Tag Archives: Claire Cook

Interview with Claire Cook: ‘I’m absolutely living my dream!’

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“I was so not the kind of mother who would ever snoop in her daughter’s diary. But I did it anyway, standing in the hallway outside her bedroom, my heart beating wildly, because I knew my daughter would totally flip out if she caught me. Maybe most mothers eventually break their own code of ethics this way, and in our defense I would have to say it comes from the fiercest kind of love. The world is a tough place, and children are so terrifyingly fragile. Making sure your kid is okay triumphs everything.”

Oh come on, you know you’ve done it or at least was tempted! This is an excerpt from Claire Cook’s ‘Seven Year Switch just released from Hyperion Books.

Claire masterfully tells the story of Jill Murray, single mother trying to keep the roof over her head and her 10-year-old daughter safely under her wings despite the fact runaway dad has popped back in their lives much to the chagrain of Jill but the delight of their daughter, Anastasia. It’s a wonderful book about finding yourself and doing what’s right despite the fact it tears you to pieces.

We interviewed Claire to find out more about her book, Seven Year Switch. Enjoy!

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Claire CookThank you for this interview, Claire. Can we begin by having you tell everyone what your new book, Seven Year Switch, is all about?

Claire: Thanks for having me! Seven Year Switch is the story of a single mother whose husband ran off to join the Peace Corps, leaving her with a three-year-old. Seven years later, just when they’ve figured out how to make it on their own, he’s ba-ack – proving he can’t even run away reliably! Now Jill has to face the fact that there’s simply no way she can be a good mom without letting her ex back into her daughter’s life. They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, and it takes a Costa Rican getaway to help Jill make her choice – between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be.

Did you take any part of your real life and work it into the novel somehow? Are there any similarities?

Claire: I think all of my characters contain little bits of me, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write them convincingly. That being said, none of my characters are autobiographical. The great part of writing fiction is you get to make things up for a living!

Where did you get the idea for your main character, Jill Murray, to work answering phones for Great Girlfriend Getaways and teaching Lunch Around the World at the community center?

Claire: Like so many of us, Jill’s life didn’t turn out quite the way she planned. By this point in her life she thought she’d be a cultural coach, jetting around the world working with diplomatic families before they headed off on their next foreign service post or with international business people. Instead, in order to provide stability for her daughter, she’s become a Jill-of-all-trades, cobbling together a life as best she can. I followed my own children to their school as a teacher and stayed for sixteen years before I became a novelist, so on some level I knew those feelings. As for the cultural aspects, they were just something I wanted to know more about. Sometimes I write what I know, and sometimes I write what I want to know! And I also wanted to work in a trip to Costa Rica, so my readers would get to go there vicariously, and so I’d simply have to take a research trip!

Seven Year Switch 2How did you come up with the storyline? Did you go with an idea, and then let the words fly or did you map it out first?

Claire: My novels are character-driven, so they always start with the characters. And then, because they’re essentially slice-of-life novels, I think about what is the explosion that makes the book start on this particular day? In Seven Year Switch, it’s the reappearance of Jill’s husband after seven years. After that, I just feel my way through by picturing the characters and their interactions, based on who they are. Robert Frost said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” The parts I didn’t plan often turn out to be the best parts of my books, so I’m glad I allow myself to stay open to these surprises.

Claire, in a recent interview, you said your first manuscript sold on the first try. Can you tell us all about this?

I wrote my first novel, Ready to Fall, in my minivan in the parking lot outside my daughter’s swim practice during one long cold New England winter ten years ago when I was 45. Amazingly, it sold to the first publisher who asked to read it. I think the trick to avoid rejection might be to procrastinate for decades and skip all those awful stages!

Hindsight 20/20, if the first publisher you approach wants your book, you should get an agent fast! I only queried two agents, who were both so famous even I had heard of them. One wrote back: “Dear Claire, If your novel is half as funny as your query letter, you will definitely find someone, however it won’t be me.” I thought, ha, who needs an agent? So I submitted to Bridgeworks, the publisher who launched Tom Perrotta and Lorna Landvik, and they took it. I spent more on gas driving to the few stores who would let me do events than I made on the advance, but the novel did well enough to bring me to the attention of my agent, the famous and wonderful Lisa Bankoff at ICM, and in her brilliant hands, my next novel went to auction, and at 50 I walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the adaptation of my second novel, Must Love Dogs. I’m now 55 and the bestselling author of seven novels, and I’m absolutely living my dream!

I know Hyperion is doing a bang up job of promoting Seven Year Switch. Can you tell my readers what they have done for you so far?

Claire: Hyperion has terrific marketing, publicity and sales departments, and they’re really behind my books, so I have lots of support.

Seven Year Switch has received beach read shout outs from People, USA Today, The New York Times and more. My books are also displayed front and center on the beach read tables in both indie and chain stores. I had incredible turnouts of enthusiastic women at my Seven Year Switch events. (Photos up on events page ClaireCook.com.)

I answer every email. I chat and Skype and do conference calls with book clubs. I tell my readers how much I appreciate them every chance I get.

That being said, I think it’s important to bring as much energy as I can to the mix, and I do. I have an active website. I do lots of networking on Facebook and Twitter. Seven Year Switch even has a great book trailer.

You also have a book out, Must Love Dogs, that was made into a Warner Bros. feature film starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. Would you like to share with us how that happened?

Claire: I’d just done a signing at a bookstore in Vermont and there was a big display of autographed books. Gary David Goldberg, who created Family Ties, Spin City and Lou Grant, wandered in looking for something to read. He said he brought the book home, poured a glass of wine and sat down with it — and never got up till he finished! The next day he called my literary agent in NY, and the rest is history! The movie experience was a blast — I got to hang out on the set and on location, and they gave me a director’s chair with my name on it and the actors all autographed it for me! I walked the red carpet at the premiere — and was even on Access Hollywood and Extra!

