Name: Connie Cockrell
Where are you from: Originally from Gloversville, N.Y. just outside the Adirondacks of central N.Y. It’s a small town, really, and a wonderful place to grow up.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc : I’m the oldest of 6 children from a working class family. I decided when I was 9 that I was going to move away from home, go to college and have a wonderful, high paying career. Well, I did leave home at 18 but to join the US. Air Force. After that I did, after many years of part time classes, marrying, having a child, get my bachelor’s degree in business. After that, a Master’s in Information Systems Management just as I retired from the Air Force. After that was a 7 year stint in private industry then I “retired” at 48 to life my own dreams. It wasn’t until 2011 that I began writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I released my third book in my Brown Rain novelette series, Kindred Spirits in March 2016. They’re all supposed to be SciFi, Dystopian, YA novelettes but for some reason Kindred Spirits hit the novella range. Like every last book, I think it’s the best I’ve written.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My daughter told me about a friend of hers that was going to participate in something called National Novel Writing Month. This was the 2nd week of October, 2011. She said she was going to try it too. I asked about the details and she leant me a book by Larry Brooks called Story Engineering. I sped read through the book and got enough of a clue to start plotting out my story. It turns out I finished the challenge and every November one since, and the result was my very first book, Bad Seed. Up on Amazon and other retailers. I think this is the “hobby” that I’ve been searching for for decades. I’ve been writing strong ever since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
2012, when I finally put Bad Seed up on Amazon.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Aside from my daughter’s encouragement, the story had to do with the prevalence of genetically modified food in the current food distribution plan. I just wanted to explore the consequences of doing that.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My style is spare. I have to go back and rewrite after the 1st draft to add background, internal thoughts, scenery and other information that makes the story real to the reader.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It seemed like a no brainer, the seed is bad.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Just that science has to be considered from all angles. I’m a big science geek and I’ll admit that I tend to want to just accept every scientific advancement but that’s not always a good thing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
I did quite a bit of research on it, and I kind of list it within the book in a subtle way. Or maybe not so subtle. We have to keep an eye on those giant conglomerates.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not really. But, on the other hand, I have been diagnosed in my 40’s with Celiac. A niece was hit by juvenile diabetes at 12. One nephew is also now celiac. These are all auto immune diseases. Just the thing that genetically modified food could possibly cause.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Most influential books were Science Fiction. The genre is designed for looking at “what if” scenarios whether that’s genetic science, social integration or alien invasions.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m on Chuck Wendig’s book 2 of his Heartland Trilogy, Blightborn. I wanted to see how another author treated the same genetically modified food system I wrote about. I Love Love Love this series.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Chuck Wendig is one, of course. Kevin Hearne and his Iron Druid Series is a real winner.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m right in the middle of rewriting and editing a new YA series, Zoe Ohale. It’s set on a far planet in the future. I’m exploring what it means when people say we shouldn’t support people who are criminals or “degenerates” (think drug users, etc.) or their families. It’s not a pretty sight.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writing communities. I belong to several groups, two in person and several on-line. They’re great places to pick up tips, tricks, ideas and to just vent when things aren’t going my way.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do consider it a career. I spend hours a day on it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
LOL! I don’t know. It’s too new yet.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always been a writer. Little things, unfinished things. It was that National Novel Writing Month challenge that finally lit the fire.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a bit from Zoe Ohale.
Zoe Ohale locked the closet she called home and left the house. The landlady was okay, but Zoe didn’t trust anyone. She didn’t have enough things to let anyone steal them. What she did have she needed or had sentimental value. It was spring so she’d gently washed and dried and put away the crocheted hat her mother had made for her when she was eight. A pang of grief speared her in the heart. He mother had died six years ago, of a broken heart. That brought up the memory of the Lees at the door reporting that her father had died in prison, in a prisoner fight, when she was ten. Her mother had just collapsed and never recovered. First it was alcohol, then drugs. Zoe ground her teeth together. After that, she was on the street. The Government didn’t support kids who came from criminals and drug users.
She pushed the anger down, sniffed back the tears and held her head up. She wasn’t going to let those memories take away this beautiful spring day. The trees had filled out their leaves but they weren’t full grown yet. They were still that soft, new green that made everything seem fresh and new. Even in the poor part of town, pron-flower vines grew everywhere and made the neighborhood seem nicer than it was. The eight-petalled flowers were a blue the same color as the sky at the horizon, her mother had pointed out when Zoe was seven. To her, it seemed as though the sky had dripped down onto the earth. Many people planted white, yellow or even orange flowers with the pron. Daffodils, which came in all of those shades, and brought with the original colonists, were the most used. She loved that you could dig up the bulbs and plant them in a new spot and in a few years, have a large patch of flowers for nothing.
