Entertainment Weekly calls it a "creepy, satisfying thriller."
It's a well-written young readers novel, but adults would enjoy this page turner as well.
I want to introduce you to the author behind the book, Eileen Cook. I've met Eileen a few times and I definitely saw a little of her personality through the pages. She is upbeat, down to earth and funny.
Here is what Eileen shared with me about her work schedule, hobbies and her favourite accessories.
Charlene: If I remember, you work full-time as well as write. When do you find the time to write? And where do you write?
Eileen: I am excited to say that I am now writing full time in addition to doing some teaching and freelance editing. I have as of this January given up my job as a counsellor. This is pretty much a dream come true for a writer, but I do warn people that it took me a long time, and ten novels to be in that position. I worked full time for the first four of my novels, then went to part time until eventually this year I made the leap.
Writing while working was a challenge. There are so many demands on our time that often when we do have a bit of breathing space it feels like the only thing we can manage to do is stare at Netflix or take a nap. What I did discover is that what works for one person- may not work for another. I remember hearing the advice that I should set my alarm an hour early and write before starting my work day. I tried. I really did. However, there is nothing happening in my brain at 5am. I can barely remember my own name at that hour let alone a characters. For me it was easier to write in the evenings- even if it was only for thirty minutes or an hour. I set tiny word count goals for myself (500 words) that I could achieve without getting discouraged. The truth is that all books getting written one word at a time. If you keep making progress- even if it is slower than you would like- you will get to the finish line. If you never start- you never will.
Charlene: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Eileen: It’s probably not too surprising that one of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is to read. I am pretty sure someday I will be killed when one of the million stacks of books I have in the house falls over and crushes me.
I’m also a big knitter, I always loved crafty things so when I found one I could do while watching movies or listening to audio books I was hooked. If you are friends with me at some point you’ll end up with a scarf or socks. I enjoy the process of making something that I can see grow. Often with writing you can work for a long time, but not make a lot of progress. When I knit I always have something to show for it.
Lastly, I love spending time with friends. I enjoy throwing dinner parties and I often have huge board game nights where we play until the wee hours.
Charlene: You have an eye for accessories. What’s your favourite thing to shop for? Why?
I have a thing for shoes, handbags and office supplies. I can’t help myself- or more truthfully- I don’t want to stop. For me shoes and handbags are a great way to show a bit of personality. If I have on a great pair of shoes I just feel more zippy. (And I say this as someone who spends the bulk of her time wearing yoga pants with my hair in a ponytail while making stuff up.) There are times when I might be nervous (before speaking for example) and I find if I am wearing something that makes me happy- it almost fools my brain into thinking it is confident.
I have no idea where my passion for office supplies comes from- but I have convinced myself that I am only a pack of Post-it Notes, index cards, folder, or new pen, away from organizing my entire writing life and then creating the Great Canadian Novel. Staples is like a candy store as far as I’m concerned.
Charlene: Can you tell us about your newest book, With Malice? How does it compare with your other works?
Eileen: With Malice is about Jill who while on a school trip in Italy is in a horrible car accident. She wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the accident or the six weeks before. Jill is devastated to hear that her best friend Simone died in the accident and horrified that the police don’t believe it was an accident- instead they’re tying to prove Jill murdered her friend. Jill has to fill in the missing time while trying to decipher if other people’s stories of what happened are accurate before she’s forced back to Italy and a trial. She’s forced to question her friendship and more importantly what she’s capable of doing.
WITH MALICE tackles issues of identity. I have been fascinated for a long time on the issue of what makes people choose different paths and how we view ourselves, versus how other view us. Jill, the main character in this story, struggles because she can’t recall the past six weeks. She’s trying to figure out what happened, and come to terms with what people say she did before time runs out- all while dealing with the grief of the loss of her best friend.
This book is a bit different from my others in that I wanted to raise questions for the reader that hopefully leaves them with a lot to discuss when the book is done. It is certainly the most complex book I’ve ever written. I had stacks of color-coded index cards, timelines and highlighted pages as I tried to figure out how it would all fit together.