Friday, July 17, 2009

Interview with Eileen Cook

Today I have an interview with Eileen Cook, author of What Would Emma Do?.

Are experiences in your novel based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I tend to steal traits and quirks from different people and then mix them up to create someone new. What I find interesting is when someone who knows me reads a book and thinks they identify someone else and it wasn’t even someone I had in mind at the time. I think all writers tend to steal from their own life. For WWED I shared the background of growing up in a small town (although mine wasn't quite that small) and also the feeling about wanting to leave your hometown but not knowing what that means for the friendships you've made.

Which character in What Would Emma Do are you most like?

It is much easier being the writer than my characters- I get them into the most difficult situations. I would love to be Emma from What Emma Would Do because although she’s having a difficult time being in that transition from high school life to college life- she is also so willing to dream big. Plus she’s a great runner and I tend to be one of those people who runs for a block and then feels like throwing up.

What sets WWED apart from other YA novels?

Ooh hard question. The first answer I came up with was "well I wrote this one, but not the others" which I suspect was not the answer you were going for. I hope what sets it apart is the humor. I laughed out loud when I wrote it- so I hope people laugh when they read it.

How did you decide on the title of WWED?

I wanted to play on the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) theme.
What's the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome to get to where you are today as a published author?

The biggest challenge was to believe in myself. There are zillions of people who have no dreams of their own and spend their time trying to tell you why it is waste of time to pursue your own. Writing has a lot of rejection, but as long as you are willing to keep pushing yourself, keep learning and keep trying you can see your book on the shelf.

How long did it take you to write WWED?

It took me about a year. I work part time and write the other time so I have to find time to fit everything in.
Are you working on any new YA novels? If so, can you tell us a little about them?

I’m working on another YA, which is called Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. It's a story of revenge, classic movies, friendship, and love. I’m having a lot of fun coming up with all sorts of evil plots for the revenge part. Turns out I have a very evil side. It should be out around January 2010.
If you had to create a soundtrack WWED, what would be on it?

I blame you for the past two hours spent on I-Tunes. I didn’t have a soundtrack in mind so I’ve been searching (and downloading) various songs trying to figure out the best fit. I think this would be a question I would like to have answered by readers. I’d be interested to hear what they have to say.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading Fade by Lisa McMann. I really liked her book Wake so I've been looking forward to this one.

What is your favorite book of all time and why?

I love to read-period. I love fiction and non fiction. Mysteries, romance, comedy, classics and thrillers. If I have nothing to read I get all worked up and will start reading the side of the cereal box, or anything else that is handy. Picking one favorite is hard. So much of what I like depends on the mood I'm in. One day I might tell you a favorite is Harry Potter and the next day tell you it is A Prayer for Owen Meany.

So many good books to read- so little time!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I like to knit and love the feel and color of yarn. I’ve bought enough that there could be a world wide sheep shortage and I would have enough stockpiled to last me the rest of my life. I’m a lazy knitter- I don’t like to do complicated things- thus I make a lot of socks and scarves.

I have two dogs so running around on the beach with them is a lot of fun (although quite sandy). I love to read of course and always have a stack of books I'm planning to read. Lastly, I'm a movie junkie.
What advice to you have for aspiring novelists? The YA book blogging community?

1) Read- read a lot. You can learn so much about writing this way. Read books you like and books you hate. Break them down to see what works and what doesn’t. Underline or highlight passages/dialog you really like (assuming that this isn’t a library book). It isn’t about trying to write like someone else, it is about discovering the process of what makes a story work.

2) Keep Writing: A lot of people talk about writing, but don’t do it. With every thing you write you get a bit better, you learn a bit more. If you give up then you won’t be published. If you keep trying- then who knows?

3) Seize the day: You won’t have anything to write about if you never leave the house. Try new things, meet new people, travel, you never know what will lead you to the next story.

Thanks for the interview, Eileen!

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