Hi! To start off, please tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you write.
Hello! I'm Carmen Cook and write small town contemporary romance with just a hint of danger. I've been calling it suspense light lately when I meet readers at various events. Stuff happens, but it's not dark or overly suspenseful. I'm originally from Montana, so when I sat down to write it felt very natural to create Sapphire Creek based loosely on the area I grew up.
How did you become an author? Please share a bit of your journey with us.
I started writing at the suggestion of my husband, actually. I've always loved to read, but when our youngest was born I rediscovered romance novels and started reading while I would feed him. I loved being able to fall into the story and connect with the characters effortlessly during the little bits of time I had to read. Over the years I would make up little stories about secondary characters who had intrigued me. Later, when authors started writing series and that characters book would come out, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed because, inevitably, the author had a much different vision for their characters than I had. (Who'd have thought, right? LOL) But, my husband heard my frustrations, as misplaced as they might be, and gifted me with a membership to RWA for my birthday, encouraging me to write a book myself. As you can imagine, I had SO MUCH to learn but that gift and support is what started me on this journey.
What are you working on now? Do you have a recent or upcoming release?
I'm currently working on the next Sapphire Creek book, which is up for pre-order and will release in March 2020. I'm also basically re-writing the first book I ever wrote. On a whim I decided to pitch that story to an agent who finds stories for film and she'd like to see it. So, that's exciting, but man, does that manuscript need some work. Ha!
What is the most challenging part of writing romance?
I think the most challenging part of writing genre fiction is making it look effortless. The books need to be engaging and fun, fast paced, with kick ass characters and a good story. All of those elements, which are admittedly things that make people turn their nose up at romance and call it "fluff" or worse. But it's hard work making it look easy.
What kind of research do you do when you set out to write a new book?
It depends on what the book needs. I typically do a bit of research on each of the main characters jobs at the very least. If there are some procedural items that come up in the plot, I research that as well.
Please share one piece of advice to aspiring authors - what do you wish someone would have told you? Or, what did someone tell you that you’d like to pass on to others?
Don't compare yourself to everyone else. People will offer advice and share their process, which is great and can sometimes be very helpful, but don't try to change your style/process/voice in order to try to fit in with what anyone else is telling you. Take the well-meaning advice, see if it will work for you, and if it doesn't, toss it out. There are so many of us and we each have our own way of doing things, it would be very easy to derail your own progress by trying to do everything someone says you "should" do.
What do you love the most about the month of December?
December can be such a challenging month for so many people. My husband works for a shipping company, so years ago we stripped down a lot of the hustle that comes with the month. He works a lot, so it's important that we keep things as simple as possible and focus on the things that matter most to us. That's the time we have together as a family, the memories we create (whether it's baking cookies with the boys or just enjoying one another's company while I write and my kids work on their homework), and finding joy in the little things. We should do all of those things the rest of the year too, but it always happens in December for us. BUT, on a less mushy note, I really love Xmas lights. They're so pretty! :-)
Any last words before we go into the speed round?
I'd love to hear about what everyone is reading. I just finished the latest Jayne Frost novel by Kristen Painter, which is completely different from what I write and so much fun!
City, suburb, or small-town?
Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate?
Alpha, beta, or both?
Vampire, werewolf, demon or angel?
Wine, whiskey or punch?
Whiskey...no, wine...No, Whiskey.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, or other?
Boxers, briefs, or commando?
Cowboy boots, biker boots, or flip-flops?
For a guy or girl? Because my answer would change. But I'm going to say barefoot.
Leather, lace, or silk?
Cake, cookies, or crumpets?
Top, bottom, or against the wall?
All of the above.
Biceps, abs, or buns?
Biceps. I have a huge thing for a good bicep.
Cats, dogs, or exotics?
Coming In Hot
She’s at a crossroads.
Regan Sinclair swore nothing would ever bring her back to Sapphire Creek. But a failed marriage and unemployment are strong motivators. It’s time to brave the demons she left in her past. Alone.
He thought she was through with him.
Gavin McCabe rarely thinks of Regan, or the one incredible night they spent together. Not since she walked out of his life without a backwards glance. But when she walks back into his life, he sees the opportunity for answers. And maybe a second chance.
Neither see love coming…and it’s coming in hot.
An overwhelming attraction flares to life every time the two of them are near each other, but their heat is quickly overshadowed. Their tight knit community is facing an unknown threat and Regan seems to be in the middle of it. Can she find solid ground with Gavin before this unknown menace crushes their burgeoning relationship?
More About Carmen
Carmen Cook fell in love with reading when her parents told her she could stay up thirty minutes past bedtime if she was reading. From then on she’s been sleep deprived with a book nearby. When her imagination started warring with the words on the page, she joined her local RWA chapter and started writing herself. When not behind a keyboard, Carmen chases her sons and husband around the football and soccer fields while trying to avoid the Pacific Northwest rain. She loves connecting with other authors and readers.