Nano Spotlight: Jeffrey Cook, First Light, Dawn of Steam

Good morning, friends followers and Wrimos! Today it’s Jeffrey’s turn in the spotlight, and I had to abbreviate his interview title. He wanted me to put: “Jeffrey Cook, author of the upcoming Steampunk novel First Light: Dawn of Steam series book 1 (with help from Sarah Symonds)” 🙂 You can find Jeffrey on the Nano site of course, at his in-development website, and on facebook.

Tell me a bit about your experience with Nano so far…
This will be my fifth year doing Nanowrimo. I was originally talked into it by my now co-author, Sarah Symonds, who had first gotten involved in 2008. Nano has gotten very big in the Seattle community, so there was no lack of motivation once I got started. Really, I think the supportive community and encouragement is my favorite part of Nano.
My favorite memory is still starting on the Dawn of Steam books that year. I’d done some short stories and such, but never anything this big, so I was kind of worried about reaching 50k. Then my narrator character really started talking to me. I had recently been laid off, so I had plenty of time, and after working a customer service job in the insurance industry for 11 years, a ton of creative energy wanting to get out on the page too. I hit 50k in 6 days, and finished the month a little over 300k, with (very) rough drafts of a trilogy. Its never been nearly that easy again – just the excitement of a new project, a lot of locals egging me on, extra time, and suddenly having energy and an outlet for it after a lot of years working on the phone.

What are you writing about this year?
Last year I kind of false started. I got my 50,000 words done, but wasn’t happy with the results. So this year I’m trying to adjust my process a little bit, and get a YA science fiction novel done and ready for editing. So – re-doing The Accidental Inquisitor this year.

Who’s the best character in your Nano novel?
The best character in this year’s novel is probably Amiko Kimura, or just Miko. She’s sort of the sidekick to my main character, and just has one of those big personalities that makes her fun to write. I’m also kind of fond of her undead car, Vlad, who isn’t quite a character so much as a feature.
Best character overall though would probably be my narrator character from the Dawn of Steam books. Once I found Gregory’s voice, it made the three books a lot easier to write.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Get involved. Go to write-ins. If there’s no write ins near you, get on the boards for your region and see if others in your area want to help get one together. The community here in Seattle really helps a lot with the creative process and maintaining motivation. Getting a change of scenery and writing over coffee (or apple cider in my case, not being a coffee drinker… a rarity among Seattlites, yes) really helps.
The previous mods in Seattle, lheannon and Mandrina have done a great job creating lots of events accessible to everyone, and with Mandrina returning, and two wonderful new liasons this year bringing a little bit of new energy to the process, I’m really looking forward to the local write ins this year.
My other big trick to getting to 50k… or in my case, usually 150k or more, is the preparation in October. My two big projects there are designing a music playlist suited to the feel and theme of the book, and writing myself a loose outline. Then, by chapter 4 or so, I’ve deviated from the outline, but it still gives me a framework and some targets. Once my outline is no longer recognizeable, I take what I have and do a new outline. It helps to have a plan, I’ve found – and then be willing to deviate from the plan and make a new one.
Regardless, using October to prepare for November really makes the process easier.

Sneaky Ninja question! How would you want to die?
Falling after my chute fails to open when out parachuting to celebrate my 101st birthday.

DawnofSteamOneCoverThe Dawn of Steam trilogy was my very first nano project. After years of re-writes, editing, test reading, fine tuning, and a lot of support in all of those, the first book is scheduled to come out in February of 2014.
The three books are Steampunk books set in the regency era following the Napoleonic Wars, covering 1815 to 1820. The books are done in epistolary format – i.e. the whole book is told in the form of letters and journal entries from the characters in the novel as they take a refitted military dirigible around the world.
For those who aren’t familiar with steampunk, its essentially alternate history meets science fiction, inspired by writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. In the case of this book, there’s more than a little bit of the journals of Lewis and Clark and old western novel thrown in amidst the airships, post-war hostilities, era fashion and other trappings of Steampunk.


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