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Monday, November 26, 2012

Learn to Spot a Long-Con With GCC Member Eileen Cook

Some teenage girls work at the mall to earn extra cash, others learn to run a con. But if you choose the latter, make sure you don’t fall for your own lies. At least, that’s the case in GCC member Eileen Cook’s new YA novel, THE ALMOST TRUTH. It sounds like a great read and is out this month through Simon Pulse.

As always, here’s a little bit about her books to get you hooked:

From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose....

Here’s what Eileen had to say:

Q: In ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, Mariana is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. How many times have you been a bridesmaid and what's the worst dress you ever wore?

Eileen: I am one of those people who other people like to have in their wedding. I think this is because I can be counted on to have a safety pin or other emergency item in my purse and can usually make someone laugh. I’ve been a bridesmaid over a dozen times. I wore one dress that was a super bright shade of green. I looked like the Jolly Green Giant’s girlfriend.

Q: I've used some of my personal background in each of my novels. Did you take any snippets from your real life when writing your latest book? Base any characters on real people?

Eileen: I don’t have any characters that are based on real people (including myself), but I steal shamelessly from overheard conversations. There are also a lot of traits, such as Brendan’s snarky sense of humor that I take from friends and family.

Q: Let's talk publishing. What was harder for you, finding an agent or an editor? Why?

Eileen: Is there any part of publishing that’s easy? I did a lot of research into agents and had a bit of luck too, so connecting with my agent, Rachel Coyne, wasn’t too difficult. She did a great job selling the book, but it felt like it took forever.

Q: Where did the idea for you latest novel come from?

Eileen: Most often book ideas come to me as a collection of unrelated things. A bit of an idea here, another piece there, until it sticks together as one idea. This process can take months or years. This is one of the few books where I can remember the exact second I had the idea. I was on the ferry and saw a missing child poster. At the bottom there was an age-enhanced photo so you could see what the person might look like now. I had the thought "How weird would it be if I looked like the age enhanced photo?" In that instant the idea of the book dropped into my head. I ran back to my seat and wrote it down as fast as I could. I spent another week thinking over some different details, but I started writing almost right away.

Q: Where were you when you found out that your latest novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Eileen: I was driving to meet a group of fellow authors who live in Vancouver. My agent called and told me she had news and that I should pull over. As soon as I parked she told me that my editor was making a two-book offer deal. It was perfect because I was able to go into the restaurant and celebrate.

Thank you, Eileen! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fifty Shades of An American Psycho

Not long ago, Bret Easton Ellis, the author of AMERICAN PSYCHO, had publicly stated his desire to write the screen adaptation of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. As someone who just recently finished reading all three FIFTY novels (oh, yes, I read all three of them) can I say that Ellis would have been a perfect choice. Seriously, I can’t be the only woman who read these books and kept wondering when Christian Grey was going to hack Ana to pieces while listening to Huey Lewis?


I even repeatedly told my husband that if this book were told from Christian’s point of view, it would read like AMERICAN PSYCHO. I guess Ellis thought the same thing. Too bad it went to someone else, because he could have done great things with this archetype. Though it may have come across a little darker than a shade of grey, considering the book is about a man who asks a recent college grad to sign a legal document giving him total control over her life and allowing him to beat the crap out of her any time he wants for his own sadistic sexual pleasure.

I’m not joking. That’s the entire plot of the first book.

SPOILER ALERT—I’m gonna delve into plot points here.

Now, I’m not a prude. I knew these books were about a dominant-submissive sexual relationship. But the way the country, and women in particular, reacted to them, I expected more silk blindfolds and strawberries, a la NINE 1/2 WEEKS, than a sweeps episode of CRIMINAL MINDS.

It’s one thing to fantasize about a guy who’s confident and takes control, it quite another to dream of a man who wants to “punish” you with canes, whips and belts in his “red room of pain” for anything he perceives a disobedience. In one scene, he beats Ana just for rolling her eyes. You could practically hear the “dun dun” of LAW & ORDER as the SVU detectives arrived at Christian’s apartment to find Ana’s lifeless body chained to a cross in his “playroom.”

And don’t get me started on the plagiarism. For those who don’t know, FIFTY SHADES started at TWILIGHT fan fiction. You can read all about it here. Personally, I think fanfic is a great creative outlet for aspiring writers and enthusiastic fans, and I completely support it as a hobby. However, as an author, I find it very disturbing for someone to profit from of another author’s characters, plot, and prose. As has been reported by many, Ana and Christian are mirror images of Bella and Edward. The books even have a Jacob, Alice, Victoria and James. Bella’s parents are just like Ana’s parents, Edward’s siblings are adopted just like Christian’s. In fact, I don’t think there’s an original character in the book, aside from Christian's maid and security guard.

Plus, as a woman, I couldn’t help but notice that TWILIGHT isn’t the only source material E.L. James borrowed from. There are the lines almost directly quoted from PRETTY WOMAN. Like when Ana wakes up in Christian’s hotel room and he says, “I didn’t know what you liked, so I ordered a selection from the breakfast menu.” And then there’s dining room table full of food. Or the time when Ana asks, “Do people always do what you tell them?” And then they have sex on a grand piano.

The list goes on and on. So I’m curious how the movie adaption will be (and disappointed Ellis won't be penning the script). And maybe some day we’ll see a FUNNY OR DIE version of the awesome parody Fanny Merkin (a.k.a. Andrew Shaffer) wrote called FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY. From Ana having an “inner guidette” as part of her inner monologue to lines like “Holy Mother Effing Sparkly Vampires Is He Hot,” the book is worth a really good laugh. I even have a blurb on the back cover.

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