Monday, January 12, 2009

Have a Happy New Year, Eileen Cook!

Interview with: Eileen Cook
Questions by: Lauren
Eileen's Website

Eileen's newest novel, What Would Emma Do?, has been released. To learn more about the book and Eileen, please visit her website! This is our first edition of Have a Happy New Year. Three more interviews to come throughout January, hopefully a couple reviews, and perhaps one more contest. You'll need to check back to see!

1. What made you decide to have Emma live in such a religious town? What are some things they are "no-no" about?

I had recently re-read the Crucible by Arthur Miller. This is a play about the Salem witch trials that explores how people can turn and blame others. It is a great example of the danger of group think. I started to wonder what the equivalent of being accused of witchcraft would be today and that led to the original idea that became What Would Emma Do. I wanted to set it in a religious town and high school because I liked the idea of an organization that should be promoting positive values being twisted. There is nothing a writer likes better than a juicy conflict.

Emma's high school is strict. They have very clear ideas of right and wrong and thinking outside the box is not seen as a welcome trait. Emma isn't sure she wants to be outside the box or not- but she is interested in exploring it.

2. I'm always curious how authors decide on the names for their characters. Any behind-the-scenes notes about Emma's name or anyone else in the book?

In the first draft of the novel the main character was named Alice, however the publisher had several other titles coming out that used the same name. My editor asked me if I would consider changing her name which lead to a lengthy search. For me names have to "fit" the person which can mean a large amount of time spent poking around on baby name sites. I wanted a shorter name which eliminated several options. The name Emma means "universal" and I felt that many of the issues she faced were universal. Lastly, the more I thought about the name the more I could picture her as an Emma in my mind.

3. The line "If you want it that bad, it can't be good" is written under the title on the cover of your book. Did you come up with this line? How do you feel it describes the book all around?

I wish I could take credit for the line as it works so well- but I have to give the kudos to my editor, Anica Mrose Rissi. I like the line as it captures both the tone of the book (funny) as well as the centeral conflict of when you want something even though you know you shouldn't. My main character Emma is attracted to two different boys- neither of whom strike her as a good decision if she wants to get through the rest of her senior year with a minimum of complications. Through the book Emma has to choose between the easy thing and the right thing. One of the harder things we have to discover in our life is what issues are worth making a stand.

4. Do you come up with playlists that you feel fit the novel? If so, what are the songs? If not, what is one song you think could be on the book's soundtrack?

When I'm writing I can't listen to music that has words- or I end up singing along. Trust me when I tell you that isn't a good thing for anyone. Now that the book is done I can think of a couple songs I would add to the play list:
Human by The Killers
Beautiful Day by U2

5. What are you currently reading these days, if anything?

I am always reading something. I am one of those people who gets antsy if I don't have a book nearby. Right now I'm reading Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting which is a great old gothic novel. Lock and Key is next on my to be read pile.


Prize: A copy of What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook
How To Enter: Comment on the interview!
Deadline: January, 31 2009
Open to: Everyone, but if you aren't in the U.S. or Canada, the book will be mailed to you slower!

"Human" by The Killers
Not the official video


kalea_kane said...

I like how Eileen chose Emma after Alice wasn't going to work. :) Thank you so much for the chance to win. :)


carmen alexis said...

I didn't know that Emma meant "universal". I think that it's so awesome that it's meaningful to Emma and her problems.
Please count me in! =)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Kalea: You're welcome, thanks for your comment! I like the name Emma too, so I'm glad it was picked.

Carmen: Sure thing! And I know, right? I like when names mean something specific...I had no idea it stood for "universal" either, but it works!


Julie P. said...

I love the idea of a book soundtrack! A few authors have toyed with this idea and it's really interesting to me!

Book Spot said...

Now I know why Tower Books has Alice in the title :). And I so, so hope I win because I've been wanting to read/review this book for months now!

Thanks for the contest :D

danie88 said...

I have this book on my wishlist! I'd love to win it! :)

Thanks for having the contest Lauren!

romancebookaddict @

robin_titan said...

ahh I love the killers!

I really want to read this book! sounds great. I like how Eileen was inspired by the crucible, that book is insane! I also like her playlist there although I'm not a fan of that particular U2 song the one I like of theirs is with or without you I LOVE that song!

Yan said...

Oh I would love to win this book!

lol I just thought that Emma meant someone cat's name. I forgot what Amanda meant, but it also has quite a beautiful meaning as well :)

Lovely interview Lauren!