Zoe walked the mile and a half to the park enjoying the sunshine and the flowers. She sat on a particular bench and waited. Kids ran riotous across the lawns, playing tag, flying kites, nearly knocking over the old people walking in relative slow motion compared to the kids. Across the flower beds in front of her, she watched as a teen boy lightly bumped a well-to-do looking older man walking with someone that appeared to be his wife. He nodded an apology and strode off in the opposite direction. Zoe saw him stop at a trash can and check the man’s wallet, pocketing a few things and dumping the rest in the can. She grinned at the scene. Picking pockets wasn’t something she’d learned. Trading or selling goods was more her style.
She looked up to her right. “Officer Fletcher Gren, glad you could make it.”
He sat on the bench beside her. She was glad to see he’d come in civilian clothing. There was no way she wanted her gang of orphans to know she was working with the Lee’s. “I just watched a kid pick the pocket of some old guy and make off with a few things.”
“What?” He sat up and looked around the park.
“Keep your pants on. It’s all over and the kid is long gone.”
“But…,” Gren sighed and sat back. “I’m not here for that, am I?”
Zoe watched his face. Conflicting emotions ran across it, a scowl, then a sigh, resignation, and acceptance.
“I’m glad you came. We have the younger orphans being assigned to foster homes. Good ones, not the horror stories you’ve heard about. Time for you to keep your side of the bargain.”
She nodded. Over the winter, she’d been caught selling goods without a license. Instead of jail, Gren had offered her a chance at a better life. She’d come across a kidnapping and in return for her telling him who was involved, she’d made him promise to help the younger orphans who were living on the street to find homes. She’d promised to think about becoming a Universal Law Enforcement officer or part of the military. Zoe was still thinking about it but in the meantime, she’d agreed to help him out with information on the criminal element in town.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing in the details. The nuances, internal conflicts, all of that. I really have to think about it.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Aside from Chuck Wendig and Kevin Hearne, my base favs are C.J. Cherryh, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov and so on. These are the authors I’ve read since I was 13 and they are how I see science fiction.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I haven’t so far. One travel was particularly interesting. I wrote a western short story and put my hero’s home town as Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I went to the web and looked up Santa Rosa. I never uncovered that the Santa Rosa river is about 2 feet wide or that there’s a natural spring called the Big Blue Hole (you can google that) in the town that pumps out thousands of gallons of water a minute. It doesn’t matter to the story so far but it’s funny what you can learn on site that you have a hard time finding on line.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Most of my covers I design myself. A few have been done by other people.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest book to write was my cozy mystery, Mystery in the Woods. Dang, that took me months to write. Nothing seemed to click for me.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
To keep pressing on. I’m stubborn. I want to finish every book I start.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. It’s not easy to think about every aspect of the world you’re building. If you can do it in a month, great. If it takes a year or more, take the time. You want this to be the best thing you can do at that time. Don’t however niggle it to death. Get it done and send it out into the world. Then work on the next one.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you!!!!!!! I can’t say that enough. I’d write the stories anyway, they’re bubbling up out of me. But how awesome if someone else reads and enjoys them.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really. I’ve been a reader since they taught me in 1st grade. Those were the Dick and Jane stories by the way.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
That depends. Sometimes weird stuff, the death of pets, babies who are puzzled by the great big wide world.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
So many people. It’s hard to say. At the moment it might be Grace Hopper. How she got into computers and the Navy. What it was like for her.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I hike. I think it’s important to get out into the daylight and walk through nature. I get exercise, I get to explore the countryside around me, and I get to destress. How lovely.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a drama lover. Walking Dead, Deadwood, all the dark stuff.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: Pasta though it has to be gluten free now. Colors: Green and Blue. Music: 70’s/80’s.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I come into writing late in life. What else? A traveller, writing about all of the wonderful places on earth.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Connie Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville, NY. She now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing bunko. Connie Cockrell began writing in response to a challenge from her daughter in October 2011 and has been hooked ever since. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre. She’s published fourteen books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on EveryDayStories.com. Connie’s always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you may be the next one.