Name: Nick Cook
Age: Just old enough to have watched the first moon landing live! :o)
Where are you from: London
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.
Having been inspired by the original Star Wars, I did a sculpture degree believing that would be a gateway to making special effects in the movies. Instead, I caught up in the birth of the home computer revolution and fell into designing graphics for computer games for over 20 years. I’m the youngest of four children and my Dad who was in the RAF met my mother when he was on a troop ship that was bound for Singapore in the 2nd World War. Much to his disgust he was dropped off what was then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), which is where he met my mum. A short time later that were married. My siblings enjoyed exotic lives abroad but they came back to the UK just before I was born. This is probably part of the reason I love travelling around the world…it’s in my DNA!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am working on a new top secret trilogy that is linked to the end of the Cloud Riders trilogy!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When I was 11 at Christmas my older sister gave me a copy of Lord of the Rings… It completely captured my imagination to the point I started writing my very first book! I got all the way to page ten before giving up, but the writing bug had been well and truly planted.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Maybe always, but professionally 8 years ago when I decided to leave the games industry to pursue my dreams and write full time.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I love writing in first person as it allows me to drop directly into the head of my characters. I pour over each and every sentence through each edit, trying to whittle words down until the text flows as well as I can possibly make it. This process naturally leads to a shorter sentence structure, which is easier to read. I always think the best books are where the text on the page disappears and you as a reader are drawn into the story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Cloud Riders was one of this gift of a titles that just sprang into my head. Better still when I told people it, everyone else loved it too. I think it says so much for just two words and in so many ways captures the spirit of the trilogy.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That sometimes you can look everywhere for happiness and miss what’s right in front of you…that sometimes the secret is to open your eyes to see how lucky you are. Dom, the main character goes on an incredible journey that challenge everything he is, but it is only right at the end of the final book (out in June 2016), that he realises that home is everything. Much like Bilbo returning to the Shire at the end of Lord of the Rings!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Now this is an interesting one when it comes to Cloud Riders. Lurking in the background is part of my love for quantum physics. Also, the book centres on a family of storm chasers in tornado alley. For this I had to do extensive research with real life storm chasers. What I learnt from them was a real eye opener and I have nothing but respect for the work that the serious storm chaser teams do and what motivates them (saving lives). That’s realism in the books is matched by the fantastical elements… an airship hits and out of it emerges an airship! And that’s what I love to write about, incredible things happening in our world. I love that juxtaposition and often wonder what I would do in a similar situation. I think this is the allure of disaster movies and series like Doctor Who.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have extensive experience of flying, and flown light aircraft and microlights. But also a formative experience was watching Neil Armstrong take those first steps on the moon. This led directly to my love of science, science fiction, and exploration. These are themes which abound in the Cloud Riders trilogy.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Once again for that initial push it would be Lord of the Rings, but also I quickly discovered character based stories like the books of Steinbeck. I have so many favourites, but maybe as a YA author a key influence was Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series. Those books are incredible works of the imagination and I adore them. I also have always loved the book of Iain Banks and particularly love his world building skills for his science fiction stories.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Martian…and yes this was after seeing the film, but also because many people who’s opinions I respect told me I should read it. The attention to scientific detail is wonderful and they are many many occasions I have LOL as I’ve been reading it.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Katherine Rundell with Roof Toppers. What a beautifully written book, that in some ways also reminded me of Night Circus (another favourite) and she’s also a fellow Oxford author.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
The secret new trilogy, with a very strong foundation of quantum physics running through it. I love epic story telling and I’m planning in total three linked trilogies with an over arching story thread running through all of them.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
SCWBI…The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This is an organisation where children’s authors cluster. They run wonderful conferences and have regional groups that constantly recharge my writer’s soul!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and a very important one. We need more writers, artists, poets, musicians, etc, to dream and wonder what if. There is not enough of this thinking in the world. Also, running many school workshops I get to directly work with and hopefully inspire students, and when that happens, it makes it all worth it. Writing is one of the best jobs in the world!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No! When I let books go they are fully formed and ready to set sail out into the world, although it always feels like one’s child leaving home to fend for itself!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The walls vibrated like they’d been turned to rubber. Great lumps of plaster hammered into the mattress above our heads. This was really happening.
