I mentioned in my review of Shark Bait that I was going to do a giveaway for the eBook....and here it is!
The author, the amazingly, wonderfully, talented Jenn Cooksey has agreed to answer a few questions for us about herself and her debut novel!
Tell us a little about yourself?
So I'm sitting here trying to think of what I can tell you about myself that isn't already public knowledge and wondering if anything in this interview would be considered admissible. So let's see, what does that leave me with...? Well, I'm an only child, at 13 I lost my grandparents on my dad's side when they died in a plane crash and thus I have no desire to ever visit Wyoming, which is where the wreckage was found after more than a week of not knowing where they went down. I spent most of my teen life living with my mom and my remaining set of grandparents and I currently have 5 tattoos. I got my first ink when I was 18, the next at 19 and although my grandma knew and thought they were cool, I kept them both hidden from my mom until I was digging in her closet for a pair of shoes and she saw my ankle. She didn't realize it was a tattoo and asked what it was. My immediate response was to say "Dirt" and then I ran down the hall to my room at top speed and proceeded to hide under my blankets while my boyfriend who was living with us laughed at me and my sheer panic. I'm seriously codependent and can't make a decision to save my life (ask anyone who's ever been a participant in one of my text polls). I'm fiercely protective of my family and friends and I was classically trained in ballet. I love board games except my oldest BFFLE and I aren't allowed to play Monopoly together because the last time we did in 5th grade, we got into a fist fight with each other over making change (one of us was bogarting the ones, and no, I can't remember who it was anymore because it was like 30 years ago), and no one will play Clue with me anymore because I ALWAYS win. Everyone says I cheat, but I swear, I don't—I'm just awesome like that.
What's the first book you remember LOVING as a teen?
As much as I adore reading now, I hated reading as a teen. Until I was handed a copy of Dean Koontz's Watchers the summer before my junior year of high school. From there on out, I read everything I could find of his, I mixed in some Stephen King, Michael Crichton, and I read the entire Bourne series including The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum in like 4 days, but the brilliance of Matt Damon aside, don't even get me started on what they did with the Bourne movie franchise...
Why did you become a writer? What is it that draws you to it?
This is a tough one...I don't know if most authors always knew that they wanted to write, but it was never even a faint thought of mine. Even as a child I was told that I have a gift for writing, but I mean I hated reading, so why would I want to write?! However, a few years ago one of my BFFs and I had stayed up entirely too late reading, and we were on the phone discussing the the book we'd just finished and we were being punchy. We got off topic (shocker, right?) and were laughing about an outlandish idea we had for a book—I mean it was a total sham...like a parody of every vampire story you've ever read combined with a movie that I won't name because we might still go back and do it. Anyway, she and I decided we wanted to write a book together. She works full-time though, and I have no life so I started working on it the morning (er...afternoon) after that late-night phone call. And I didn't stop. She loved what I was coming up with and told me to just run with it, so, I did. I discovered I actually enjoy writing more than reading—if you can believe it—and that, in a nutshell, is how I started my writing career.
As far as what draws me to it, well...I'm honestly not sure. I know it's really freaking awesome, though, that I can end my stories the way I want them to end—that way when I finish reading the book, I don't want to throw it across the room because it didn't end the way I was hoping it would.
Why did you decide to write your first book about teens?
Actually, I didn't. The first book I wrote was paranormal and all the characters were old enough to legally vote and buy booze in any state and/or country. It was the first in a trilogy and despite having a partial of the manuscript requested by the first literary agent I queried, not only did I not publish it, I never finished writing the series because the first three sentences of chapter one in Shark Bait blindsided me while I was driving my kids to our homeschool park day one Friday. From there, the story practically wrote itself, so I kind of don't think I had any choice in the matter.
There are a LOT of '80s/'90s TV, movie and music references in this book. Why? What about those decades do you love so much?
Sigh. Yeah, I know... Basically, Camie and I are of like minds when it comes to music. I whole heartedly believe that music is important in our lives and I don't think I know anyone who can honestly say that they don't have a mental soundtrack for some of the big events they've either already experienced or hope to some day in the future—seriously, Bob Carlisle's Butterfly Kisses wasn't such a huge hit just because it's a catchy tune. It was played at every wedding and danced to by every father and daughter in the free world for almost an entire decade, so now when someone hears it, it's more than likely they're going to picture a wedding reception. But that's what music is supposed to do... You hear a song or piece of music and if it does its job, it inevitably transports you to a different time or place, evoking memories and inspiring dreams. Plus, I think music helps us to remember because unlike our memories which can fade over time without something to anchor them in our minds, music is eternal and provides an excellent weight, enabling us to hold onto what is precious.
