Name Norma Cook
Where are you from St. John’s, NL
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.
I went to Memorial University for 2 years in a pre-med program, hated it and left to go work at CIBC. I stayed 8 years and left to be a stay-at-home mom to my daughter. I went to work in accounting in 2004 with our own company, working from home.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just received great reviews on The Lion’s Den from Blue Ink Reviews and Forward Clarion Reviews. I am also listed in the January 16th edition of Publishers Weekly.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Two years ago, I was providing elder care for my mother-in-law and was bored, so I began to write for my own entertainment.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got affirmation from Front Rowe Seat, an Indie Publishing Support Company, that the book was viable.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The hunt for Osama bin Laden
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
As the genre I write in is contemporary romance/political thriller, I try to use what I call “common speech”. Some of the sentences would be considered grammatically incorrect by traditional standards, as I employ sentence fragments sometimes to make the dialogue sound real and “modern day.” I want readers to learn something about the culture of the characters I am writing about, so I have included descriptions of people and places, and have written some dialogue in foreign language, which is easily translated through notes within the text. My goal is to educate as well as to entertain.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
There is an old Afghani story about a Sheik who travels from village to village with his pet lion. He demands that at each village he visits, that a cow be supplied for the lion’s meal. One day, a stray dog which usually sits outside the Sheik’s home, follows him on his travels. When the cow is brought out for the lion’s dinner, the old dog jumps on the lion’s back and rips out its throat. The culmination of my story results in the main character, Della, being forced to confront Osama bin Laden in his place of hiding, in Mallorca, Spain. As he is known as “The Lion Sheik”, I felt that the title encompasses the idea of her having to walk into “The Lion’s Den” and bring about his demise.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want to get across the idea that governments often mislead the public in what they report, because they have secret agendas or because they want their image to remain untarnished.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The events in the book are based in the real life happenings leading up to the capture and killing of bin Laden, based on official reports. Many of the political characters mentioned are, in fact, real people and have an impact on the fictional events I wrote.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The book and movie Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicled the events leading up to the capture and killing of bin Laden was instrumental in my thinking that all of this story has not been told, and inspired me to write what I thought might be an alternative series of events. I have been influenced by many Romance authors, including Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown and Danielle Steele, who are masters in character development and bringing relationships and human situations to life. My interest in romance has always been in the unraveling of the story and the building of the relationship. I like big reveals and plot twists and turns. I love the unexpected in a story.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I sample books from many new and established authors in my genre. I loved all of Sandra Brown’s earlier works, although they are very dated, now, as I have recently discovered while re-reading them. They are great portraits of strong women, dealing with some challenging pasts and presents. Her descriptions are great, and her plots are not easily predictable. Her recent work is all based in mystery, and I am not as big a fan. I prefer characters, who are easily relatable, and everyday circumstances, not necessarily dramatic tales of murder and mayhem.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Front Rowe Seat Publishing, and my mentor there, Karen Rowe.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see it as my retirement plan, lol.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I am presently writing the sequel to The Lion’s Den, entitled Behind the Firewall and I need to make the reveals bigger to facilitate moving the plot forward. I do not like predictable plots!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I loved creative writing in school, and actually looked forward to the essay writing examinations in literature class! I credit my Grade 5 teacher for encouraging me by reading my work to my class. It made me feel like I had talent.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My first book, The Lion’s Den dealt with the capture and killing of bin Laden. The second book, which is its sequel, deals with Ryan, the brother of the main character’s boyfriend, who is special ops with the CIA. His job, in the first book, was to infiltrate Osama bin Laden’s communications network to locate his hiding place, following the failed first attempt to capture and kill him. In doing so, he encountered an ingenious and impenetrable system of protection surrounding his network and he was unsuccessful in breaking into it, and had to resort to using “alternative methods” of interrogating captured witnesses to gain his objective. Ryan stays on in Mallorca, following the resolution of the first book to further investigate the terrorist network in order to put a stop to money laundering and gain knowledge of the terrorist s activities. The book’s title is Behind the Firewall. It has an amazing cast of characters, including the granddaughter of the King of Spain, plus incredible venues, including the nightclubs, casinos, beaches, and old-world Spanish landmarks of the island of Mallorca.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the time to write, while juggling my fulltime job as bookkeeper for my husband’s company, plus my family responsibilities, plus managing the marketing of the first book, causes me much stress. I very much feel the pressure of being part of the “sandwich generation”.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at the present time. I do not have a traditional publishing company behind me to arrange book signing tours. I don’t have as much time as I would like, right now, to do what is required to set that up.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover of The Lion’s Den was conceived by my daughter and myself, and was produced by a graphic artist named Gerry Garcia, who resides in Florida. When I re-published with iUniverse, their graphics department re-created the cover as closely as possible to the original design.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Making the plot exciting and unpredictable, and doing the research to make the reader feel like they are actually transported to the places where the story takes place. In Behind the Firewall, I have done extensive research into the island of Mallorca, and a reader would be able to recognize the island from the locations I have incorporated into the story.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh my gosh, yes! I have gained an education and insight into the struggles the people of the Middle East have suffered historically, and into modern times. Through researching language, culture, and current affairs news stories, I have been able to get a broader perspective of the problems of the area and a better understanding of the evolution of terrorism. (I also learned how to play Texas Hold ‘em and how to bet to win in several Casino games!)
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead.
I would recommend Natalie Portman as the main character, Della. She is an awesome actress, and can portray the depth of character I have tried to imbue into Della’s character.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t quit! I write a lot in my head prior to committing it to digital/screen. That helps me cut down on re-writing. Have a clear picture of where you want your story to go, and try to stay on the path. Don’t be afraid to edit! Be brutal! Ask, “Does this really contribute to the story, does it move the plot along?”
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Take a chance on new writers. It is so difficult to achieve any kind of visibility in the self-publishing marketplace. It takes a massive amount of time to self-promote. Please don’t be afraid to review books. It is so important that other readers and even potential traditional publishers get an idea of how the book is being received.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading an excellent contemporary romance, The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan. It has the most engaging characters I have met in a long time!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. Perhaps it was Dick and Jane in kindergarten. There were so many books I enjoyed, like the Nancy Drew Mystery series! The library was my second home as a kid.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Pets, babies, spending time with family and friends/ Terrorism, racial disrespect, cruelty
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
John Lennon, J F Kennedy, or Ghandi. Love to hear their answers to what is required in modern times to achieve world peace.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“I told you I was sick, you bastards!” Lol! No seriously, probably “Love, gratitude, respect.” My mantra.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I can draw and paint.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like reality TV competition shows like The Voice, X Factor, etc. even though I know the singers are auto-tuned and the results are skewed for ratings and marketability. I still love watching people strive to make their dreams come true. I also love Masterchef, and travel documentaries. Movies: I loved Arrival, loved The Harry Potter Series, just to marvel at the world J K Rollings created! And sappy romance stories like Pretty Woman.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite food: Sushi. My husband and I have a standing Sushi date every Thursday night. Colours: Red, Fuchsia, Turquoise, Bottle Green. Not much into music, although I have a soft spot for Adele, Aerosmith, and classic rock.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Teach, but not grade school. I would like to teach people who are interested in learning.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Indeed I do. www.Authornormacook.com. I also have an author page on Facebook, Author Norma Cook.