Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Post: Deborah Cooke

UFI welcomes Deborah Cooke Author of Flying Blind. Thanks for Joining us!!

I was the kid who got in trouble for reading…
By Deborah Cooke

I read a lot when I was a kid. In fact, I read pretty much all the time. I loved reading. I loved visiting other worlds and being other people and having great adventures. My mom always said that no one could be bored if he or she had a book to read, and I was never bored. I read even when I wasn’ t supposed to read. I read in bed, under the covers with a flashlight. I read early in the morning, before everyone else was up. I read during class. I read in the car. I read when I was walking – and sometimes collided with the wall.

The earliest stories I remember reading were fairy tales. I just loved them and I hunted down collections of them. I read the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, the colour-coded collections of fairy tales by Andrew Lang, and collections made by country. There was a good library in my school and a better public library within walking distance, and I don’ t remember anyone telling me that I couldn’ t read a particular book. I still read fairy tales. Later, I discovered retellings of my favourite fairy tales – by Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen – and gobbled them up as well. I particularly enjoy twists on familiar tales and suspect that my love of this genre of fiction is the reason I so like happy endings.

It seemed only natural to me that I moved from fairy tales to fantasy fiction. The dragons and demons of fairy tales lived on in this part of the library, but were much more interesting and multi-dimensional characters. I read Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and the work of so many other wonderful writers when I was a teenager. This was where I met medieval stories, like the Arthurian cycle, which were thick with romance and gorgeous imagery.

I also read the usual books that kids were expected to read. Between my two best friends and I, we had ALL of the Nancy Drew books, and swapped them constantly. My mother also had some books that she had collected with her friends, called The Beverly Gray mysteries. These were much more dramatic than the Nancy Drew books and I loved them for their over-the-top action. Maybe these books gave me my ideas about intrepid heroines – women who get things done and don’ t need to be saved, thank you very much.

Finally, I used to raid my mom’ s book stash when she wasn’ t looking. My mom has always read mysteries, so it was on her bookshelves that I first discovered the work of Phyllis A. Whitney, Agatha Christie and Victoria Holt. I particularly enjoyed the more gothic of these books, and the mingling of romance and mystery. I suspect these are the books that ultimately led me to writing historical romances, because I wanted to tell the same kinds of stories but tell them my way.

I also read the dictionary in grade six. It was issued to us as one of our textbooks, and I used to read it when the class was boring. I started to read the dictionary out of desperation, but I found the origin of words and their meanings really interesting. Maybe that dictionary is the reason I’ m a writer, because I do love language and I am still fascinated with words. The funny thing is that when I got in trouble for reading - instead of paying attention to the 748th explanation of how to solve this particular kind of math problem - and the teacher realized it was the dictionary I was reading, I’ m not sure he knew what to do about it.

I still pull down the dictionary every once in a while – I have a much bigger one now – and let it fall open on my desk. Then I read every entry on that double page spread – and I laugh when I remember the look on my teacher’ s face when he discovered what I was reading that day.


Author Bio:
Deborah Cooke has always been fascinated with dragons, although she has never understood why they have to be the bad guys. She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies. She is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels, and has written over forty romance novels and novellas. 

She has also been published under the names Claire Cross and Claire Delacroix

Deborah makes her home in Canada with her husband. When she isn't writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.

In October and November 2009, Deborah was the writer in residence for the Toronto Public Library, the first time that the library has hosted a residency focussed on the romance genre. The blog that Deborah created for the residency can be found HERE.

Flying Blind
The Dragon Diaries #1
June 7, 2011

Zoë is the Wyvern of the Pyr – the one female dragon shape shifter with special powers.  But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr, and her powers are AWOL. Worse, there’s no reference book to consult, and the last Wyvern is dead…. 

Everything changes when Zoë’s best friend is bullied and Zoë reacts. Before she can blink twice, her inner dragon is loose, and she’s suspended from school and headed to a shape shifter boot camp with guys she’s known all her life. But soon she’s doubting her powers – and even some of her friendships. 

Zoë quickly realizes she has to master her powers yesterday – there’s danger ahead and boot camp is a trap. A secretive group, the Mages, want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line – unless Zoë and her friends can solve the riddle and work together to save their own kind…

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