Random Interviews: Eileen Cook & Marlene Perez

This week, you get two interviews for the price of one click! Today, we have Eileen Cook (What Would Emma Do?–recommended by Meg Cabot as a good holiday book to give this season) and Marlene Perez (Dead is the New Black–featured in CosmoGirl) here with us.

First, let’s talk to Eileen:

1) What is your typical writing day like?

I love the idea of having a set routine or process, but I find my life keeps getting in the way.  Sometimes I write at home and other times I like to be in a coffee shop or at the library. I write in the morning, afternoon or evening- depending on when I have the time. The only consistent would be that when I am in the middle of the story I find I need to write at least a small bit every day or I lose track of the story.

I think it is important for new writers to know that there is no ?right? way to do this. Some people write for an hour at dawn, some write at lunch, some write only on the weekends. It doesn?t matter how you do it- just that you keep trying.

2) Why did you decide to write YA?

It was less of a decision and more of an inspiration. I had a story idea that I wanted to write and it fell into the category of YA. One thing I really like about writing for the YA market is the automatic higher stakes. Everything matters more when you are that age, you love more than anyone ever has before and you  hate with more passion. It makes creating the characters a lot of fun.

3) What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced when it comes to book publishing?

That the world kept spinning along just like it always did. There were no trumpets, no parade, and Oprah didn?t call. I have wanted to write as long as I could remember and it had been such a journey to publication that it seemed that life should somehow be RADICALLY different when it actually came true. The truth is that I still spend most of my days writing in a stretched out sweatshirt and drinking gallons of tea.

However, if anyone wants to organize something, I am still very open to the idea of a parade.

4) Do you ever have any “dark days,” when you wonder why you’re a  writer? What are those like, and how to you get through them?

I?ve had many a dark day. Sometimes it is because of something external: a rejection (or two or three), a problem with publication, or a bad review. The harder dark days are in the internal, when I doubt my abilities and wonder if I wouldn?t be better suited to some other field like professional ice dancer or dishwasher.

The way I get through the dark days is to remember the reason I started writing in the first place. It was because I enjoyed it.  There are a million jobs someone could do that are easier. I picked this one because I liked it. If I stop finding the joy in the process then it is time to do something else.

5) Authors talk about “the call.” Usually, it has to deal with  getting an agent or getting published or getting an accolade. What  was the best “call” you ever received in terms of your writing, and  how did it go down?

My favorite ?call? moment is when I signed with my agent. I had seen an interview with her in a writing magazine when I was working on my book. I stuck the interview up on my bulletin board and on those difficult days I would look at it and imagine that she was out there just waiting for this book.  I sent her a query and she emailed asking for a full. The day she called to offer me representation I was bouncing off the walls. (While trying to act like a cool, calm, professional on the phone. I thought it would be better if I saved my spaz/nerd tendencies until she knew me better.)

Getting the call when she had sold the manuscript was also great, but signing with her was my first step towards feeling like people not related to me might actually like what I was doing.  It was a great validation and I still feel fortunate to have her in my corner.

And now, here’s Marlene Perez:

1) What is your typical writing day like?

I don’t really have a typical writing day. I have four kids so I fit writing in whenever I have a few minutes. I usually take my son to school and then get a couple of hours of writing in while my twins are napping. I write in the evenings sometimes. I wish I had a writing schedule! I also head to a cafe and write, far away from the distractions of laundry and e-mail.

2) Why did you decide to write YA?

I’ve always loved young adult novels and I’ve always been a voracious reader. I’m the youngest of twelve children and we had one television in the house. My older siblings had dibs on the t.v., so I spent hours reading. As an adult, I started out wanting to write a novel for adults. I still have a partial of a Regency romance in a drawer somewhere.

3) What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced when it comes to  book publishing?

I didn’t have a clue about the business side of things, and I feel like I’m still learning. I do think it’s important to be as educated as you can be about the business.

4) Do you ever have any “dark days,” when you wonder why you’re a  writer? What are those like, and how to you get through them?

Well, I’m resigned to the fact that I’m a writer because I have to be, and I’d continue to write, even if I was never published again. The dark days occur when I’m exposed to too much negativity. I think surrounding yourself with positive people who believe in you is critical to your success as writer. If there is a toxic person in your life, especially in your writing career, do your best to get that person out of your life. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be edited or critiqued, because that’s essential to improving your writing, but there are people out there who only want to tear you down. Don’t let them. I get through my dark days with the help of my critique group and my husband, who never lets me take myself too seriously.

5) Authors talk about “the call.” Usually, it has to deal with  getting an agent or getting published or getting an accolade. What  was the best “call” you ever received in terms of your writing, and  how did it go down?

I think the first call is always special, but honestly, every sale is a thrill to me because even after you sell that first book, there’s no guarantee of a second or a third sale, especially in today’s economy. I was thrilled when my teen paranormal mystery series, starting with DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK, sold at auction. And I have to say that every time I get a call from my agent, he usually has good news for me, so those calls are fun.

For more Eileen, click here. For more Marlene, click here.

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