Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to have as the featured author today, Pete Cook. This is Pete's first visit to the blog and hopefully not his last! Pete very kindly agreed to an interrogation interview! But first, here's a little about Pete! Enjoy!

Hi, I am Pete Cook. I was born in 1974 in Bedfordshire and up until the birth of my daughter in 2006 I had no idea that I had a love of writing. The circumstances surrounding the early years of my daughter’s life prompted me to put pen to paper and since then I just can’t stop. I love it. I find it so enjoyable.

My first book (and only published book so far) is all about coping with a poorly daughter and the hopes and fears that surely every parent must go through when faced with such testing times. But I have so much more to write about, and so much more that I have already written. Being 'new' to writing means I have a lot to learn but I am going to enjoy the ride none the less.


I knew becoming a dad for the first time would have its tough times. I just didn’t realise how tough. But then I hadn’t reckoned on anything other than a ‘normal’ birth. And perfectly healthy offspring. It had crossed my mind of course, but how many of us really think it could happen to us?

 I’d certainly never imagined I would have to stand by and watch my little girl, 2 days old, being driven off in an ambulance with its lights flashing and sirens blaring. Isn’t that just something that happens to other people?  Our destination was Addenbrookes Hospital, the specialist hospital for babies in our area. I had never been so frightened.

My story takes us through the years of my post university life. Meeting my now wife and the subsequent years that followed. The birth of my daughter and the worrying times that lay ahead.

I have been ever present since the birth of my little princess. Changed her first nappy and carried her to the operating theatre for her first operation and every subsequent operation. I have been consoled and been the one consoling.

I have had many days and nights when my emotions and those of my wife and extended family have been stretched to a limit above and beyond anything I ever thought I would be able to cope with. But I have also laughed so hard its hurt.

This book takes in everything. From simple tales of splashing about in puddles, changing nappies and ending up with the contents of a soiled nappy on my forehead, to not being able to pick my daughter up for a cuddle as she was “way to poorly” and being told by an intensive care nurse “I genuinely thought she  was going to die”.

 I’ve had days when I have thought “why us” and days where I have been thankful it wasn’t us.

I never thought anything could be more frightening than that first operation when Charlotte was just two weeks old. But then came open heart surgery in Gt Ormond St. and what happened in Addenbrookes in June 2008 made the heart surgery operation feel more like a check up at the dentist. Seven operations later and the memories are as fresh as if it was yesterday.

Being a parent is the most amazing experience that has ever happened to me and ultimately I love being a dad, it is without doubt the best feeling in the world,  If we could just stop having to go through so many life saving operations………..

JB: Tell the blog readers a little bit more about who Pete Cook really is – job, hobbies etc

PETE: Well, I'm fast approaching the big 40 and with the exception of 3 years spent at College in Doncaster I have lived in or around Bedford all my life. My day job is working for a Housing Association in the Development department. I am in charge of 'Asset Development' which in brief means I look at our existing assets and work out what needs repairing, managing or just plain knocking down in favour of shiny new houses.  My hobbies, aside from writing, involve football, golf and just messing about with my two kids (there really is nothing like spending time with your kids.) I insist that every day I hear them laugh. Even if it does mean pinning them down and tickling them. If I have any time spare after this then chances are I will be sat down watching something funny (I love comedy) whilst eating pizza.

JB: Do you hope to someday become a full time writer?

PETE:Yes, yes and yes again. Being in a position to write full time really is the dream. I  have no idea if it will ever happen (a lottery win to help pay off the mortgage would help) but in the mean time I will just sit and write whenever I get the opportunity, release more books and enjoy the ride whilst it lasts.

JB: When your daughter was ill, did you keep a diary at the time of what was happening or did you write the book retrospectively?

