Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What's Fresh with Eileen Cook's What Would Emma Do?

While juggling friendship issues (her best friend isn't speaking to her), a love triangle-turned-square (okay, maybe she shouldn't have kissed her best friend's boyfriend...but it was totally an accident!...sort of), and escalating mayhem in her small religious town (uh-oh...what would Jesus do?), Emma realizes she has to stop trying to please everyone around her and figure out what she wants for herself. It's time to start asking, "What would Emma do?"

Hi Eileen, its great to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Eileen: I was always a huge reader and as soon as I knew someone got to make up those stories I knew I wanted to do that same thing. My parents saved a homework assignment I did in second grade. We were supposed to write down some simple sentences, but I strung them together to make a story. My teacher wrote on the paper “I’m sure some day you’ll be a writer.”

When I was in college I decided that I better pick a field where I could get a “real job.” I continued to write, but never sent anything thing. Finally, I had the realization that I had nothing to lose to sending things in. Turns out rejection wasn’t nearly as bad as not trying at all. I saw an interview with my now agent, Rachel Vater, in a writer’s magazine. When I finished the book that would become Unpredictable (Berkley) I sent it off to her. She worked her agent mojo and we sold a few months later.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Eileen: People have a routine? I really should get one of those.

I love the idea of having a set routine or process, but I find my life keeps getting in the way. Sometimes I write at home and other times I like to be in a coffee shop or at the library. I write in the morning, afternoon or evening- depending on when I have the time. The only consistent would be that when I am in the middle of the story I find I need to write at least a small bit every day or I lose track of the story. What I would tell new writers is to try all different types of approaches until they find one they like. There isn’t one routine that works- it is a case of what works for you.

Please tell us about your latest novel What Would Emma Do and what we can expect from your characters.

Eileen: What Would Emma Do (Simon Pulse December 30 2008) came about when I recently re-read the Crucible. In the play a group of people begin blaming others of being witches and the situation burns out of control. It got me thinking about what would be the worst thing you could accuse someone of today and how easy it is for the mob mentality to take over. Those thoughts were the beginning of the story.

I wanted the characters to grapple with the question Can you still have strong relationships with people when you don’t want the same things anymore? I am fascinated by how we change and how those around us deal with that change.

Great! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Eileen: I’m working on another YA, which is currently called Black and White. (Stay tuned the title may change.) It is a story of revenge, classic movies, friendship, and love. I’m having a lot of fun coming up with all sorts of nefarious plots for the revenge part. Turns out I have a very evil side.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Eileen! Best of luck with Emma! :) Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Eileen: 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.

Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. When she was unable to find any job postings for world famous author, she went to Michigan State University and became a counselor so she could at least afford her book buying habit. But real people have real problems, so she returned to writing because she liked having the ability to control the ending. Which is much harder with humans.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else. Visit her webstie,

4 fresh comments:

Rhonda Stapleton said...

Great interview--I'm gonna run out and grab this book. It sounds fantastic!!

TinaFerraro said...

Oh, yes, I've heard about this book, and it sounds wonderful!

Little Willow said...

Good luck with the release!

sweetmelissa818 said...

I love the read and read some more! That's a good tip for even non-writers!