Diva Interview: Author Janine Cobain
This year I’m showcasing indie authors in the Diva Interviews. Whether you’re well-known or just have released your first book, I want to talk to you! It’s the Write Diva thank-you to all authors out there for all of your hard work and perseverance. Today’s interview is with Irish author Janine Cobain.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your books (other projects).
I’m fortysomething mother of three and grandmother living in Belfast with my husband and two of his children. I work full-time, have a huge crush on Michael Fassbender, and writing has become the most fabulous housework avoidance strategy. After all, “Could you load the dishwasher for me, please? I’m writing!” is a grand and plausible excuse.
A couple of years ago, I became involved in a friend’s project when he was looking for test readers for his manuscript. Volunteer by Gary McElkerney was an incredible read, and being involved in the editing and publication process, it rekindled my interest in writing. I became a guest reviewer for a book blog, and the more I read, the more I wanted to write.
My debut novel How Will You Remember Me? is the kind of book I love to read, laden with twists of fate and serendipitous moments. It’s more than a typical romance; it also has strong themes covering friendships, hurt and loss, and asks does everything happen for a reason.
With contacts made at Volunteer’s book launch, we filmed a promo trailer for HWYRM?. While on set, a couple of actors asked if I would be interested in writing a short film for them. “Feathers” is now in post-production and being screened at Queen’s Film Theatre this March in Belfast. I love scriptwriting, and currently I’m working on the adaptation of my own novel, and Volunteer by Gary McElkerney, as well as a number of other short films.
Wow! That sounds amazing! It looks like you have your sights set. What is your inspiration while writing? Do you draw from your personal life?
Life; the people I’ve known, the experiences I and others around me have had. I think it makes sense to write what you know. You want your reader to feel your words, not just read them. By documenting the emotions – even if the scenario is different – it engages people who have had similar feelings, they empathise and connect with you.
So true. Can you share with our readers any sage words of wisdom for anyone looking to publish their first book?
Just do it! These days the route to publishing is far less harrowing than it once was. I know there people have strong views on traditional publishing verses self-publishing, but I firmly believe that the option is professionally verses unprofessionally. As a reader, what matters to me is the story; not how it came to be on the ‘shelf’. Also, my book was for me and I’m at a place in my life where I don’t need the validation of a ‘traditional’ publisher; I love my book, it seems others do too. That’s good enough for me.
The Write Divas are editors, so we value editing more than most people. Tell us how your editing process goes. Who is your editor? What do you love or hate about editing your books?
I am my own editor, and editing your own work is one of the hardest things to do! I wrote the majority of HWYRM? in a short burst over a month or two, and then, as I was tied up organizing an event, left it sitting for a few months. When I picked it back up it was almost unfamiliar, which helped enormously! I also connected with another author over Twitter, and we had a I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours moment, reading each other’s manuscript and making suggestions on what could be improved. I received a lovely e-mail today from her – Sarah Carlson – to say she has signed with a New York based literary agent, thanking me for my input, support and encouragement, as she was about to “set it on virtual fire” before we worked together.
In terms of proofreading, doing your own is a torturous nightmare because you not only see what you want to see, you also know what you meant to write and your brain just scans over it. Microsoft Word’s text to speech facility has proved invaluable as you can hear the mistakes. Financially, I had to do it this way, but given the resource, I would ship my own work out every time!
If you can name the biggest pet peeve about writing books, promoting book, selling books, authors in general, what would it be?
Snobbery! Referring back to the traditional versus independent/self-publishing debate, I introduced myself to a group of female writers recently and one member was so rude on the subject. I gave my views and received numerous messages of support, both on the forum and by private message, many thanking me expressing my viewpoint. Selling your book is difficult, using social media and book clubs can be productive, but it’s time consuming. It’s at this point that the benefits of a “traditional” publisher come into their own; they have the avenues into the stores and supermarkets, and will have a dedicated sales and marketing team.
How does living in Northern Ireland challenge you to break out into other markets for your book?
I think where we live is almost irrelevant now, your work is available globally in an instant with an eBook. I think a good story will travel too; HWYRM is set in Belfast, but it could be anywhere.
What are you upcoming projects?
My first short film is being released in Belfast on 21st March. I have two feature length scripts in development, in talks with two production companies regarding writing short film scripts for them, and I have received a submission to Write Path NI that I believe is something special and will – hopefully – be our next publication. I also have a second novel planned out, but when I’ll get around to making a start, I don’t know!
What I’m trying to say is, the house it likely to remain a mess for the foreseeable future…
Janine moved to Belfast in 2005, from the northeast of England and works full-time as a Loans Manager. Having always been a prolific reader, her interest in writing was recently rekindled and her debut novel How Will You Remember me? was published in 2014.
Write Divas wants to hear from indie authors. If you have a book coming out or are promoting one already published and want to talk to Diva Lauren about your book, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org/old/ to set up an interview.