Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Jeffery Cook
One of my most favorite things during the creation of this project has been learning about what specific component about writing is important to each author. Whether it be the location where they write, the time of day that they get their best work done, or who they work with. Collaboration is a huge part of the process when writing and publishing a book and my next Author, Jeffery Cook, explains how collaboration has helped him along the way....
Describe the genre you write. What got you into it?
I write all kinds of "speculative fiction" (sci-fi and fantasy), but my very first series is alternate history / Steampunk: specifically, what's called 'emergent Steampunk.' The Dawn of Steam books, in keeping with the title, are set in what we'd call the Regency period, some time ahead of the high Victorian setting of most Steampunk fiction, and as epistolary novels, they're written in that style. But it's still very much Jules-Verne-style science fiction.
What authors inspire you to write in this genre?
Frankenstein is probably my all-time favorite novel, and we managed to work a Mary Shelley reference into Dawn of Steam. In terms of broader inspiration, science fiction and fantasy have always been some of my favorite genres, but I chose to write a Steampunk series after two of the characters came to mind in a sort of waking dream. A Steampunk setting was the only place I could see them sharing a world. I woke up from a dream picturing the heroine of one of my latest novels, too, a Young Adult contemporary Fantasy. In terms of authors, in that case, it's dedicated to the late Sir Terry Pratchett for several reasons.
Do you struggle with "writer's block", if so, how do you overcome it?
It can be a recurring problem sometimes more for reasons of distractions around the house more than anything else. It's why I now spend most of the day handling the business end of the book stuff, then do most of my writing at night, after everyone, even the dogs, has gone to bed. I sometimes also use music playlists, tailored to a particular story, while writing. Additionally, it really helps to kick ideas around with co-writers.
You collaborate with a couple other authors on projects, can you describe the process?
The process is different with every collaborator. For the Dawn of Steam books, Sarah Symonds went through the draft I'd written inserting footnotes from the point of view of a future character looking back. When I helped head up the Writerpunk Press charity anthologies, that was a lot of separate writers with their own stories to tell coming together and just needing a little coordination. In the new urban fantasy A.J. Downey and I have written, we literally traded off writing chapters.
My work that's co-written with Katherine Perkins, who's also my editor on nearly everything, starts as an outline developed between the two of us--an outline that will hold until such time as it doesn't and gets rewritten. Then Kate goes through and writes large non-sequential sections, especially dialogue. Then I go through and write the parts in between, then Kate gives that an editing pass and rewrites a few sections. There's a lot of back and forth.
Why is collaborating important to you? Besides writing, do you collaborate in other forms?
Collaborative storytelling has always been comfortable for me. When I was very young, I spent a lot of time on long road trips with my dad, and he'd talk me through little collaborative stories where I got to decide what the character did. That's probably part of why, according to my mom, I started announcing that i wanted to be a writer when I was six. I've also, for most of my life, been a big fan of role-playing games and all the ideas bounced around within them. So collaborative storytelling is also a big part of my time with friends.
What are you working on now?
Kate and I are currently working on the sequel to Foul is Fair, our YA contemporary fantasy, as well as a Steampunk short story for a charity anthology.
Where can we find your books?
Dawn of Steam: First Light: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOC6HNU
Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N5D9BK4/
Dawn of Steam: Rising Suns: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UIL0TOI/
Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets (published by Fire and Ice YA Press):
Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk (a charity anthology by Writerpunk Press benefiting PAWS animal rescue): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UIL0YP2/
Foul is Fair: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XDPIA7O/
Airs & Graces: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1515127486/
As a reader, when you start a book do you always finish it or not?
If I get through about chapter 4, I'll tend to try and finish it. That's usually enough time for me to tell if a book is going to grip me or not. If it's by an author I know or work with, I make a serious effort to finish it, regardless.
Thank you Jeff for being a part of this project, it was a pleasure. Special thank you to the AFK Eatery in Renton, your staff was incredibly courteous to me and my good friend/assistant, Erin Segale.
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