Welcome to my blog about books and the classroom.
A teacher's opinions on YA literature and the state of public education in America.

Interview with Eileen Cook

Thanks so much for agreeing to interview, Eileen. I can’t wait to host you at For the Love of YA! Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood is one of the few books I’ve sat down and devoured within hours. Usually I have to chase kids, teach school, grade papers, etc. But this time, the kids were in bed and I just stayed up all night. I couldn’t put it down. And I have to say, I enjoyed every second of the revenge. Maybe I’m a mean girl, who knows?!
Here are my questions. Knock yourself out!
1.)I usually can’t picture every detail of a character’s face, but I saw Lauren Wood. How did you develop such voice for the teenage social cliques?
I suppose one answer is that I never fully grew up. I work hard to respect my readers, I don’t talk down to them or assume that they need me to teach them something. YA readers have a very well defined BS detector. If something doesn’t ring true to them then they’ll stop reading. I think there is an assumption that writing for teens is somehow easier than writing for adults, but I don’t believe that is true.
2.) The character of Brenda evoked so much emotion out of me. I wanted to help her. So when Claire/Helen took her on as a personal project, I was excited…until Claire started to act exactly like Lauren. Was it difficult to write the parts where Claire publicly dissed Brenda?
Out of all the characters in the book I am the most like Brenda, as a result when she suffered I felt for her. One of the harder things to do as a writer is to really torture your characters. Readers want to read about conflict and trouble. If your characters spin from having one okay day to another it isn’t very interesting to read. As a result, you have to be willing to make the characters you love miserable.
3.) Where did this story actually pop into your head and how did you develop it?
I was an English major in college and I still have bookshelves full of the classics. Now that I don’t have to read them for a paper or exam, I enjoy them way more. I had recently re-read The Count of Monte Cristo and I thought how much fun it would be to re-set the story in a modern high school- that was the beginning of Getting Revenge of Lauren Wood. The second inspiration for the book is that almost everyone I know knew a “mean girl” in school and dreamed of getting revenge. This book was my opportunity to imagine what that might have actually been like.
4.) I can’t wait to read your other YA books—What Would Emma Do? and The Education of Hailey Kendrick—and I’d say that, based on the teen-appeal in Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, teens all over the world feel the same. Could you tell us how many countries now have translations of your books? And how your readership has responded to your novels?
My first book, Unpredictable (an adult romantic comedy) has been published in German, Taiwan, France and Russian. My YA’s so far are in France and Greece.
I feel quite lucky as so far with each book my readership seems to grow. The feedback I’ve gotten from readers has been wonderful. There is nothing better as a writer than hearing from someone who enjoyed your book. One of my favorite emails came from a reader who found my books to be a great distraction while her mom has been going through cancer treatment. The idea that I could make someone laugh and forget their problems, even for a few hours, made me feel great.
5.) What did you do before you decided you wanted to be a writer? Why YA?
I always wanted to be a writer, but I worked as a counselor for people who’ve had catastrophic accidents or illnesses. I love writing YA! I think some of the most exciting, interesting books coming out are in the YA genre. There is an intensity in YA that makes it really fun to write.
6.) Which novels were important to you as a teenager? Why?
This question is so hard because I know I’ll forget so many wonderful books. Growing up we went to the library every week. I read everything from mysteries to romance to horror novels. I loved Judy Blume. One of the first times I can remember wanting to be a writer was after reading a Stephen King novel. I was around 9 or 10 years old and I wanted to check out his book, Salem’s Lot. My mom warned me that it would be a scary book. I figured how scary could it be? I knew it was fiction, I understood the concept of things being made up versus real. Then I read the book and ended up sleeping with the light on for weeks. Even though I knew it was imaginary, it made me feel real emotions. I love when books have that power- you find yourself cheering for a character or wanting to slap some sense into someone. I wanted to be able to write books that would have that kind of power.
7.) What has been your greatest success in writing YA?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I used to go to the library and run my hand along the shelves and slide my hand between the books where mine would go. When I saw my book in print for the first time it was a huge highlight. However, my greatest success comes when I hear from teen readers who enjoy the books.
9.) What does a day in your life look like?
My day is spent between walking the dogs, drinking gallons of tea, reading, and writing. (And occasionally spending entirely too much time looking at random things on the internet.) The days vary in terms of how much time is spent on what particular activity.
10.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there (like me!)?
Read! I’m a firm believer that books are the best teacher. The second piece of advice I would give is to never give up. There will be plenty of people who will tell you that it can’t be done, don’t bother listening to them. Instead focus on your dream.
This creative little bonus round is in dedication to the Spring that has been taking its time approaching. So, it’s the first really hot day outside, what/where do you:
Wear?
A pair of capri pants and this old beat up grey sweater I found at a vintage shop years ago.
Go?
Grab the dogs and head to the beach. I love the sound and smell of the ocean. They love rolling around on dead things.
Listen to?
A new iTunes playlist that my husband makes for me. He makes sure that my musical taste doesn’t stay frozen in the 1980’s.
Eat?
There is a cupcake place near my house- my all time favorite is the red velvet with cream cheese icing. Mmmmm
Say?
What are you reading? I love knowing what books other people are enjoying so I can add it to my to-be-read list.
 

Comments

  1. My mom found my copy in her car last weekend and read it in one sitting. She isn’t a reader, but she loved it. I think it’s one that has a lot of appeal to a wide variety of people.

  2. Thank you, Your writing has helped me,,
    i like this blog,,
    By Diet Solution Program

  3. You’re so welcome! I’m on an end-of-the-school-year hiatus right now, but I’ll be back to posting soon!Thanks for checking the blog. 🙂

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