Here we are again at Off The Beaten Path! A once-a-month opportunity to get to know a very special romance or women’s fiction author, in a fun and hopefully interactive way. We all like to get to know our favorite authors a little better, and I want to make that fun for everyone.
This month, I’m so excited to introduce the fabulous Claire Cook!!
So pretty in pink!!!
I fell madly in love with Claire’s writing back in the day when Must Love Dogs first came out. I owned a little bookstore back then, and ran a small bookclub out of it. Must Love Dogs was one of our picks, and I was in awe. And I knew I wanted to write like THAT. So Claire is one of my major writing inspirations!
Claire, I’m so happy you are visiting today. I know everyone here is anxious to talk to you so let’s get started!
Claire, how would you describe your life in only 8 words?
Totally thrilled to finally be living my dream.
That’s awesome! So in that vein of thought, what is your definition of perfect happiness?
We all have those niggling terrors that gnaw at us…or give us story ideas. What’s your greatest fear?
That I’m still a bartender and I can’t remember where this drink should go. Oh, wait, that’s the recurring nightmare.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Do you have a favorite saying?
Yes it does! As much as we all get caught up in these crazy schedules and deadlines, balance is important. What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?
Walk the beach.
What’s your fantasy profession?
Being a novelist. It’s the career I almost didn’t have, and nine books in, it still feels like a fantasy.
What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
Humor, honesty, and kindness.
Okay, this one’s important. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Trader Joe’s organic popcorn with olive oil.
What are your 5 favorite songs?
I never play favorites. I just can’t. I’d feel too sorry for the songs I didn’t pick.
You and I have something in common. We both published our first novel at the age of 45. You have now surpassed what most of us only dream of, by walking the red carpet at the premier of the movie adaptation of your second novel, Must Love Dogs, at 50. What advice do you have for women who haven’t yet realized their own buried dreams?
Rise above the negativity. Whatever the motive, lots of people will tell you why you can’t or shouldn’t do whatever it is you want to do. You just have to decide to do it anyway. You might want to protect yourself a bit in the beginning too. I didn’t tell anyone about my first novel until it was finished. You don’t need anyone’s permission — just do it!
Be who you really are. The big buzz word these days is branding, but I think of it as authenticity. This is the first job I’ve ever had where I wasn’t pretending, or at least trying to pretend, to be a slightly different person. Who I am and what I write are totally in synch. There’s tremendous power in that.
Confound expectations. If everybody’s doing it, it’s already been done. Put a little surprise in everything you do. Originality counts!
Do something nice for someone. It’s easy to get needy when you’re struggling to figure out what’s next, but many of the great things that have happened to me (including a Today Show feature!) were triggered by something nice I did for someone else. People talk — your actions determine what they say. As one of my characters once said, karma is a boomerang.
Get your tech together. Everything you need to know about the world you want to conquer can be found online. Get your computer skills up to speed — fast! Research. Network. Create an online presence on Facebook and Twitter. The internet is a great equalizer — and there are so many opportunities out there just waiting for you to take advantage of them! And while you’re online, make sure you check out the writing and reinvention pages at ClaireCook.com where I share everything I’ve learned so far.
Your ninth novel, WALLFLOWER IN BLOOM, was just published in June. Where did you get the idea for it?
Wallflower in Bloom began in kind of a crazy way. The publishing blog GalleyCat asked its Facebook readers which author they’d most like to see on Dancing With the Stars. Amazingly, I was one of the 10 authors nominated, along with Nora Roberts, Jodi Picoult, Harlan Coban, Ally Carter, David Sedaris, Andy Borowitz, Tatjana Soli, Tishani Dosh and Kathy Patrick.
I have such true blue, incredibly supportive readers, and they got all excited and started voting like crazy – and I won the popular vote! GalleyCat sent the petition off the DWTS producers. Everyone started asking me if I’d really do it. “Of course, I would,” I said, my knees shaking. “Not just for me, but for midlife women everywhere.”
I totally would have done it, shaky knees and all, if Dancing With the Stars had ever called, which they haven’t – yet! But I have to admit it was a lot less stressful to turn the experience into the jumping off point for Wallflower in Bloom.
What was intriguing to me was the thought of a non-celebrity suddenly dropped into a celebrity world. And then I started thinking what if the heroine was the personal assistant to her famous brother, who was the family star. And what if she somehow used his connections to find her own fifteen minutes of fame?