I watched the Christmas stars we’d put up when dad hadn’t got back, come crashing down.
My goldfish bowl vibrated across my bedside table and before I could catch it, it toppled away and smashed onto the floor. Water rushed out in a wave across my slippers. My goldfish stared up at the chaos and flapped his way across the floor, too far away to reach.
But where was Dad?
A lorry-like roar echoed through the cottage and part of the roof collapsed in a shower of debris, and dust billowed into the room. The metal bed frame screeched, struck by a rafter collapsing through the roof and started to buckle under the weight. The bed pressed into my back before it shuddered to a stop.
Eve whispered a quiet prayer, her plastic sunflower earrings digging into my face. I hung onto her with white knuckles. My lungs started to burn with dust and I started to cough. She grabbed the bed spread and covered our faces with it.
I breathed through the suffocating fabric. We were going to die…
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Waiting for my characters to start to really talk to me rather than just going through the motions. When they do it’s a sure sign my story is coming to life.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Again this is a hard one to answer as they are so many. I think in a summary it’s the books that really touch my heart and deeply move me. But I have always loved writing that contains soaring imagination.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Yes. I recently did a research trip to Iceland for Breaking Storm, part of which is set in a parallel reality of that country (Hells Cauldron).
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The wonderful Jenny Rawlings. I’m a former art director myself but also knew that designing a great book covers demands very specific skills and I was lucky enough for Three Hares to bring Jenny onboard to produce the cover. Unusually as an author I did have input into it. It was quickly agreed that we all wanted a bold strong graphic style to the cover, something that would stand out on the shelf in a bookshop, and I think Jennie has done a styling job with all the books and has achieved exactly this.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Probably a specific sequence in Breaking Storm. I had planned this moment of heartbreak in the story right from the outset of the trilogy and knew it was approaching as I wrote towards it. But when I actually came to write it I wept. But as they say, tears in the writer, tears in the reader…and this is a very good thing because books should sometimes moves us that deeply.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That dreams can come true if you work hard enough and never ever give up!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Always believe and eventually everything, even the rejections will make sense. Tenacity is the word you should have pinned to your monitor and remind yourself of every single day.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
That I hope the Cloud Riders trilogy means as much to them as it does to me, that it has touched their heart and souls and taken them on an incredible journey.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Aesop’s Fables (children’s edition). Oh how I must have read that collection a hundred times.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Happy and sad endings…the moments where human life in all its joy and fragility is revealed, and I find tears rolling down my face. And I do love those moments!
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Nicole Tesla, an incredible scientist who should be so much better known than he is today. Our modern world owes this visionary of science so much.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“He dared to dream and live.” Because life isn’t a dress rehearsal. We have far too short a time on this spinning blue marble so have to make the most of it. And after many years I finally learnt the importance of following my dreams and became a full time author…and that was the best decision of my life!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Astronomy, cooking, travelling, art and design.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Oh my goodness, another huge question. All time favourite movie is Blade Runner as there is such a poignant beauty to that film, all enhanced by the haunting Vangelis sound track. Favourite all time series would probably be Breaking Bad!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
As I cook, and I cook a lot, I love many, many different cuisines. If I had to narrow it down it would be between Asian and South American (gumbos, etc) cooking. Colour, the blue of a clear sky so deep that it pulls on your soul. Music…where do I begin when I’m so eclectic? Maybe artists like Moby, dare I say Cold Play (yes I know, but they still write great music), Ben Howard, etc, etc.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Well I worked in computer games for over twenty years which included co-founding two award winning studios. But apart from that I wish I’d had a chance to work in the movies. Everyone who reads Cloud Riders says it would make the most amazing movie, so maybe it will happen yet!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes I do. You can find my authorial ramblings @: www.nick-cook.net
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Nick-Cook/e/B00K5S9R9M/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0