What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Alan Cook; Born: Buffalo, New York, USA; Live now: Los Angeles, California
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I have always written, but I didn’t think I could make a living as a writer, so I went into the computer business instead.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
When I left the computer business and started writing novels in the nineties I started calling myself a writer.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I wrote 4 practice novels over 10 years before I published one.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Writing is my full-time job now.
My latest book is Dancing with Bulls, my first young-adult book. Quick summary: Matthew and Mason get whisked back to ancient Crete and have to dance with a bull.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
Self-publish (Indie). That’s where the money is for most writers now.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It takes me a year to write and publish a full-size novel.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’m not sure what the future holds. I’ve published 3 adult novels in the Carol Golden amnesia series and one young-adult book recently. Perhaps more young-adult.
What genre would you place your books into?
My adult novels are mystery/suspense with some action/adventure thrown in. Dancing with Bulls is an adventure novel.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I write mysteries because I like to solve puzzles. I write adventure because I’ve traveled widely and like to visit new places and see new things.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
My favorite character is Carol Golden from my amnesia novels (Forget to Remember, Relatively Dead, Dangerous Wind) because she is feisty and skeptical of authority. She does what she wants to without much concern for other people’s opinions.
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
The character I would want to be is Gary Blanchard from 2 of my mysteries, The Hayloft and Honeymoon for Three. He has a more successful high school career than I did, athletically and romantically speaking.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I have been writing novels for over 20 years. My inspiration was my first personal computer. I hadn’t considered writing a book before that.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
My plots come from life and from my imagination. Most of the locations are real, and some of my characters are combinations of people I’ve known.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I write in my study on my computer every morning when I’m working on a book, until I’ve written at least a thousand words, hopefully. Sometimes I keep going until I’m too hungry to continue.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
My wife is my first reader. Sometimes I use an editor.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I will gift E-copies of my books in exchange for reviews.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Reading reviews can be painful, although eventually I read most of them.
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
I have had many good reviews; I don’t have a favorite. Many of the “bad” reviews don’t make any sense.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
I try to have covers that are relevant to the book. Janelle Carbajal designs my covers and did the illustrations for Dancing with Bulls.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Titles came first for several books, after the book was written for others.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Character names I often draw out of a hat. I try to give characters in a book names that aren’t too similar. Place names are often real. Sometimes I change the place names slightly to protect the guilty.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Characters come alive as I write the book. I keep a list of characters and their traits as I discover them
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I don’t outline in advance. I outline after each chapter to make it easier for me to remember what happened when.
How do you market/promote your books?
Marketing/promoting is difficult. I use all the online sites I can, sometimes write blogs, give talks, try to get newspaper coverage, anything that might work.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
I consider writer’s block to be fear of not writing well. I try to write through it, telling myself that I can always revise later.
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
My hobbies are walking/hiking and travel. My wife and I have been to over 60 countries. I have walked the End-to-end in the UK from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
I have characters who are loosely based on real people or a combination of several people. I have put real events in my books, usually altered some.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
Ray Bradbury was a big influence on my writing life because he spoke to our writers’ group every year for many years. Alas, he is dead now.
(I remember a teacher reading us short stories by Ray Bradbury and I loved listening to them, I do intend to read more. Ray Bradbury was my introduction to sci-fi)
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
All my books are available as Ebooks. Some are in paperback. A few are in hardback. Ebooks sell best for me.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m reading Die Laughing, by Steve Allen. Yes, I’m enjoying it. He namedrops real celebrities and locations a lot.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
No, printed books will always be with us. But the use of Ebooks will grow.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
Parents should read to their children when they are young and get them interested in books. My 2 grandsons are voracious readers.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I have always written poetry, stories, etc., ever since I could hold a pencil. I wrote the lyrics for my high school alma mater when I was thirteen.
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
I like to read spy stories as much as anything, but I read in different genres.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I don’t see myself reading Moby Dick.
I have done one book trailer (for Run into Trouble). I’m not sure they’re worth the time and expense.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
My advice to writers is write, write, write, write what you are passionate about, write your million words to learn your craft.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I do not use a pen name.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Writers I would invite to dinner include Sir Walter Scott, Alan Furst and Ray Bradbury. (I have actually eaten dinner with Ray Bradbury.)
Where can readers follow you?
Purchase Links for Alan Cook's Other Titles