You may have noticed the name Eileen Cook popping up a lot lately on my blog (you can read her blog here). I’ve read most of her books over the course of the past week (the two I’ve missed were read late last year instead) and it’s been an absolute delight. She graciously agreed to be interviewed, so let’s get to it. :)
As I noted in many of the reviews, a lot of her books are linked to classic tales. What Would Emma Do? is sort of an updated Crucible and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood is an updated Count of Monte Cristo.
“I’ve always been a huge reader. My undergrad degree was in English so I’ve read all these classics and loved quite a few of them. I liked the idea of taking the core of these stories and having the chance to play with them and see how the themes and conflicts play out in a modern world. If my books inspired anyone to read the classics, I’d be thrilled,” Cook said.
One of the coolest things about her books is that they’re for different audiences. There’s a middle-grade trilogy about a girl who comes from a line of fairy godmothers, four incredibly fun YA novels and two of the absolute funniest “chick lit” books I have ever read, ever.
“I am one of those people who has idea ADD, but so far no picture books. I am interested in so many different things and I tend to follow those interests wherever (and for whatever audience) they lead me. I hope that if I’m interested in that topic or character other people will be as well. It may be `smarter’ to focus in on one area, but I think if the writer is really excited and passionate about an idea that can be felt by the reader. I’m hoping readers will decide they like me and be willing to follow me. I also believe the line between books is also blurring. Tons of adults read YA and teens have always read adult titles. Middle grade was a bit more of a stretch for me- but I loved the idea too much to let it go. I think this is my way of saying if I get a brilliant picture book idea I’ll most likely try it out,” Cook said.
Her characters are also not perfect (to put it mildly). It’s true in the middle-grade and YA series, but it’s especially true of the characters in her adult novels. The best example is probably Sophie in Unpredictable. She stalks her ex and even pretends to be a psychic to break them up! It’s easy to condemn her as being a creepy stalker, but she’s also obviously sweet and lovable. It’s also a very cathartic thing to see a character do something that we’d probably all love to do but are too scared (or sane) to do it.
“I love flawed characters, after all who likes perfect people? I enjoy taking a character and putting them into a normal situation (a boyfriend leaves them, two best friends fight etc) and then have them go to bizarre lengths to try and get them out of the situation. I think most of us daydream of how we might respond, we know we would never do it, but we like to imagine it. The best part of fiction is you can have characters try those things,” Cook said.
One of the most interesting parts of being a novelist is probably doing research.
“I LOVE doing research. I have to be careful not to get too focused on it. My next book is about a teen con artist. I read several books about con artists and had a meeting with a local police officer who specializes in trying to catch cons. I would have loved to have found a real con artist to interview, but strangely not too many people are willing to come forward on that topic. In general, people love to talk about their experiences and you can find out the most interesting things. Those small details are what makes a book feel real to the reader.”
Since I am now out of her books, I was hoping a new one would come out soon. Like, say, TOMORROW.
“Alas, tomorrow might be a smidge quick for me. I do have a new book that will be out in December. It’s called THE ALMOST TRUTH. It’s about Sadie, a teenage con artist. When she realizes that she looks like the age enhanced photo on a missing child poster decides to pull the ultimate con, until she begins to suspect she might actually be the missing girl. I just started a new book, so I promise to keep them coming as long as people are willing to read them,” she said.
Like everyone I’ve talked to so far, Cook is a huge reader.
“I am a huge reader. I read everything from thrillers to mystery, to non-fiction, to contemporary YA, to paranormal, to women’s fiction and even some science fiction. I’m one of those people who is always carting around a giant stack of books. Every so often I vow I am not going to buy another book until I read everything I already have. (feel free to laugh out loud here) I’m never able to keep that promise. It’s even worse now that I have an e-reader because I can download something instantly. Oooh instant book gratification! I recently had a chance to read an advance copy of Denise Jaden’s new YA called NEVER ENOUGH. It comes out in July and trust me, you’ll want to get your hands on this one.”
Then I asked the obligatory questions: first, what book should be mandatory reading?
“Well, first I would make everyone buy at least one of my books, preferably two. I’m not cruel or anything, I would let them choose whatever one they want. However, that answer feels like cheating (and also a bit self serving). If people had to read one book I would make it Charlotte’s Web. That is one of my favorite books as a child and I think it still holds up as an awesome book. Considering I hate spiders that’s pretty impressive.”
It sounds self-serving at first, but honestly, she’s doing you a favor. Her books are incredibly fun and I would recommend any of them. (or, even better, ALL OF THEM.)
And then I asked the hardest question ever. Five favorite authors?
“AH! This is always my least favorite question because I could spend hours and hours debating which authors and books. I’m going to freely admit that this will change depending on what time you ask me and why kind of mood I’m in. For today I’m going to go with John Irving, Mary Roach, Kate Morton, Maureen Johnson and Judy Blume.”
Thank you so much, Eileen!
(And if you haven’t read her books, get one nownownownownow. They’re wonderful.)