Interview with: Eileen Cook
Questions by: Lauren
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