And somehow into all this, my new novel, Wallflower in Bloom, was born.
Absolutely love that cover SO much!! What’s up next for you?
Simon & Schuster Touchstone will publish my next novel, Time Flies, in June 2013. We’ll be doing lots of fun promotions as things get closer, so head over to ClaireCook.com and sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop.
We are SO fortunate to have Claire here today…
*cue applause and fangirl squeals*
She was kind enough to offer a signed giveaway of that awesome book mentioned above, WALLFLOWER IN BLOOM to one of you lucky lucky commenters! Woot!
So leave your comments, feel free to chat with Claire today, and a winner will be chosen tonight!
Good luck and have fun!!
Claire Cook was born in Virginia, and lived for many years in Scituate, Massachusetts, a beach town between Boston and Cape Cod. She and her husband have recently moved to the suburbs of Atlanta to be closer to family, including their two adult kids. She shares writing and reinvention tips at ClaireCook.com and loves connecting with readers on Facebook (ClaireCookauthorpage) and Twitter (@ClaireCookwrite). She resisted joining Pinterest as long as she could, but now she’s there, too, pinning away.
Oh Claire, you sound like someone I’d love to have lunch with – I’m not a fan of snarky myself. Sharla, love your interview questions – you really get to the important stuff fast, and it’s very entertaining! Haven’t read Claire yet – but sure will, now!
Tracy Solheim says
Claire, I love your books! I agree that mid-life is the best and a great time to launch a new career–especially if it’d doing something you love, like writing. 🙂
Thanks for this post, Sharla … and Claire … thanks for highlighting mid-life for the productive and fun time it can be. Now, if you will both take a deep breathe and prepare … the stuff we old broads are made of is headed in your direction. I think you’ll be ready to take “vintage” on with the same enthusiam 🙂
Sharla Lovelace says
Ooooh, “Vintage”, I like that. 🙂
sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches. says
Indeed, Sharla, your questions were right on. Smooth going. Thanks for the vintage, Florence. I appreciate the direction you’re thinking–especially with your heart of an 18 year old. Claire–fabulous stories, better writing, and always believable characters to identify with.
Lorrie Thomson says
Don’t put me in the hat, Sharla. Let someone else win. I’m just stopping in to say hi to Claire. She signed at my local indie years ago,Toadstool in Milford, NH, where I plan to debut sign in another year, just short of my 49th b’day. Claire was totally gracious, and her totally nice husband carried her books and then stamped them with flip-flops.
Richard Twum Darko says
I need help claire
Claire Cook says
Thanks so much for having me, Sharla! I remember your bookstore and that lovely book club pick so clearly – thanks for being so kind to me, then and now! And a huge congrats on making the jump to author – I wish you much joy and continued success with your novels.
I’ve been up since the crack of dawn working on revisions, so please excuse my mushy brain. Wish we could all have lunch – and thanks so much for looking forward to reading my books, Laura! Thank you, Tracy – so nice of you to say and I totally agree about midlife! Ha! Vintage, ramblingsfromtheleft, I love it! Thank you so much, sheridegrom! Lorrie, I remember meeting you – huge congrats on your debut – and my husband is still a nice guy! If you mean writing help, Richard, go to the For Writers page at http://ClaireCook.com – everything I’ve learned so far is there. Okay, I’m off to have a glass of wine and some dinner! Will check back soon – and if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, come find me! (http://facebook.com/ClaireCookauthorpage and http://twitter.com/ClaireCookwrite)
Have a great night, everybody!
Sheila Seabrook says
Hi Claire and Sharla … I confess, after reading this interview, I’ve just downloaded my first Claire Cook book and am looking forward to reading it. Love the interview, ladies. And Claire, I love Your advise to women. They’re all things we can practice every day of our lives. 🙂
Claire, you truly sound happy. Your happiness is contagious!
Sharla Lovelace says
Hey everyone!! Sorry I wasn’t able to get back on yesterday, I was on the road, and then my destination (brother’s house) had no internet connection. !! So now I’m back to let you know that the winner of Claire’s book is…… Sheri DeGrom!!! Yay!!! Sheri, I’ll send Claire your email address and she will contact you directly Congrats!!
Enjoyed reading the interview. i am always looking for new authors to read and your book sounds really good. i like the cover.