The TV and movie references are simply because I want to show that these characters are normal, everyday people. They watch TV and go to movies just like everyone else does, and realistically, these are the things kids will initially bond with each other over. Not many teens are going to be interested in debating politics with their friends (I certainly don't blame them there) and typically, one of the first things kids are going to talk about when they meet is one or all three of those things—music, movies, and TV shows. With Camie and Tristan however, they're very similar in their tastes and their preferences to less contemporary media is what sets them apart from their peers, giving them something more in common with each other than with others of their generation. Plus, I personally have a habit of speaking in pop-culture references in my own life. And in my opinion, a lot of the things I reference have value in and of themselves. Like it's my heartfelt belief that everyone should watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least once in their lives, because if they don't, they're not taking advantage of the phenomenal opportunity to see what true, on-screen genius looks like.
And as far as what I love about the '80s...well...what is there to not love? We had it all...great music, rockin' hair styles, mostly decent fashion, Ronald Reagan, and the best social networking was done hovering around a keg in some kid's backyard while his trusting parents weren't home. So maybe aside from the over abundance of blinding neon and the unfortunate success of parachute pants, and the fact that Aqua Net hairspray probably has a lot to answer for with the planet's diminished ozone layer, the '80s can probably proclaim itself the best decade in the history of the world. And I turned 21 in the '90s, so, it was a kickass time for me.
WHERE did you get your crazy sense of humor?!
I think my sense of humor is a survival skill that's developed over many years of life throwing me and/or my loved ones some wicked curve balls. You can't possibly hit them all out of the ballpark, so when you swing hard and miss, ending flat on your ass, it helps to be able to laugh about it. Plus, crying give me migraines. Not only that, but I'm married to a guy who has instilled the deep belief in our daughters from the time that they were in diapers that farts are funny, and being that babies (and guys) are pretty damned gassy, I've just accepted that resistance is futile.
Do you have a favorite character in Shark Bait?
Ugh. This is one I don't think I can answer. It's like Sophie's Choice—asking me to pick a favorite between my children as all of my characters live and breathe for me. I will say this though; I really heart the guys in my books.
Can you tell us about your next project?
Well I'm sort of OCD with my writing process, and right now I'm wholly focused on the Grab Your Pole series. I've already written books 2 and 3, and I'm part way into book 4. I might go back to that paranormal trilogy I was working on before Shark Bait took over my creative life, and I have some very preliminary ideas for roughly 7 stand alone YA stories (and when I say preliminary, I mean I have some ideas for titles), but I won't be touching those ideas until books 4, 5, and 6 in the GYP series are completed. I'm also toying with the idea of doing a collection-type thing with the Wall of Infamy conversations that don't make it into any of the books—just for fun. And if one of my BFFs who is a screen writer decides to write a pilot for GYP like she's thinking of doing, then I'm sure I'll stick my nose in that too. I mean I know I have no business writing anything for TV or the silver screen, but I at least would like a little say so in casting, or maybe I could finagle myself onto the set during filming. I mean come on...who wouldn't sell their soul for one of those uber-awesome chairs with a star and their name on the back of it?!
What do you hope readers will get from Shark Bait?
First and foremost, I want people to enjoy their reading experience. I'm not in it for fame or money (Shhh...don't tell my husband I said that), I just honestly love doing what I do and I want my characters to have a life outside of my hard drive. I'd also like readers to understand that regardless of how someone might appear to be perfect on the outside, no one is. We all make mistakes and ill-advised decisions, and we all behave poorly sometimes and that's okay. The goal is to learn from ALL of our experiences and without knowing what the bad stuff looks and feels like, the incredibly great things in life wouldn't be nearly as amazing. And the fact of the matter is, life is messy and shit happens. We can't go around with our heads stuck in the sand like an ostrich, ignoring the scary or ugly stuff, but we can learn how to overcome the setbacks and deal with the mess, as well as what it truly means to extend grace.
Where do you see Tristan and Camie in ten years?
I hate to be such a tease, but you'll have to wait and read book 6 to find out the answer to this. ;-)
Hahaha! Thank you so much, Jenn! You rock!
And now here's YOUR chance to win an eBook of Shark Bait for either Kindle or Nook!
All you have to do is comment below and tell me what YOUR favourite 80's movie is!
The giveaway is open internationally and closes at midnight ET on July 14. Random.org will choose ONE winner, so PLEASE BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT so I can contact you if you win!
The winner will have 48 hours to reply before another winner is chosen.
Ready, set, GO!