Thursday, 21 July 2016

Debut Spotlight: Zoe Cook

It's finally publication day for today's debut spotlight guest Zoe Cook as One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay is out today in eBook format with the paperback version following next month. 

I grew up by the sea in Cornwall, spending my summers on the beach. I left to study History at Oxford University, before starting a career in television during which I was lucky enough to travel the world interviewing incredible authors for the Richard & Judy Book Club. 

Fast forward ten years I’m now married to a lovely man called James and have a daughter who keeps us on our toes. Oh, and a very furry cat called Bobby.

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay?
With Hideaway Bay I wanted to write the kind of summer read that I love to read: fast paced, sunny, and romantic with characters you really fall for. I grew up in Cornwall and have always wanted to write stories set in the beaches and bars of the North Cornish Coast. I hope it’s a story that people can relate to, it’s all about choosing who we want to be as we grow up, about how we are affected by where we come from, and about what ‘home’ really means. 

Lucy, hi. It’s Tom. How are you? It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to get in touch but it’s hard to know how to after so much time. I hear you’re doing really well up there. I knew you would be.

You should come here, you know, back to Hideaway bay. Come and see everyone, see how little it’s all changed. Feel the sand between your toes, the Cornish sea breeze on your face. When the sun hits the surf in that way it does, it’s as magical as ever.

That’s why I’m writing to you, actually. I want to get the gang back together again, one last time before…well…just one last time. You should come too. The four of us, a summer on the beach, like old times. We all want you here for it. I want you here for it. It’s been so long since I saw you.

I still think about you.

Tom

The cover of your book is gorgeous, did you have much creative input into its creation? 
I can’t take credit for the beautiful cover. Alex at Harper Collins who designed it is also from Cornwall and she has really done our homeland justice. It’s exactly what I wanted the cover to be, I’d like to be sat there looking out at that view!

I love the sound of Hideaway Bay in the title, is this inspired by a real location?  
I grew up on the south coast of cornwall, in a seaside town called Looe. It’s your typical Cornish holiday town, with pasties, fish and chip shops, ice cream parlours, amusement arcades and a very pretty beach. Hideaway Bay has little hints of Looe in there, but the main inspiration actually comes from the North Coast. Growing up I spent so many summers camping by the beach in Polzeath, it’s my favourite place in the world and writing a story set on the north coast gave me the chance to escape there in my imagination for hours at a time, which was a real pleasure. 

When you were planning One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay which came first, the characters or the plot? 
I had the plot in my mind for a long time before I started writing anything. It evolved over a few years (I’m good at procrastinating), and I only started writing when it felt fully formed. Along the way the characters seemed to introduce themselves and by the time I was writing I had quite a clear key cast of four – two young couples who are also best friends. The book follows them from being sixteen and carefree, to their twenties where they’re trying to work out their place in the world. The very different ways they all approach those decisions about what you want your life to be was something that really fascinated me.     

If you had to describe One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay in one sentence, what would it be? 
I’d say it’s a a coming-of-age love story set on the stunning North Cornish coast.

What can we expect from you next?
I’m looking forward to writing more stories set on the Cornish coast. I feel like we’ve seen the characters from Hideaway Bay come a long way, and their story is at a natural end by the close of the book. I think it’s definitely time for fresh characters, but I’ll never get tired of writing about Cornwall. 

How did your writing journey start?   
I was a TV producer on Richard & Judy’s book club and then on The TV Book Club on Channel 4, and was lucky enough to help choose the books that made it on to the lists for the shows. I also travelled the world meeting the authors who we featured, which was a huge privilege, and massively inspirational. It was actually meeting Jackie Collins at her home in Beverly Hills and interviewing her for the show that gave me the final push to start writing. There was something so infectious about her passion and that made me want to grab hold of life and achieve things – I’d always wanted to write a book, and had never got around to it, but Jackie gave me the push I needed. She was a wonderful writer and a fabulous woman. 

Have you treated yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing your debut novel? 
No, but that is a very good idea. I have a one year old daughter and a baby due in October so most things I buy are for tiny people. Maybe I should treat myself.  

Finally have you anything exciting planned for publication day itself? 
I’m very much looking forward to dinner with my husband at Oblix, one of the restaurants in the Shard building in London. I’m a massive food fan, so any excuse for a nice dinner is one I’ll gladly take. 

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