Friday, 28 November 2014

Have I Got To Have Another Scar? by PG Cook
Genres: Memoir, True Story

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to welcome good friend Pete Cook to the blog. Pete very kindly agreed to answer some questions about his writing. Thanks Pete. But first, lets find out a little bit about Pete's book.

Book Blurb

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 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.

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 today 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………..

Author Interview

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

PETE: Well, I've now hit 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. I coach my boys under 7’s football team and have just passed my level one FA coaching badge. I get a massive buzz from coaching the kids and have got more courses booked in for the new year so hopefully will get a few more qualifications as well.
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 childs 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 its about friendship, bullying and growing up in the 80's. Its 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 flies 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. I have just read David Jasons Autobiography. I've loved pretty much everything he has done and it really was a good read. I don’t want to offer too many spoilers but I was amazed to learn that when he went to the auditions for ‘only fools and horses’ he actually read for the part of granddad and it was David Jason himself who convinced the writers that he should play Dell boy. A good move I am sure you will agree!!!!.

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

PETE: Charlotte is 8 now and up until fairly recently she was pretty much in the clear on all aspects of her previous health issues. We only have to go for check ups once every two years on her heart and her hip and that is (touch wood) more as a precaution. The other issues she had have been signed off completely.  We have however just found out that Charlotte has got curvature of the spine which sadly means more operations. She has just been fitted with a made to measure back brace that will hopefully slow down the curvature until she is a little older, maybe 10 or 11 when she will have the first of two operations to straighten her back. Throughout everything we have been through with Charlotte we have always tried to put a positive spin on things. Its been tough to do this time around as we had kind of hoped all of her operations and medical issues were behind us. That said, there are an awful lot of worse things that she could have been diagnosed with and although its safe to say we are not looking forward to having to go through more operations at least we have a fix, a solution to the issue. And that in itself is something to celebrate. If that sounds a bit daft to people reading this then I urge them to type ‘claudias cause’ into the  facebook or google search engine as reading that will pretty much sum up exactly what I mean. Every day people go through what Claudia’s parents have gone through and well, I simply do not know how they cope. It would simply destroy me.

So yeah, more uncertainty and I’m dreading that feeling of when Charlotte is in the operating theatre but all being well she will come through the other side all sorted, nice and straight (probably 4” taller) and still be smiling, laughing and continue to be the most awesome little daughter any dad could possibly wish for.

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. I can add that if you are about to self publish your book, before pressing the ‘go live’ button get the finished book professionally proof read.  Individuals may have different opinions on your book, some may like the story, some may not, but nobody likes to have to battle through a book that has been badly edited. If I am allowed to plug individuals I strongly recommend ‘Polish Your Prose’ as this company have been exceptional in helping me with my current book. And not forgetting of course the wonderful ‘ Brook Cottage Books’  who also provide a range of both paid and free promotional options for your book!!!

When the book is finished though, and you are out in the spotlight, I can definitely advise people to get online 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 JB and Brook Cottage Books and all the other writers bloggers and book fans  that I have met online. All such a simply wonderful group of people.        

One Response so far.

  1. What a lovely interview. I've a lump in my throat. Hope all works out well for Charlotte

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