What a Girl Reads said...

Intersting interview, the book seems really great!
Yeah, I have the sing-a-long issue too... but Human is a really good song! ;)


TruBlu93 said...

I really like the title to this book. Sounds like it really fits the plot.

sharonanne said...

I enjoyed the interview. Her book sounds really interesting. I like the idea of a main character having to deal with living in a very religious town.

Eileen said...

Thanks for having me! If anyone thinks of any questions I didn't answer just drop me a message on my site.

Shalonda said...

Do not enter me because I already have the book!

What a great interview, Lauren. The questions were very thoughtful!

Eileen seems sweet and very knowledgeable.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Julie P. I do as well, and a lot of YA authors have been doing it reguraly these days.

Book Spot: I think the book looks great as well! Best of luck.

Dani: You're welcome...thanks really go to Eileen, of course!

Robin: The Killers are pretty good. The Crucible is definitely one insane book, but I did enjoy it.

Yan: Aw, thanks! Best of luck in the contest.

Sara: it does seem like an intriguing novel. I'd love to read it as well.

TruBlu: Definitely, especially the religious conotation (sp?) with What Would Emma Do? versus What Would Jesus Do?

Sharon: Thanks! I really like the idea as well. It can change a lot about a person.

Eileen: Thanks for answering my questions and hosting the contest!!!!


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Shalonda: Definitely, I agree, about Eileen. :)

And thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.


Alyce said...

I like the idea of the parallels between The Crucible and the small town society. My husband just read The Crucible last week, so we were just discussing how easy it is for people to get twisted around accusing each other. This book sounds like a fun read!
akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

ddurance said...

I'm fascinated by everything having to do with Salem and the witch trials.
I have to agree with the tagline as well. What we most want is seldom what we most need.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Brooke Reviews said...

I always like knowing how authors chose names. Very cool!

tetewa said...

I'd like to be included!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Alyce: It's very true. People are often able to believe anything in certain circumstances. It's crazy.
Thanks for entering and sharing your thoughts.

Deidre: So true about the tagline, and I love it as well. It's just so catchy. I'm very interested in the Salem trials as well.

Brooke: For sure, me too!

Tetewa: Sure thing!


Lenore said...

Great interview - and I LOVE that Killers song!!

Ellie said...

I'm reading The Crucible in English right now!

Love the name Emma, too!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Lenore: Thanks, and it's grown on me. I like it now.

Ellie: Oh, how cool. :) I hope you like it.


Ruth Schaller said...

I've marked your blog as Excellent - check out my latest post!

Liviania said...

I'm glad the name was switched from Alice to Emma. Both are common names, but Emma just sounds a little friendlier or something.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Ruth: Thank you SOOOO much!!!

Livinia: I like the name Emma better as well....though both are simple and pretty.


TheBookworm said...

I can't listen to music when I'm working on anything either. It distracts me to much.

I love "Human by The Killers". My sibs and I are always just bursting into song and that one is heard at my house quite often. :)

I would love a copy of What would Emma do, please enter me!


Shooting Stars Mag said...

The Bookworm: I actually love listening to music when I write, but I can see how it would distract other people. I tend to tune it out...I just like it playing. lol


Peaches said...

Please enter me; I would love a chance to win!

Katie said...

I want to read Lock and Key, too. Lucky duck!

biblauragraphy said...

I'm excited to read this one! I always love hearing what music the author listened to while writing or had in mind as relating to the book.

Chelsie said...

Every time I see the cover, or read another interview, I get even more obsessed with reading this book. It is one of many that I would DIE to get my hands on.

<3 Chelsie

Stephanie said...

please enter me! i heard so much about this book that i have to read it now :)


Genevieve said...

I really liked the interview because nothing was given away. It's interesting how she came up with Emma after she couldn't use Alice.

cecilia said...

Great interview! The book sounds like it will be really good :)

cecilia //

Liv (Alivia) said...

Amazing interview. :)
I've been wanting this book really badly!!

Megan said...

This book looks amazing. And has been on my wishlist.The interveiw was great.
Thanks for the chance to win. So Enter Me.

Erika Lynn said...

Please enter me. This is a great interview and I love Eileen Cook. thanks!

Paradox said...

Great interview! I really want to read the book!

Group think can be very scary, especially when it ends in people being afraid to think for themselves...

The meaning of Emma is cool too!

Elinor said...

Can't wait to read this book!