Debut author and hilarious blogger Eileen Cook is visiting The Book Lady this morning to discuss her new book, Unpredictable, which went on sale TODAY and has already earned many tons of glowing reviews. Please join me in welcoming her, and don’t forget to check out her ultra fabulous book!
Thanks for dropping in, Eileen. I know this is a pretty big day for you, but could you please tell us a little about Unpredictable while you’re here? What’s it about?
I’d be happy to. Unpredictable is the story of Sophie, who is the kind of woman who doesn’t give up easily. When her boyfriend leaves her, she’s determined to get him back. She pretends to be a psychic in order to give his new girlfriend a reading that will break them up. When parts of her reading come true, she finds herself a media darling and psychic star. The only thing she can’t predict is what she should do next.
The first chapter of the novel is available on my website, www.eileencook.com, if you are the type of person to like a sneak peek.
That sounds like a great premise. What was your inspiration for the book?
My husband belongs to a group called CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). It’s a group of skeptics who use science to investigate everything from alien abductions to the Loch Ness monster. I went with him to a conference that showed how easy it was to fake psychic skills and how often the person getting the reading has a different recall of what was actually said. At first I thought about how I could turn this to my advantage. I could start a new career as a psychic to the stars and leverage myself into A-list parties. But I had one question: Why? I knew how someone could fake psychic abilities, but I still wanted to know why they would fake it. Playing with that question was the beginning of the story that became Unpredictable.
In my day job I work as a counselor for people who have had catastrophic injuries or illness. This could account in part for why I write humor. During my graduate training we learned about how reality is often hard to define; two people can see the same event and interpret it very differently. Since that time I’ve always been interested in how people see the world and the decisions they make based on that world view. This theme tends to show up in all of my fiction.
What else would you like your readers to take away from reading Unpredictable?
My biggest hope is that people love it so much that they feel compelled to buy it by the case lot to give to all their friends and family. Assuming that this might be a bit much, what I would hope for is that people would laugh out loud and feel it was good entertainment for their money.
Unpredictable has already received many glowing reviews. Are you nervous about what reviewers have to say or do you, like some authors, plan to ignore them?
I know that it is impossible that all reviews will be positive, since you can’t please everyone. This doesn’t mean I can’t hope! I was very glad that my first review (from Romantic Times) was positive; it was a nice way to start the process.
The subject of titles recently came up on The Book Lady. Unpredictable was originally entitled In the Stars. What happened?
The book sold to Berkley, and we were moving forward towards publication last February. Based on foreign rights sales and the movie option, Berkley decided to re-do the cover. The original cover was fine, but I feel the new cover “fits” the book better. As a new writer I had very little say in the cover process, but I did forward links to the covers I really liked. Once we had the new cover it was decided that the title didn’t work any longer and the new title was created. I would be lying if I said I understood the way publishing works; right now I am along for the ride.
The new cover is gorgeous, so it seems you really lucked out. Speaking of the publishing biz, what was your road to success?
While writing Unpredictable I picked up a copy of Writer’s Digest that had an interview with agent Rachel Vater. I don’t recall what she said, but I remember thinking, “She’s perfect for me!” I stuck the article on my bulletin board (complete with her picture) and whenever I found myself blocked I would remind myself that this fabulous agent was waiting for my masterpiece, even though we had never communicated. Inside my head we were already a mean, lean writing team. Rachel discovered me in her slush pile and after she had a chance to read the full manuscript she offered representation. A few months later she was calling with the BIG NEWS that Berkley had made an offer. Much champagne was consumed.
Aside from writing amazing books and finding the perfect agent, what else would you recommend for those who have yet to become published?
Read, read, and read some more. Also, remember that this is supposed to be fun. If you find writing makes you miserable, consider taking up knitting instead. But if you can find the joy in it, there is nothing better.
It sounds like you’re enjoying your new career. What is your favorite part of being an author? Least favorite?
I love the process of writing, of being caught up in a world of my own making. My least favorite would be the days when the writing doesn’t seem to want to come. As for the publishing side, I am still so thrilled to have to this chance at all that I am finding it hard to think of what I don’t like. I’m sure in a few more years I will be more crusty and cynical.
Now that you’re off to such a wonderful start, what’s next?
I’m currently working on a young adult novel with the working title of WWAD — What Would Alice Do? It’s a spin on the play The Crucible, which dealt with the Salem witch trials. I’ve set it in a modern day Christian high school. I’m having tons of fun with it — at least when the revisions aren’t kicking my fanny. It is part of a two-book deal with Simon Pulse/Simon Schuster.
Good luck with it, Eileen, and with Unpredictable as well! Thanks for stopping by today.
Thank you very much, and thanks for having me. I had a great time!