February 2008


Eileen Cook's debut novel Unpredictable is about a woman who pretends to be a psychic to get her boyfriend back. The Vancouver-based counsellor also runs writing workshops.

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  1. 1. What inspired Unpredictable's storyline?

    My husband belonged to a group called CSICOP (The Center for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.) This is a group of people (most of them so smart they tell jokes where the punch line is some math formula) who use science to explore various paranormal events. When one person sees the Loch Ness Monster they look to see if it was really a log. At this conference they showed a video of a psychic giving a woman a reading, at the end of the video we had to say what we thought the psychic got right. Then they re-showed the video and showed how many of the answers actually came from the person getting the reading not the psychic and just how many wrong guesses there were. Since I knew how it could be done, I wondered why someone would fake these abilities. This thought connected to my interest in how far we'll go for love - even if it is pursuing the wrong guy. The two ideas came together and Unpredictable was born.

  2. 2. Do you believe in psychics?

    I want to believe in psychics - does that count? I love the idea of there being this type of magical connection, but so far I haven't seen anything I couldn't explain through another means. Other people have told me about experiences they've had that sound amazing so I wouldn't say it couldn't exist - just that I haven't seen it. I do think sometimes we are looking so hard for magic- that we overlook the real magic that might already exist in our lives, the way you feel when you fall in love or finding killer shoes on the clearance rack in your size.

  3. 3. How did you research faking it in the psychic world?

    In addition to the skeptics conference, I read books by both people who claim to be psychics and also by skeptics. I started to wonder why messages from the great beyond were always about predicting if Brad and Angelina would split up. I'm hoping the universe is interested in other things like giving me the winning lotto numbers. I also wanted to see some psychics in action, I went to about a dozen. One person I went to twice and she gave me a completely different reading the second time.

  4. 4. Why will readers fall for Sophie?

    What you can say for Sophie is that she isn't afraid to go after what she wants. She may be going in the wrong direction - but at least she's doing something. She isn't someone to sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to rescue her. I like women characters who are strong and active - even if they have their fair share of flaws. I hope that others find her quirks endearing. I really grew to love her during the writing process.

  5. 5. How much of you do you put into your characters?

    Strange things stick in my head like cat hair on black dress pants. I remember stories people tell me or character traits and later use them in my own writing. There are aspects of me in all the characters, but I wouldn't say that any of them are autobiographical. Sophie's clumsiness may come from me, I have a unique ability to fall over my own feet.

  6. 6. What did it feel like to finally hold your book in your hands?

    I had been imagining the moment for so long it hardly seemed real. The cover has some foil/embossing detail which I rubbed until it was pretty much flat. I wanted to carry the book around in one of those Bjorn baby carriers strapped to my chest and force everyone to coo over it. I'm still in a stage when I like to have my copy with me at all times.

  7. 7. What have you been doing to promote your book?

    I'm assuming you mean in addition to the free-floating anxiety and frantic thinking about it? I am doing a launch party as well as some local signings. I'll be on book tour in the mid-west (Chicago, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Fort Wayne) the last two weeks of February. I did my first TV interview last week. It was live TV and I was completely focused on not falling off the giant bar stool or forgetting my own name. I find the radio and print interviews easier as I'm not obsessing over if I'm making weird facial expressions. I've also considered making my own elaborate book displays and sneaking them into bookstores and setting them up when no one is looking.

  8. 8. How important is humour to your writing?

    Humor is vital to my writing. I come from a family that uses humor to communicate so even when I try and be serious, it sort of sneaks out around the edges. A very early draft of the book that would become Unpredictable was a mystery - a very, very, very bad mystery. One of my early beta readers noted 'well . . . the funny parts were good'. At that time I realized I needed to stop fighting it and write a funny book.

  9. 9. Tell us about your writing workshops.

    I've always done teaching and lectures for my day job as a counsellor for people with catastrophic injuries and illness and am one of those few people who doesn't mind public speaking. I do several writing workshops where I use some of the tools I use in my day job and apply it to writing. For example, there is a theory called The Stages of Change - it looks at how people make a change in their lives and why sometimes people who say they want a change don't follow through. It is really interesting to use this when creating character arcs and deciding how your characters will (or won't) change. I love the craft of writing and enjoy discussing it with others. Everyone has their own process, so it's great to lead a workshop where people are sharing these ideas.

  10. 10. Your next book is targeted at the Young Adult market. Do you have another adult book planned?

    I do have another adult novel that is nearly completed. It deals with a woman who works as a risk evaluator and needs to learn to take some leaps in her own life. I learned interesting facts while researching this book. For example - did you know more people are crushed to death by falling vending machines than in shark attacks? It's enough to make you leery of getting your afternoon Diet Coke.

  11. 11. You've admitted to being a Duran Duran fan. Who was your favourite member?

    My best friend picked Simon first so that meant he was off-limits for me. We had a rule about that kind of thing. With Simon off the market I chose John Taylor. Sigh. That man could make a puffy shirt sexy. Long live the 80s glam boy bands.

  12. 12. Which book do you wish you had written?

    I love Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed, Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, anything by Meg Cabot, and John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany is a favorite. In fact, there are quite a few books I would take credit for if I could.

  13. 13. What's been the biggest lesson you've learnt about publishing over the past year?

    Having a book published is a bit like a wedding. Everything takes longer than you imagined, things are more expensive that you thought and it's really easy to become very emotionally involved in minute details. In the same way that some people spend their entire wedding day stressed over napkin colors, I've known people who worried about every detail of their book launch. After all it's our special day dammit. On the days I find myself freaking out over something I try and remember this is what I wanted more than just about anything. I want to slow down and enjoy the process, to soak up the experience. You only have your debut book once.

  14. 14. What are you reading now?

    I just picked up Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer.

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