Q&A With Claire Cook
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Q&A With Claire Cook
Claire Cook is the New York Times, International & USA Today Bestselling author of over twenty-three novels. Many of her novels are a part of the Must Love Dogs series and The Wildwater Walking Club series. Life Glows On, Shine On and Never Too Late are standalone nonfiction books. You can read excerpts of them all at ClaireCook.com. On top of being an author she started her own publishing company Marshbury Beach Books & she’s a public speaker.
Q: So Claire I read online that you wrote your first novel Ready To Fall in your minivan outside of your daughters swim practice. Would you say it’s fair that, that was when you knew being an author was your calling?
A: Not at all! I’ve known I was a writer since I was three. I was published for the first time in the local newspaper at six and had front-page stories in high school, majored in film and creative writing in college. And then I started listening to all the negativity about how hard it is to get published and I panicked and just never wrote that first book until I was in my forties. I tell the whole story and share tips for writing and publishing in my nonfiction book Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention.
Q: What was it like appearing at the Red Carpet of the film adaptation of your second novel Must Love Dogs with John Cusack and Diane Lane? Were you star struck? I still get star struck when authors and anyone in the publishing industry agrees to do these Q&A’s with me.
A: Walking the red carpet was an absolute blast. I gave thirty-five red carpet interviews, including Extra and Access Hollywood! I enjoyed hanging out with all the actors during shooting, too, and they even gave me my own director’s chair and all signed it for me. They were really kind to me and I wasn’t star struck at all. I think the trick is to remember that people are just people and to be you!
Q: What’s your advice to anyone wanting to become an author?
A: Read everything you can get your hands on, because you can’t be a writer unless you’re an avid, joyful reader. Establish a daily writing practice. Do your research, because the more you know about the publishing world, the more it will help you. Don’t listen to the negativity. Do the work and just keep writing the books that only you can write.
Q: Is it fair to say that any of the characters and places in your novels are based off of real people and places? I love it when an author can create fictional worlds and people from real people and places.
A: I think you have to love the places where you set your books, and you have to be able to relate to all of your characters in order to write them well. Some of that comes from writing what you know. But that’s just the jumping off point. There’s also this point that fiction takes on its own reality and you have to make sure you let that happen. So for me, it’s like I take everything I know and everything I imagine, and shake it all up together and pull it out in a new order.
Q: If you deal with writers block, what’s your advice to aspiring authors on how to deal with writers block?
A: I talk about this a lot in Never Too Late, but I choose not to believe in writer’s block. When I’m writing a book, I write two pages a day, seven days a week and just keep nudging the book forward until I have a draft. I’m not allowed to go to bed until I finish my daily pages. I don’t have to be brilliant, but I have to get those pages written. Once I have a draft, I can go back and fix the parts that aren’t quite there yet. But if you don’t have the pages, you can’t make them better!
Q: What is your advice to new authors on how to deal with negative reviews, online trolls and family and friends who aren’t supportive of their writing goals?
A: Ignore them and rise above the negativity. There will always be people who don’t get it, or don’t like you, or what you write, or people who are jealous because you remind them of what they’re not doing in their own lives. You have to write because you love writing. And the people who love your work will find you and you’ll support one another. That doesn’t mean being an author is easy, but the good things never are!
Q: If you were to write in a different genre which genre would it be and why?
A: I don’t feel that I write in a particular genre. I write fiction and nonfiction, and the overarching theme of all my books is that it’s never too late to shine on. So I feel like I could write anything as long as it fit that message and my heart was in it and I thought my readers would want to read it.
Q: Will Hollywood make movie sequels to Must Love Dogs, and will they make movies to other books you’ve written? Hollywood is long overdue for creativity and could use more original ideas.
A: I’ve had quite a few of my novels optioned for movies. The Must Love Dogs series and The Wildwater Walking Club series are also both getting close to becoming TV series. But Hollywood’s a complicated place and there’s a lot that can go wrong along the way, which is why most books that get optioned never make it to the screen. But I’m optimistic that I’ll get lucky a few more times!
Q: As well as an author you’re a public speaker and you own your own publishing company. What is your secret on how to be a great public speaker? What is your advice to anyone on how to start their own publishing company?
A: For speaking, it’s important to have something unique to share that encourages other people. And it’s also key that you and your message are authentic. As for starting a publishing company, I spent years being published by the big publishers, and I worked with great people and learned a lot. I also did, and still do, a ton of research. I think the biggest mistake people make is underestimating how much goes into all these things—writing, speaking, publishing. So pick one thing and do it well, and then build from there.
Q: How would a new author submit their work to you since you have your own publishing company? Would they have to email you the story they wrote?
A: I don’t read other authors’ work or publish other authors. I started my company to publish my own backlist. It’s all I can do to take care of my own books and write the next one! I would suggest researching small publishers who take submissions. There are lots of them out there.