Interview with Ian Cook
I love artists, authors, and creative people, especially if they’re redheads as well! That leads to my next interview -- I found out about author Ian Cook (also a redhead) when he contacted me regarding his newly published supernatural sci-fi book "Redhead."
I decided to find out more about the project and the author -- and pass it on to my readers!
Well, due to Ian's profession, he had traveled the globe and became intrigued by the many myths and legends about redheads. Those facts, in addition to inspiration from another famous author, led him to write his book. This sci-fi thriller weaves worldwide folklore about red hair and ancient history, beginning in 1920s and moves forward to the present where incidences of murder and kidnapping are reported. There’s even a flame-haired journalist, Rebecca, as a lead character in the story as she investigates macabre events directed at redheads worldwide. Inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the cliffhanger is said to appeal to fans of supernatural science fiction as well as to redheads and their admirers.
If that’s you and/or want to know more about the book or even becoming an author, then read on. Again, thanks to Ian for taking time from his schedule to do the interview! So, grab a beverage, have a seat in your favorite chair, and onto the questions....
1) Hello Ian and thanks for agreeing to the interview. Please tell us a little bit about your family and where you currently live.
My wife, Maggie, and I live close to the River Thames in the West London village of Chiswick. It has always been the home of actors, artists, musicians and writers, which creates a lively, creative environment. Our grown-up son and daughter live nearby. The whole family shares a love of travel, and between us we have lived and worked in India, Switzerland, Ecuador, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, Azerbaijan and the US.
2) I had read that, although you grew up in the U.K., you’ve done some traveling worldwide. What was one of your favorite countries that you visited and why?
As an agricultural scientist, I worked in rural South India. Though demanding, it was a magical mind-expanding experience where anything could happen and often did. We met princes, paupers, rogues, holy men, Bollywood stars, missionaries (one of whom became Scotland's 'Woman of the Year') and even a man who invited us to afternoon tea and turned out to be a mass-murderer. We stayed with a state governor, broadcast on Radio India, drove a steam engine (a bribe of two rupees sufficed), got attacked by monkeys, were robbed, visited Everest base camp with a film crew and caught Denque Fever (nasty). A day in India was equivalent to a month in London.
3) When did you begin writing? And who has been your biggest supporter?
I began writing fiction in earnest 12 years ago, having previously been limited to scientific papers and reports. My wife has been my main supporter. With her background of London Fleet Street journalism, she has advised, critiqued (sometimes in harsh terms), copyedited, encouraged and generally whipped my writing into shape.
4) So where did the inspiration come from to write your thriller 'Redhead' and why this particular genre of sci-fi/supernatural?
'Red hair' has long been an obsession of mine. It was sparked initially by the theories of the explorer Thor Heyerdahl, whereby the redhead race spread out around the world, probably from around the Caspian Sea and primarily by water. Everywhere I traveled, I asked about redhead myths and legends and confirmed that they seem to occur worldwide. Whether desired, envied, pitied, ridiculed, even persecuted, it seems redheads have always been seen as 'special' and certainly never ignored.
For six years we lived in the shadow of the Villa Diodati, just outside Geneva in Switzerland, where in 1816 Mary Shelley conceived the idea of 'Frankenstein'. It was Shelley and her vision which played on my mind and eventually inspired me to use my amassed red hair knowledge and scientific background to write a novel in which redheads develop unique powers as a result of a cosmic event (which is very much on the cards).
5) Like your book's main character (flame-haired journalist Rebecca Burns), you are a redhead yourself. Are you the only redhead in your family or was your red hair a big surprise for your parents?
Although I am the only redhead in my immediate family, it did not come as a surprise to my parents. My mother was one of 11 siblings, several of whom were redheads.
6) Like so many redheads, teasing is a big issue and common topic of discussion for visitors on my site. Were you teased or bullied growing up or as an adult because of your red hair, and if so how did it affect your self-esteem?
When I was a boy, teasing for having red hair was never a real issue. I was occasionally called 'Ginge' and I had friends called 'Ginger' and 'Rusty'. But they were merely nicknames, like 'Ginger' Rogers and 'Ginger' Baker (the drummer with 'Cream'), and no offence was intended nor taken. 'Gingerism' seems to be a modern phenomenon, in my opinion a result of displaced racism. In other words, it is relatively safe to pick on gingers.
7) Do you have any advice for those redheads and/or family members with redheads who are dealing with this type of teasing?
Ignore it. Ask yourself, 'why are so many women dying their hair red and why is Rupert Grint so widely admired?' Celebrate being the real thing.
8) What’s the WORST thing about being a redhead? And, what’s the BEST thing about being a redhead?
For me, the worst thing about being a redhead was sunbathing. Nothing was worse than getting burnt, watching the freckles develop and then hoping they would join up to form a tan. For me they never did, and now I prefer to stay 'pale and mysterious', which is good advice for any redhead.
The best thing about being a redhead is being able to 'strut your stuff' and join in the present red hair 'celebrations' whilst the spotlight is on us. No doubt it will eventually shift to some other physical characteristic.
9) Do you have any advice for budding writers who might be reading this? ...Something to help them get started...
If you want to write a book, my advice is 'just do it', and then join the school of hard-knocks to improve your writing. In my opinion, that is the best way to ensure your own voice will come through and not be suffocated by current trends. Anyway, life is too short for things like going on creative writing courses before you start writing, and indeed someone else may already have 'your' idea in mind. However, it is vital that when you eventually publish, you publish the best of which you are capable (the final version of 'Redhead' is the result of nine rewrites).
Write your book or poetry first, then join a group for would-be authors to get as much advice and feedback as possible. Personally, I joined the HarperCollins Authonomy site and received tremendous feedback from over 400 other writers, whilst trying to give the same back in return. Readers are, after all, your market and their opinions are crucial. It cost me nothing and in the process I made stacks of new friends. I even met a cover designer who I think did a great job with 'Redhead'. Next, I approached writers, friends and family and asked if they would read the complete revised manuscript.
Over 20 people showed incredible generosity in agreeing and were issued with instructions to be totally honest as to how the manuscript could be further improved. Bruised and battered (my wife was especially brutal), I went through several more rewrites. If you do join a creative writing group, do it after you have completed your first draft and use what you learn in the group to polish your work. At present you can even publish an e-book for free, although it will have to be very good to sell. So seize the day.
10) What’s next for you and your writing career? Any sequels to the book planned or other projects?
I now have enough material and ideas for a 'Redhead World' trilogy. Just one more cup of tea and I'll press on with it...
Best wishes, Ian ---- THE END ----
Again, thanks to Ian for joining us and sharing a few of his fascinating life experiences! I was admittedly intrigued by the situations he found himself in, people he met, unique discoveries, and finding inspiration to write thanks to a career that enabled traveling the globe (and I admit I'm a bit in awe as someone who has traveled but not always easily!). I especially appreciated the excellent insight and advice given regarding pursuing a writing career -- best given by someone who’s "been there, done that" and has done the hard work of learning how to improve their craft of writing. Wishing the best of success to Ian with the book and future projects!
IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT MORE about Ian and/or purchase his book:
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Ian Cook and/or his book. I'd be happy to post your comments below, if appropriate!
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