Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in six different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel, came out earlier this month (Jan. 2012).
You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.
Unraveling Isobel is a darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor, from the author of The Eductation of Hailey Kendrick and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.
But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
The topic at the Debutante Ball this week has been “Advice.” Here’s what Eileen has to say about it:
There’s a lot of great writing advice out there. Read a lot. A novel happens by putting word by word on the page. Be willing to kill your darlings. However the best advice I ever received made the difference for me between being published or not.
I’ve always written, but I didn’t always believe it would be possible to be a “real writer.” It seemed to me that wishing to be a published author was on par with wishing to be a princess or discovering that you were secretly a wizard and would be going off to Hogwarts. A nice idea, but a fantasy.
Then I took a writing class. The class was taught by Canadian writer icon, Ivan Coyote. (http://ivanecoyote.com/) Ivan awed me, not only because she’s a great teacher, but because she was a full time writer. I wasn’t sure I’d ever met one before. One day Ivan asked me to stay after class. She told me that my writing was good. Really good. She thought I was ready to start sending my work out. I was equally pleased and freaked out. I told her that I didn’t know if I could send my stuff out. What if people hated it? What if was rejected?
Ivan sat me down and said: “Eileen, I hate to tell you this. You’re already not published. The worst thing that’s going to happen is that you still won’t be published.”
That was my light bulb moment. I realized that I might never be published, but there was zero chance unless I was willing to take the chance. If I was willing to dream big and put in the effort, then there it was possible I just might reach those dreams. Now every time I find myself staring at a blank page and blinking curser I remind myself that I already havea blank page. The worst thing that will happen is that I’ll have a not very well written page. Then I go for it.
My advice to you is to make sure fear doesn’t stand in your way. Whatever you dream for- you already don’t have it. But if you try, if you work really hard and take some chances….. you never know.
Fantastic advice, Eileeen! Thank you for coming back to your old stomping grounds and sharing your great news with us.
Oh, and the best part: Eileen will be giving away a copy of Unraveling Isobel to a lucky Deb Ball reader, and it’s open to everyone. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. Easy-peasy, right?