Author Interview with Angela Cook
May 15, 2015 Leave a comment
This month I bring you an interview with fellow GoatPosse member and YA author, Angela Cook. Her debut novel, INTO A MILLION PIECES was published just this past January with Red Adept Publishing.
So let’s begin…
- Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?
I live just outside of Detroit with my husband and two children. During the week, I work part time as a records clerk at a nearby police department. On the weekends, I can usually be found at a soccer field (but I will give a death glare to anyone who calls me a “soccer mom”). I write young adult contemporary and paranormal novels, which are usually a bit on the dark and/or edgy side.
- With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
Thankfully, my ability to support my family isn’t dependent on earning money from my writing (we’d all be starving if it was). I write because it’s something I enjoy doing. My decision to go into publishing was simply based on my desire to share my stories. If I can earn a little bit of pocket change (and really, it’s not much more than that at this point in my career) while doing so, why not? Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be successful some day and be able to write full time, but for now, I’m okay with paying my dues.
- YA is a very popular category for novels. Do you find it saturated?
There’s no denying the fact that there are a lot more YA books out there now than there were ten years ago, which means it’s a hell of a lot harder for a YA writer to get published than it used to be. A book that got published ten years ago might not have gotten a second glimpse had it been submitted today to that same publisher. This being said, I think the popularity of the YA category has forced authors to push themselves to come up with different premises and unique storylines. Also, there might be a lot more YA books out there now, but there’s also a broader audience for them than there was ten years ago. These days, many adults enjoy reading YA books, which leads to the next question…
- What do you say to those who say people who read YA are trying to ‘relive’ their teen years?
I don’t think adults who read YA are necessarily trying to relive their teen years. Maybe some are, but personally, I’ve yet to read a YA book that resembles my high school years. I think a large part of the attraction is the innocence and honesty of teenagers. Often, they don’t have much of a “filter,” and they’re not old enough to be jaded and bitter; they seem to come off more real and genuine in stories than their adult counterparts. Also, the experiences of these teenage main characters are often relatable (even if their lives don’t resemble the ones we had growing up). Falling in love for the first time, dealing with problems at home, being bullied at school–they’re all things that most of us have dealt with at one time another.
- What do you think of the more adult elements in some YA novels?
Since I am a writer of sometimes-edgy, YA fiction, I’m fine with adult elements. In the real world, adult things happen to teenagers all the time, and I think writers should stay true to the story they’re telling without worrying they might offend people. That being said, I think parents have the right to decide whether or not a book (or a game, or a movie, or a CD) is appropriate for their child. I’ve had parents ask me if the book is “okay” for their daughter to read, and I always tell them three things: (1) I consider it PG13. There’s some cussing, maybe one or two f-bombs, and some steamy make-out scenes. (2) I would let my thirteen-year-old son read it (which isn’t saying much since I’m pretty liberal when it comes to that kind of stuff). (3) If in doubt, read it yourself first and then decide.
- Is there one aspect or element that you feel is over-used in YA books? Is there something you’d like to see more of?
I’m tired of the “naturally-pretty and petite” female main character. I think that’s why I loved Rainbow Rowell’s ELEANOR AND PARK. The main character was a tall, thick, red head with freckles. And guess what? That fact didn’t take anything away from the romance aspect of the story; I still got giggly, giddy, and swoony reading about Eleanor and Park’s relationship. I’d love to see the teenage population better represented in YA books. Yes, some girls are naturally-pretty and petite at sixteen, but others are tall, curvy, and going through an awkward stage that will take them into their early twenties (I speak from experience). [Yup, same here. ~Darke]
- Have you ever thought about giving up? If you did, what changed your mind?
I can honestly say, I’ve never thought about giving up. Have I gotten beyond frustrated before? Sure. Have I thought about taking a break? Definitely. But the idea of stepping away from writing for good was never an option for me. Taking a story that existed only in my mind and bringing it to life by putting it down on paper is like nothing else I’ve ever done before; I can’t imagine there’s any substitute for the feeling of accomplishment I get from writing. Plus, I love that my stories are entertaining people and bringing them a little bit of joy—whether it’s twenty people, two hundred, or two thousand.
- What books (if any) have influenced you over the years?
Three books immediately come to mind: 1) THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald, because it introduced me to classic, American (and amazing) literature. It was the first book I remember falling absolutely in love with. 2) BELOVED by Toni Morrison, because it opened my eyes to the true beauty of words and all the magical and powerful things that could be done with them. 3) ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, because it inspired me to embrace my own unique writing style and voice.
9. Was there any one influence that made you want to write?
I don’t think there was any one influence that made me want to write. It’s something I’ve always loved doing, and writing a novel had always been a dream of mine. The thing that made me actually sit down and do it was an early mid-life crisis. I realized this is the only life we get, and I didn’t want to wake up one day, sixty years old, with a list of “should’ves.”
- What is the best thing you like about writing?
I like the escapism factor. Being able to forget about what’s going on in my world, while creating another, is like no other feeling.
Where to find Angela online:
Where to purchase her book: