Interview with Claire Cook: 'I wrote my first novel in my minivan outside my daughter's swim practice'

Claire Cook is the bestselling author of seven novels, including Must Love Dogs, which was adapted into a Warner Bros. 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. You can visit her website at www.ClaireCook.com, connect with her on facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks or see what she's up to on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Claire. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Seven Year Switch?

Thanks for having me! After decades of fear and procrastination, I wrote my first novel in my minivan outside my daughter’s swim practice when I was 45. Amazingly, it sold to the first publisher who asked to read it. At 50, I walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the movie adaptation of my second novel, Must Love Dogs. I’ve been a novelist for 10 years now, and I’m the bestselling author of seven novels. Midlife rocks!


Q: I love your title, Seven Year Switch…can you tell us why you chose it?

Thanks. It’s my seventh novel, so that’s where it started. They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, and reinvention is very much a theme in all of my novels, so that was the next step. The heroine of Seven Year Switch is a single mom who’s trying to find the courage to take the leap to her next chapter. Her husband abandoned her seven years ago, and then one day – he’s ba-ack!


Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

My goal is to become a better writer with each novel. I work really hard at that, and I think I’ve done it. To me it’s the most important thing in this writing life, and also the only part an author can control. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have supportive readers who are always asking for the next book!


Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Hyperion Voice have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

This is my fourth novel with Hyperion Voice. They value my opinion, respect how connected I am to my readers, and want me to be a happy camper. So we just keep going back and forth until we’re all satisfied. As I remember, the first few Seven Year Switch covers the cover designer came up with were great covers, but I didn’t think they were right for my audience. So I looked for some photos that had what I thought was more of the right feel, and one of those was the jumping off point. It was very much a collaborative experience, and I absolutely love the final Seven Year Switch cover. To quote the Kirkus review, “a beach tote couldn’t ask for more.”


Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

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


Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Seven books in, I think my novels have become a brand of their own, and I don’t think they’re quite like anyone else’s. Fun, feisty, beachy, inspiring, and very much about real people. Two comments I hear all the time from readers are, “OMG, you’re writing my life,” and “I can’t remember when I laughed out loud like that.”


Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

The heroine is sitting on a toilet in Costa Rica, her ankles bound in Spanx. Is that furry tickle on her ankle really a black zebra tarantula?


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely! Hyperion Voice will publish my next novel in summer 2011.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Claire. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Thank you so much, The Writer’s Life. I hope your readers will visit my website at http://ClaireCook.com to find out more about Seven Year Switch and for writing and reinvention tips. They can also friend me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks and follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks. Seven Year Switch is available at bookstores everywhere as well as online.


For more on Claire and her book, watch the delicious book trailer!

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