What’s next for you?

Claire: I’m just about to dive into revisions on my next novel, which will be out in summer 2011!

Thank you so much for this interview and we wish you much success!

Claire: Thank you so much — it’s been great talking with you!

Thank you so much for your time in answering our questions, Claire. Godspeed to you! Claire will be on virtual book tour throughout July to talk more about her book, Seven Year Switch. If you’d like to visit her official tour page where you can read more interviews and guest posts from this wonderfully talented author, click here.

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A Day in the Life of Bestselling Author Claire Cook

Claire Cook

A Day in the Life of Bestselling Author Claire Cook

by Claire Cook

I wrote my first novel at 5 AM in my minivan outside my daughter’s swim practice, and while I’m thrilled to have moved inside to a home office, I’ve kept the early morning writing habit.

I wake up and spread some whole wheat toast with almond butter while the coffee is brewing, then I head up to my office with a big mug of coffee and get to work. I like to start my day’s writing before I’m fully awake, before the doubt and procrastination set in. Before the rest of the world is awake.

I write two pages a day, seven days a week. This keeps me almost living in the book, following the characters, nudging the story forward.

I start by rereading and polishing the pages from the day before, which helps me find the rhythm again. I try not to go back much farther than that. If I did, I might still be working on the first chapter of my first novel instead of my eighth!

Seven Year Switch 2Sometimes my two pages take only a few hours. Sometimes I wrestle well into the night. My deal with myself is that I’m not allowed to go to bed until I’ve finished my daily quota. Books are fun to start and triumphant to finish, but all those pesky pages in between can really get you into trouble. So this works for me. No matter what else happens in my life, I can finish two pages.

And two pages become four, then six, then eight, and one miraculous day I have the first draft of a novel. And then the revising begins!

For more writing tips, and to win a beach bag filled with all 7 of Claire’s novels, plus a beach towel, go to http://ClaireCook.com.

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Bestselling author Claire Cook on virtual book tour July ’10

Claire CookJoin Claire Cook as she virtual tours the blogosphere in July ’10 to promote her new book, Seven Year Switch (Hyperion), which is the perfect beach read this summer!

Claire is the bestselling author of seven novels including Must Love Dogs which was adapted into a Warner Brothers movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, The Wildwater Walking Club, Life’s a Beach, and her latest, Seven Year Switch. Her reinvention workshops have been featured on The Today Show, and she has been a judge for the Thurber Humor Prize and the Family Circle fiction contest. Her books have been featured on Good Morning America and in People, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and more. She has two kids, seven brothers and sisters, and one husband. She lives in Scituate, MA.

Seven Year Switch 2Seven Year Switch centers on Jill Murray who is perfectly happy living a man-free existence. She’s got Anastasia, her ten-year-old daughter, and a sweet little bungalow to call home. Life as a cultural coach didn’t turn out quite the way she planned, but between answering phones for Great Girlfriend Getaways and teaching Lunch Around the World classes, the dust in this Jill-of-all-trades life is starting to settle.

Then her ex-husband comes back.

They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, and Jill has long ago stopped wishing her deadbeat husband would return. Now she has to face the fact there’s simply no way she can be a good mom without letting Seth back into their daughter’s life. But why can’t she seem to hold herself together around him? And then there’s Billy, the free-spirited, bike-riding entrepreneur who hires Jill as a consultant. When their business relationship seems destined for something more Jill’s no-boys-allowed life is suddenly anything but.

It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help Jill make her choice — between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be. It’s a wild ride, sure to thrill Claire Cook’s many fans, complete with laughter, revelations, and one heckuva big tarantula.

People Magazine says, “Bestseller Cook charms again with this lively warm-hearted look at changing courses mid-life.”

Publishers Weekly says, “Cook creates an impossible-not-to-love cast of imperfect, funny, wistful, and wise characters.”

Kirkus Reviews says “Cook hits her marks…a beach tote couldn’t ask for more.”

If you’d like to follow along with Claire as she tours the blogosphere in July, visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store including giveaways. Find out things about Claire you never knew before on her Seven Year Switch Virtual Book Tour ’10!

You can visit Claire’s website and find reinvention and writing tips at http://www.ClaireCook.com. Friend her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks/. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks/.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

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Claire Cook’s ‘Seven Year Switch’ book giveaway for reviewers!

Seven Year Switch 2Claire giveaway

Claire Cook, author of the just released women’s fiction novel, Seven Year Switch, is offering a super giveaway for those lucky readers who are willing to post a review at Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook or Barnes & Noble! Here are her details:

Because I know it’s the power of my incredible readers spreading the word to your friends and family that will make this book take off, we’re going to have another giveaway!

All you have to do is read SEVEN YEAR SWITCH and post a nice review on Amazon (buy locally, review globally is my motto!) Goodreads or Facebook or Barnes & Noble or even your own blog, and email the link to the review to Claire @ ClaireCook.com. (Just make sure you put REVIEW in the subject line so I don’t think it’s spam.)

You can post the same review on as many sites as you want – in fact I hope you will! – and each one counts as another entry! The prize is pictured above: a beach bag filled with a complete autographed set of all seven of my novels – and a beach towel, of course!

If you already own signed copies of all my books, you can donate the whole thing to a fundraiser for your favorite charity or use them as birthday presents.

Thank you — your support is what has made this midlife career of mine possible, and I appreciate it so very much.

— Claire Cook

Visit Claire Cook’s website at www.clairecook.com.

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