as a writer you realize all the choices the author makes – whose point of view, when the story starts, what backstory you know etc. If you like a character, try and figure out why. If you find yourself flipping pages like crazy or becoming bored, try and dissect what’s happening that is causing you to feel that way.
The second half of my advice is to write a lot – writing is a craft. You get better the more you do it. It can be discouraging at first because the idea in your head is perfect and shiny and wonderful and your first draft is not. The secret is to push through that process.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for spending time with us Eileen and introducing us to your amazing books, we can’t wait to check them all out soon 🙂
Thanks so much for having me!
Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, THE HANGING GIRL, came out in October 2017. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.
Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.
You can connect with Eileen via the following Social Media channels:-
You can buy her books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.