Interview with Donna Cook

Gift of the Phoenix

I recently had the privilege of reading and reviewing Gift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook. Gift of the Phoenix is a new YA Epic Fanasy and was Kindle Book of The Year semifinalist for 2013.  I was lucky enough to have the chance to do an interview with Donna and ask her a few Question about her and Gift of the Phoenix.

Head over to Donna’s Blog to see what she is working on now. And be sure to pick up read her new novel Gift of the Phoenix at Amazon. Cook has written one prequel novella titled Nashua’s Chronicles, and an upcoming sequel to Gift of the Phoenix is in the works.

What made you start writing?

When I first learned how to read, I remember my mother explaining where books come from. I was so young, I guess I thought books came into existence all by themselves. She told me the author is the person who makes up the story. My eyes grew wide and I thought, I want to do THAT. She may as well have told me how to cast spells, it seemed such a magical revelation. I still feel such joyous playfulness when I create stories. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

What books are you reading now, or what type of books do you typically read?

I read all across the board, but contemporary fiction is the bulk of it. I’m also fond of a good classic, quality young adult, and the occasional fantasy. Right now I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. Other recent reads: The Rosie Project, by Simsion Graeme; Incantation, by Alice Hoffman; Little Bee, by Chris Cleave; The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe; and Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger. Fantasy books I frequently recommend: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss and The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner.

Do you have a schedule/system/routine for your writing?

I wish I were better about this. My husband and I have six kids between us, five still at home. There are days when I can put in a few hours and days when there’s not a minute to spare and I collapse into bed exhausted. When the kids are grown, I hope to have a better schedule. Until then I do what I can and try to enjoy them while I still have them.

Who edited your book, how did you find/choose them?

Displaying Donna Cook author Gift of the Phoenix.jpg

Donna Cook- Author of Gift of the Phoenix

If there is something you know now, that you wish you knew when you started writing, what would it be?

Well, I started quite young so there were all kinds of things I didn’t know. I wish I’d really understood how much time and practice it takes to develop the advanced writing skills required to create a solid novel. I would have been easier on myself and not so discouraged by false starts. I think this is why I love to encourage young aspiring writers. Go forth and be fearless!

What genre do you consider Gift of the Phoenix? Do you plan to focus your writing career mostly in this genre?

Gift of the Phoenix is an epic fantasy adventure. There will be at least one follow-up novel, plus I have another stand-alone fantasy in the works. I’m sure I’ll get back to my literary roots and write a contemporary fiction novel, but I don’t know when that will be. I’ve learned the hard way that the Muse is in charge of things like that.

(After the GofP sequel) do you have plans for another novel or series?

Answered above, but I hope to write until the day I die. I’ll write as many novels as fate allows.

What types of inspiration help you to create the characters and magic in Gift of the Phoenix?

Sometimes I know exactly where I got an idea, but other ideas seem to spring into existence from nothing at all. Music often inspires me. Loreena McKennitt’s The Mask and the Mirror album is a favored way to get my creative mojo going. The theme song from Forrest Gump inspired the horse race between Marcellus and Janus. I also love looking at old maps and fantastical illustrations of faeries or mythical creatures. I don’t directly use what I’m looking at, but it gets my mind working. When I first had the idea to write a book about a Phoenix, I made a list of my favorite things and brainstormed ways to work them into the story. Only a small percentage of those ideas stuck, but it was a fun exercise. My love of lighthouses led to the creation of the Rock of Light.

When writing Gift of the Phoenix, did you start writing from the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle of the book?

With most of my projects, Gift of the Phoenix included, I use a plain spiral notebook to brainstorm ideas for plot, scenes, and characters. I work randomly, so by the time I’m done the notebook is an unorganized mess. The book is pretty well set in my mind though. I figure anything I forget wasn’t good enough to keep anyway. Once I start writing the draft, I work from beginning to end.

What is your favorite scene from of Gift of the Phoenix?

Oooh, that’s a tough one. I have so many! Corren going through the Labyrinth. Nicolai tending to King Clement. Marcellus and Corren in the Haven of Kings. Just about any scene with Janus. 🙂

Who was the first character from the Gift of the Phoenix cast that you created?

The Three were created as one, inspired by my three boys, who were quite small at the time. One day I told my oldest son a story about three boys who go off on an adventure, each with their own magical stone. I wasn’t crazy about the story itself, but I loved the idea of three protagonists, and the three stones. Corren, Marcellus, and Nicolai formed organically, with personalities very different from my sons.

Can you tell us anything about the coming sequel?

Hmmm…. I tend to be quite tight-lipped about these things. Especially since I so enjoy weaving a mystery, which you saw in Gift of the Phoenix.  I can tell you the sequel picks up right where Gift of the Phoenix left off. When Corren divides the egg of ash into seven parts, ceremonially placing each branch’s ash into their respective orbs, the Heads of the branches retrieve their ash from the altar. Only one orb will not lift off the stone. It’s up to Corren to figure out why. The answer entwines the fate of the Three with… well, that’s all I’m going to say. Sorry!

I want to thank Donna Cook again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me! This is the first interview I have been able to do for my blog. I look forward to the next in the series. If you would like to see my review of Gift of the Phoenix check it out here:

Gift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook – Review

Be sure to come back for another review and interview of Donna Cooks next novel, as well as other YA fantasy interviews and review.

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9 Comments

Filed under Interviews

9 responses to “Interview with Donna Cook

  1. Pingback: Gift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook – Review | Zero2Fiction

  2. Thanks for the interview Will! It was fun. 🙂

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  3. I had fun too! I loved that you take a mess of notes in a notebook. That is how I am currently on my book.

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    • Oooh, what are you writing? 🙂

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      • The Series (as of right now) is called The Sentients. With the first book titled The Gladiator’s Seeker.

        The premise is that everything and anything you have ever though, imagined, or believed to exist, has to go somewhere once it leaves your head; that place is Called Nous.

        Nous is a realm governed by Father time and his descendents Past (Mr. P), Futer (Eff), and Present (Yet to be named.) The world of Nous is slowly leaking back to earth and upsetting the balance of thought and reality. It is up to 3 children (called Sentients by inhabitants of Nous), Trip, Thia, and Javier to restore balance to Nous before it completely collapses back onto reality.

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      • Sounds really interesting! A unique idea with lots of possibilities. Good job! 🙂

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      • Thanks! I am still outlining right now, have the end of the 5th book of the series and most of the first book set. I need to create more of the middle stories before I write the rest of the first novel.

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      • Wonderful! Best of luck to you and keep me posted. 🙂

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  4. One correction above-Future, not Futer. Oops

    I’m still working on the quick book summary, I have never told anyone the plot of the story yet. So that was my first attempt!

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