readBC ~ Bev. Cooke

We think British Columbia is a pretty special place to live and also a great place to create wonderful children’s literature. readBC is a series of short interviews introducing our readers to our authors and illustrators and their craft. Read the complete series here.
For a list of books created and set in British Columbia, visit this page.

Bev. Cooke
Region: The Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island

Where did you grow up, and does that place affect your writing?
I grew up in Scarborough Ontario, Seeley’s Bay, Ontario, and Honey Harbour, Ontario. They don’t affect the geography of my stories, which tend to take place in a fictional Victoria BC, where I live now, but the culture, and the experiences of the places closest to my heart certainly affected me, which affects my writing.

Are any of your books set in B.C.?
One of them is – Feral. It’s set in a fictional Victoria, BC, and one of my works in progress is also set in a fictional Victoria.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Confused – my schedule is subject to change without notice because of the people around me. A heavenly day is one where nobody but the animals (two cats, one super extroverted lovebird) and I are free to do my work with nobody else in the house.

Here’s a typical day: I got up late – 9 am instead of 8. I had intended to do a grocery shop (necessitating the use of the single car we own), then get some household chores done, get some work done on the Oleksa files (one of my two current works in progress), get an hour of research done on genetic sciences, make dinner, and work on the troll story in the evening (in between checking Facebook). Instead, not even two sips into my first coffee my illustrator phones about a project that is at the publisher’s now. So we talked about that for an hour, then I spent an hour working on my writing craft by watching a DVD lecture with a writing friend (I’d forgotten about that commitment until she called 1/2 an hour before arriving), and was informed of my partner’s schedule changes that necessitated his using the car (we’re a single car family). My son and his girlfriend arrived from college for lunch (they cooked) and visited (this wasn’t planned). At 2 pm, both my partner and my son inform me (since it’s my day to cook dinner) of schedule changes to take effect at dinnertime this evening (i.e dinner has to be an hour earlier than usual). In addition, my son’s job schedule change has gone into effect a week earlier than originally announced, meaning he’s going to be at home this evening. Which means so is his girlfriend and her infant daughter. Which means I’m going to be tickling a baby instead of writing that evening, because the baby and I are silly about each other.

By contrast, today I’ve gotten three volunteer jobs done for both my volunteer organizations, including two phone meetings over the layout for the invitations for one of them, and inputted those changes, pdfed the invites and emailed them to the relevant person, organized and printed the Oleksa files, done the household chores, thawed the meat for dinner (my turn again), looked over the troll story for what needs to come next, and have jotted down some ideas and am preparing to go out for my walk. Not only productive, but what I *wanted* and planned to be doing. Everybody is out!

What are you working on now?
Threeish things. One is at the publishers and I’m just waiting for the proofs to arrive before that one is off my list entirely. The second is a “collaboration” between a respected Orthodox historian/priest and myself about some of the history of the Orthodox church in Alaska. Talks he has given on the subject have been recorded and I was hired to transcribe them. His talks are casual and relaxed, and I’m hoping to compile and edit them into a mid-grade children’s book. His storytelling voice is perfect for that age range and it would be a wonderful book for Orthodox children to learn about the history of their faith in North America. The last is a sort of SF young adult story about a bioengineered troll and the young man who befriends him. That’s what all the DNA research is about. It’s a tough book to write, and a real challenge, but it’s one I’m very much enjoying working on.

Where do you do your work, and/or what’s on your desk?
I do computer work in my office, at my desk. Paper work I tend to do at the kitchen table or outside on the deck in the fresh air, where I can watch the birds.

On the desk: top shelf: empty journals, writing books (books about the craft of writing), a photo of my dad, a kaleidoscope, an ashtray my brother gave me, knick knacks (a knitting snowlady, a writing dragon, a gargoyle, a stone painted like a raccon, two corncob pipes, beeswax candles shaped like beehives, two Discworld figures, one of Granny Weatherwax and one of a “compass” with decision points), copies of my books and my friends books, some of my theological and spiritual books.

On the shelves: notepaper, photos of my son & daughter when they were younger, a Betty Boop keychain that’s too big & cute to use, my grandfather’s ordination Bible, a photo of Princess Ileana/Mother Alexandra of Romania, church service books, paperclip holder, stapler, jumpstick for the computer, batteries, tax forms, tins holding who knows what? (I’d have to look), lightbulbs for the halogen desk lamp.

On the desk top: computer monitor, USB ports, speakers, phone, cell phone holder, a little beach chair with Betty Boop on the canvas (yes, I like Betty Boop). Cellphone charging cable, duster, fancy pen & pencil set someone gave me, bookmarks. Pens and pencils and markers in broken coffee cups, a fat ballerina porcelain figurine (because I used to dance with “Big Dance”), a Betty Boop porcelain figurine (waiting for a safe place to hang them, they’re actually Christmas ornaments), more gargoyles (I also collect gargoyles), my filing box, notepaper, mouse, two stacks of blank CDs and DVDs, a thing my son made for in grade three that holds odds & ends, another thing my daughter made for me in Grade 3 that holds incense, a bowl of bird seed and a cup of water for Tibby the lovebird, notes for three household projects, two volunteer projects and on top of all that, Minou, one of the cats, hoping I’ll pet him and trying to get in front of the monitor.

To learn more about Bev. and her books, check out her website and blog.
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