PETE: A combination of the two really. Ironically had Charlotte (my daughter) not been poorly then I may never have discovered my love of writing. I originally put pen to paper on the advice of a Councillor when Charlotte was first taken into intensive care. He advised me to write all of my hopes and fears down as it would serve as a great coping mechanism. Turns out he was right!  Then when Charlotte was allowed home we had a 'welcome to the world party' to introduce her to all of our family and friends and with the invites I sent out a little story of  what we had been through. Then when we found out Charlotte needed another operation I used writing as a coping tool again and the same for the next operation and the operation after that and so on. Before I knew it and by luck (bad luck?) rather than design I had enough stories to fill a book.   I then wrote retrospectively about everything else. And I didn’t want the book to be all doom and gloom. I wanted people to be able to relate to us as well, to be able to smile in recognition of the things every parent goes through which is why I've quite deliberately included normal, everyday stories. Although I’m not sure getting your child's poo on your forehead could be described as normal!

JB: How long did it take you to complete the book?

PETE: Once I made the decision to turn all of my little mini stories into a book I would guess it took me about another 6 months to complete. Writing at every conceivable opportunity. But the mini stories were originally written over a 3 year period. Writing about it also served to relieve the boredom of being sat by Charlotte’s hospital bedside for days, sometimes weeks on end.

JB: Tell us a little about what you are writing at the moment.

PETE: I've got a sit com that I have written that I keep updating and tinkering with occasionally but in the main I am working on a new, totally different book. It will be my first fiction book. It is only in its early stages but it’s about friendship, bullying and growing up in the 80's. It’s giving me a great opportunity to look back at the things I remember from my childhood. The story itself is a work of fiction but I'm throwing in a few trips down memory lane for those that read it too.

JB: Do you have any writing rituals? – e.g music on in background?

PETE: No rituals really. At least I don’t think I have. My wife reminds me that as a male I am only capable of doing one thing at once and to be fair, when I am writing, world war 3 could be kicking off around me and I wouldn’t have a clue. I just go into this little world of my own and time just flys by.

JB: What kind of books do you like to read?

PETE: I will read almost anything to be honest. As a kid I loved Roahl Dahl (who didn’t) then I moved on to Terry Pratchet followed by Stephen King but I will read anything really. Next on my reading list is David Jason’s Autobiography. I've loved pretty much everything he has done so it'll be great to read about his off screen antics.

JB: Most importantly, tell us how your daughter is now?

PETE: Charlotte is doing really well thank you. We have check-ups every two years now and only last week we had the all clear for another two years on her heart. We really are a very lucky family. We did have some very tough times in the early days but these tough times are now parked and  thankfully, hopefully, they are all behind us now and I've got two happy and healthy normal (whatever normal is) children.

JB:  Any writing tips?

PETE: I really am not sure I am best placed to answer that. All I can say is that when I write I do it from the heart and write openly and honestly. My new book is non fiction but I have tried to get into the head of the main character  and write as passionately as I can as if I were him. But then I guess all writers do that.

When the book is finished though, I can definitely advise people to get on line and mingle with fellow authors and writers. I have learned that its actually harder to market / promote your book than it is to write it but  the internet is awash with people who will help and offer advice. I am quite genuinely amazed at the kindness of the people I have met through my book. So many people have given up their free time to offer help and advice. I have met, and continue to meet some genuinely wonderful people all of  whom are happy to help and support each other. And as it turns out its also incredibly good fun.

To add to the above I would also like to thank brook cottage books JB and all the other writers bloggers and book fans  that I have met online. All such a simply wonderful group of people.

JB: Thanks so much to Pete for taking the time to visit the blog and answer lots of questions. I think everyone will agree that his book sounds wonderful and well worth a read. 


4 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    This book is wonderfully written and gives the dads point of view which sometimes is overlooked! The book had me laughing, holding my breath and crying throughout.
    A must read if you do or do not have a little one going through such a horrid time .
    Katie x

  2. Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed this interview, it's lovely to get to know the person behind the name :-) Andie_E

  3. Anonymous says:
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  4. What a lovely interview, Peter. I totally agree with Katie. It's not always easy for 'Dad' to reveal his emotions, having to be the 'strong' one. All the more poignant therefore when he does. I love it. :)

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