Bestselling author Claire Cook (Must Love Dogs, Life’s A Beach, and the rest in Bibliography) is celebrating the publication of her seventh book, Seven Year Switch — selected by US TODAY and The New York Times as their Top Summer Book Picks.
Publishers Weekly might have had the initial endorsement when beginning its review of the novel with, “Roll out your beach blanket for this sweet summer read about making mistakes and moving on.” The Divining Wand has scheduled a full presentation/review of Seven Year Switch for Monday, July 26, 2010. But, until then, let’s meet this “late starter” novelist by reading a shortened version of “official” bio:
Raised on Nancy Drew mysteries, Claire Cook has wanted to write ever since she was a little girl. She majored in theater and creative writing at Syracuse University and immersed herself in a number of artistic endeavors (copywriter, radio continuity director, garden designer, and dance and aerobics choreographer), yet somehow her dreams got pushed to the side for more real-life matters — like marriage, motherhood, and a teaching career. Decades passed, then one day she found herself parked in her minivan at 5 AM, waiting for her daughter to finish swim practice. She was struck with a now-or-never impulse and began writing on the spot. By the end of the season, she had a first draft. Her first novel, Ready to Fall, was published in 2000, when Cook was 45.
Since then, this “late starter” has more than made up for lost time. She struck gold with her second book, Must Love Dogs. Published in 2002, this story of a middle-aged divorcee whose singles ad produces hilariously unexpected results was declared “funny and pitch-perfect” by the Chicago Tribune and “a hoot” by the Boston Globe. (The novel got a second life in 2005 with the release of the feature film starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.) Cook’s subsequent novels, with their wry, witty take on the lives of middle-aged women, have become bestsellers and book club favorites.
Upbeat, gregarious, and grateful for her success, Cook is an inspiration for aspiring writers and women in midlife transition. She tours indefatigably for her novels and genuinely enjoys speaking with fans. She also conducts frequent writing workshops, where she dispenses advice and encouragement in equal measure. “I’m extraordinarily lucky to spend my time doing what I love,” she has said on countless occasions. ” The workshops are a way to say thank you and open doors that I stumbled through to make it easier for writers coming up behind me.”
In fact Claire has spent this month book touring across the country (with only one event remaining on July 8th in Chatham, Massachusetts) but before she left to meet and greet fans, the author revealed:
How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Finally living my dream and totally loving it.
What is your motto or maxim?
A. Karma is a boomerang – probably the truest thing one of my characters has ever said.
How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Perfectly fleeting.
What’s your greatest fear?
A. That I’m still a bartender and I can’t remember where this drink should go. Oh, wait, that’s the recurring nightmare.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Exactly where I am.
With whom in history do you most identify?
A. P.T. Barnum. I’m a direct descendant, and btw, he did not say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” He said, “There’s a customer born every minute.” I have updated that to, “There’s a reader born every minute.”
Which living person do you most admire?
A. It’s a three-way tie between my husband and two kids. Aww.
What are your most overused words or phrases
A. My literary agent recently told me it was Aww. I think she actually called it a verbal tic. That’s the kind of agent you want to have.
If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. I’d love to be a songwriter. I used to teach the Aerosmith kids, and right around the time my first novel came out, I had this great conversation with Steven Tyler. He wanted to know how I could write a whole novel, and I said that if I could say it in a song, I wouldn’t have to.
What is your greatest achievement?
A. Helping my two kids grow into people I both admire and want to hang out with.
What’s your greatest flaw?
A. I can’t do anything halfway.
What’s your best quality?
A. I can’t do anything halfway. And if that’s cheating, I would say kindness.
What do you regret most?
A. Who has time?
If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. For me, the gift of midlife is that I’m finally being exactly who I really am. There’s great power in that.
What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. People always say my laugh. They also often tell me I laugh just like one of my characters, which I think is interesting.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Nancy Drew.
Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. I always skip the scary pages.
If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. If I really wanted to meet an athlete, I’d just find a way. I’d rather go to the gym and get a workout.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Mean people.
What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Walking the beach.
What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Being a novelist. It’s the career I almost didn’t have, and seven books in, it still feels like a fantasy.
What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Humor, honesty, kindness.
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Trader Joe’s organic popcorn with olive oil.
What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. I never play favorites. I just can’t. I’d feel too sorry for the songs I didn’t pick.
What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. The ones I haven’t written yet.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Robin Antalek’s The Summer We Fell Apart in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Robin Antalek and The Summer We Fell Apart. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.