Monday, February 11, 2008

Q/A with Eileen Cook

So I am just tickled pink because today I have a Q/A with one of my favorite bloggers, Eileen Cook. If you don't check out Eileen's blog, Just My Type, you should because it brings a daily dose of funny, and I adore it. Eileen's debut novel, Unpredictable, was released last week, so I asked her if I could host her here on Ask Allison because I knew that it would be an enlightening and hilarious Q/A, and she didn't disappoint. Oh, and here's a little scoop on the book, which you can order here from Amazon.

Sophie Kintock isn't crazy, she just wants her guy back. And posing as a psychic to give his new girlfriend a face reading designed to break them up isn't going overboard, is it? Don't answer that. Faking psychic powers turns out to be easy and fun, especially after a few lessons from Nick, the cute (if a bit nerdy) skeptic, who knows all the tricks of the trade. But her readings do a lot more than she could have predicted, and soon Sophie needs to figure out whether the answers lie in the stars-or in herself.

1) Where did the idea of Unpredictable come from? A lot of people mistakefiction for real life, but I take it you're not a credited psychic in reallife?
Alas- I do not have a secret life as a psychic. My husband belongs to a group called CSICOP (Center for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.) Are you picturing a bunch of really smart people wearing t-shirts with math jokes on them that you can’t understand? Perfect. It’s a group of skeptics that use science to investigate everything from alien abductions to the Loch Ness monster. I went with him to a conference dealing with how psychic ability can be faked. At first I thought how I could turn this to my advantage and start a new career as a psychic to the stars as a way to leverage myself into A-list parties, but I found myself going back to one question. I knew how to fake psychic skills, but I still wanted to know WHY someone would do it. Playing with that question was the beginning of the story that became Unpredictable.

2) Tell me how you got published. A lot of aspiring writers read the blog -they'd love to take inspiration from you!
I've always wanted to be a writer. My parents were both big readers and passed on the book passion to me. When I was old enough to understand the concept that someone got to be the person to write those stories I knew what I wanted to do. I took courses , went to conferences and wrote as much as possible. I was reluctant to send things out until one writing teacher asked me "well do you think publishers are just going to show up at your f*&%ing door on their own?” It was hard to argue with that kind of logic. I started to send things off and had some sales (and LOTS of rejections.) I wrote two books before Unpredictable. They're unpublished and should stay that way. People are sometimes surprised- but I didn't have any super secret publishing contacts. My agent (the wonderful Rachel Vater) found my query in the slush pile. She's a great business partner. She sold the book to Berkley and foreign rights in Russia, Germany and France. Film Rights were picked up by New Line Cinema.

3) What's your best writing/publishing tip for aspiring writers?
Read. Read a lot. Read a range of things so that you can see how different writers and different genres work. My other piece of advice is that writing with the goal of publication is a rough ride, lots of rejection, lots of emotional ups and downs. If you don't like the actual process of writing I would suggest taking up some other pursuit. Knitting is good. WIth knitting you get a sweater and no one sends you a letter that says:

Dear Knitter- Thank you for the opportunity to review your sweater. Unfortunately it is not to our taste. Other people may like your sweater, but we sure didn't.

4) What the most unpredictable thing about the publishing industry?
There are predictable things about publishing? A wise writer friend recently told me "writing is a craft, publishing is a casino." Truer words were never spoken. There are so many factors that lead to success in this industry (print runs, distribution, trends) - however the only one in your control is the writing. Despite a few short freak outs along the way I'm doing my best to keep focused on the writing.

5) Do you believe in psychic abilities? Ever have a psychic moment?
I want to believe in psychics- does that count? I love the idea of being able to have super-human abilities. I also would love to be able to fly superhero style (except for the fact that I would look really bad in those Spandex suits). I think that sometimes in our desire to find something out of this world- we overlook what is right in front of us . We're so busy playing with tarot cards we miss the real magic- how you feel when you fall in love at first sight or finding a killer pair of shoes- IN YOUR SIZE.

6) I love your blog -so chock full of random tidbits that crack me up.Where do you find them all? What sorts of things tickle your funny bone?
I have this theory that strange news finds me not the other way around. I tend to click around the internet until something catches my attention. One of the most interesting thing has been as the popularity of the blog has grown now people are starting to send me things. You know it's going to be a good day when you open your email and there is a subject line "Ransomed Jesus Video- Must See." I come from a family that has always had humor as a part of everyday life- from bad corny jokes (yes Dad I'm talking to you) to dry sarcasm. I love writers like Meg Cabot or Dorothy Parker who are able to put a fresh spin on something by using humor.

7) Your blog has thriving and healthy traffic. Any words of advice tosomeone starting out on how to build a blog audience?
A blog is a lot of work, if you want to grow an audience you have to make a commitment to posting regularly. I also advise people to look at what is the purpose of their blog. Your blog for example has great writer's advice, it gives people a reason to come back. I couldn't offer writer's advice as I don't know what I'm doing, I decided to stick with funny. To give people a place to stop by for a quick laugh in the middle of their day.


Gail said...

I've read UNPREDICTABLE and it is VERY funny!! Great to see Eileen and UNPREDICTABLE featured here! Gail

Dawn said...

I heard about the book yesterday and I can't wait to read it. Oh, and I just visited Eileen's blog for the first time and laughed out lout immediately. I'm adding it to my must-visit-often list!

Larramie said...

Eileen, her blog and UNPREDICTABLE are terrific. The best news is -- that like you, Allison -- Eileen intends to continue blogging and thank goodness because we NEED the funny!

Eileen said...

Thanks so much for having me!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Fun interview Allison--great questions--cracked up at the Dear Knitter letter!

I absolutely HEART Eileen. Can't wait to meet her when we have gallons of wine... oops, I mean a nice quiet meal and a chat prior to your book reading in Chicago in TWO WEEKS! Swishy and I are stoked!