I was honored enough to interview Eileen Cook about her newest novel, Unraveling Isobel, which I reviewed earlier in the month and that review can be seen here. Alright, let’s get started!
About Unraveling Isobel:
WR: How did you come up with the idea behind Unraveling Isobel?
EC: The idea came about after a discussion with a friend about how we would respond if we ever saw a ghost. Would we assume it was real? Think we were going crazy? Worry that someone was trying to pull one over on us? There are some paranormal books where the characters see something amazing and
seem very “oh yes, of course, werewolves.” I wanted a character who has some serious questions about what she experiences. Then there is the fact that I love gothic novels, big creepy houses, family secrets, ghosts….
WR: While rewriting drafts of Unraveling Isobel, did you ever want to toss the whole idea and start on something else?
EC: There is a point in every book I’ve written where I think: “what the heck have I gotten myself into? Why did I ever think this was a good idea?” The secret to writing is to keep moving forward when that feeling happens.
WR: One of my favorite things of the book is how you describe Isobel’s surroundings. What was it like creating the setting?
EC: When I am coming up with a story I tend to see it in my mind almost like a movie. I want to put in enough description that the reader can have a mental picture too, but not so much that it makes the pace slow down. For this book the house was really important to me. I drew out floor plans and looked through
pictures on the internet to get an idea of how the house was laid out and appeared.
WR: In Unraveling Isobel the relationship between Isobel and Nathaniel was unique and put them in a tough position. How did you feel while writing these scenes and their relationship?
EC: One of the things that I enjoy about writing for teens is the difficult situation they are in- they are almost adults, but at the same time have very little control over big parts of their life. If you are under 18 and your parents want to move- you move. If you family decides to live without technology, no TV or computer,
they can purge the house of those things and there’s nothing you can do.
With so many blended families I thought how hard it would be if you parent married someone else and suddenly you find yourself living with another teen your age who happens to be hot, and your attracted to, but in theory is now your sibling just because your parents are married. Isobel and Nathan haven’t grown up together. There’s no reason for them to feel like brothers and sisters just because their parents suddenly get married.
WR: Which one of the scenes in Unraveling Isobel is your favorite? Why?
EC: Oooh hard question. I like different scenes for different reasons, which makes picking a favorite hard. The scene with Isobel and Nathanial in the library is one of my favorites. I love when he sings Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to her and we see that they are starting to like each other.
WR: How did you create the complex layers in Unraveling Isobel, such as the mystery surrounding the death of Nathaniel’s mother and sister?
EC: I wish I could say that I had some sort of complicated plan, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I read a lot and I believe books are the best teachers. The more books I read with various layers, the more my mind starts to see stories in those terms, what is the main thing driving the character, what’s happening in their
family, how do people around them respond. What relationships do they have? What’s happening in the world around them? Once you start thinking of all these questions you find it starting to layer up in the story.
WR: Which tense do you prefer when writing novels? Past or present?
EC: Typically I write in past, but I’m comfortable with letting the story tell me what makes sense. Sometimes when I am starting a new project I’ll try it out a few different ways, change the tense, change who is the main character in the story etc. If I write a few pages I get a gut feeling for which is the right way to go.
WR: Do you ever consider writing for a different genre?
EC: I love reading a wide range of books and genres so I’m always open to trying something new. I have written an adult romantic comedy, DO OR DI, which is available as an ebook only so it is a great price of $2.99. I love romantic comedy movies so this is my book version of the movies I love. NOTE: Look at the giveaway below!
WR: What has been one of your favorite experiences while in the publishing and novel industry?
EC: I still get a huge thrill when I see my books in a bookstore. I wanted to writer my whole life so it feels like winning the lottery every time. The best experience however is hearing from readers. I am still in awe that people other than my friends and family are reading my books. When I hear from a reader it makes my
WR: When you were growing up did you know you wanted to be a writer? If so, how did you find time to write?
EC: I always wanted to be a writer, but for a long time it seemed like a fantasy job- like saying you want to be a princess or a superhero when you grow up. It took me a long time to realize that I might not ever reach my dream of being a published author, but that if I didn’t at least try there was NO chance I would reach it. Finding the time to write can be a challenge, especially if you are juggling work/school and family. It is easier to start by carving out a small amount of time. Turn off the TV early and say you’ll write one page a day. One page! Only 250 words. However, if you do that at the end of a year you’ll have a 300+ page novel.
WR: How do you stay focused while writing a novel?
EC: Now I have deadlines, which makes staying focused much easier! I am lucky that I actually enjoy writing. I find it fun. I did it for years as a hobby without any pay. I find if I can write on a regular basis (every day if possible) then I stay focused on the story and am looking forward to the next chance to write more.
WR: Unraveling Isobel isn’t your first novel. What has it been like writing multiple books? Does it ever get easier?
EC: I don’t think it has gotten any easier. There is a point in every book where I am certain that the whole thing was a huge mistake and I have no idea how I will ever finish the thing (or even if I should). What is easier now is that I can remind myself that I have done this before and that if I got through it before I should be able to get through it again. Then I sit back down and keep writing.
And the Classic Willa’s Rambling Question:
WR: What do you ramble about?
EC: I suspect I ramble about all sorts of things, books, how cute my dogs are, what I’m currently writing, and what I’m knitting. I am not a great knitter, but I love to do it so I tend to talk about yarn in all sorts of detail that bores people who are not knitters (or who might have some weird fetish for yarn).
Thanks for letting me interview you Eileen! It was a pleasure
And now for the giveaway!
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Places you can find Eileen Cook:
Her website: www.eileencook.com
Thanks for stopping by!