When you want the perfect blend of romance, intrigue and suspense, Mckenna Cooke is the author to look for. She's the creator of the Little School of Horrors series and she was kind enough to take a moment with Heard and describe her inspiration behind the series.
Check out the interview below for a peek into the mind of a suspense writer!
Heard: So, where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
McKenna: I grew up in Chandler, AZ. I have eight siblings, but mostly half and step because of my parents divorce and remarry. I lived with my mom and four of my siblings in a cute suburban neighborhood where I met my best friend at the age of four who I am still friends with today. I visited my father with my only blood brother every other weekend, we had a time share in Mexico, we had a step brother who visited every year from England, I moved right before the start of junior high to Gilbert, AZ. I had a terrific, easy childhood.
Heard: Is anyone else in your family a writer?
McKenna: My aunt is a writer (Cathy Peterson). It is actually something I didn't even know about until I was deep into my first novel! My mom and grandfather like to take swings at writing, and I like to think I have inspired them.
Heard: Do you remember the incident or moment when you realized that you enjoyed writing stories? If so, can you tell us about it?
McKenna: There might not be a specific moment, but I grew up loving to read. It was in the seventh grade that I grabbed an empty spiral notebook and wrote a little chapter book called, "Haters". I don't remember much about it other than the fact that a girl snuck into her high school. From there I wrote all kinds of little stories, one being about a girl who was about to get a boyfriend but then goes on a cruise without cell phone service (I write from inspiration from my own life) and then she doesn't know if he's still going to want her when she comes back. I always liked to write books that have a little more than just romance to them. I live for the drama, especially suspenseful drama. I actually wrote the first Little School of Horrors when I was just fourteen. This was in a spiral notebook as well. Then when I was nineteen, I came across it in a storage box, and liked the idea behind it (even though the writing needed work!) and I went with it. So it's safe to say Little School of Horrors has been a part of my life for ten years now!
Heard: What inspired the Little School of Horrors series?
McKenna: I remember writing it as just some girly love triangle drama when I was fourteen. Then when I neared the end of it, I realized I wanted to make it a little scary. I wanted to throw in a huge cliffhanger. I think I was obsessed with Pretty Little Liars (the books, not the show) and it is what inspired me. Also, kind of strange, but whenever my older sister would play Barbies with me growing up, one of the ken dolls was always trying to kidnap or murder the other Barbies (my sister loves scary movies). So I think in a way, that inspired me, too.
Heard: What was the most challenging aspect of writing the series?
McKenna: I would say that filling in gaps and making sure all of the pieces fit is the hardest part. I wanted to leave the readers with many questions that wouldn't be revealed until the end, but I had to write my way around the answers to keep everyone in the dark. It's part of the reason I love mysteries so much. I like to keep people guessing. I know when I read mystery or suspense novel, dying to know who did it is my favorite part.
Heard: Which of the 3 books did you most enjoy writing? And why?
McKenna: Definitely the third. I wrote and published Resolution all in about seven months. I was so excited to reveal everything. To end it all. To have Malorie make her final decision. I had seen many of the scenes so many times in my head over the past ten years, that it was amazing to finally put it into writing. I even teared up a little.
Heard: What is one of the most difficult things about being a writer?
McKenna: Finding the time to write when you're in college and working two jobs. And writers block. Not knowing how to fill a hole, or not feeling inspired enough to keep going for months on end. As much as I hate to admit it, it took me about two and a half years to publish Psycho, the second one in the series, after publishing the first Little School of Horrors. And getting a fan base and getting people to read and review is difficult, too. In today's society, people wont buy books unless they have good reviews, and a LOT of reviews. No one seems to just open a book that sounds interesting to them anymore.
Heard: What do you like about being a writer?
McKenna: I love that I can do what I love. Even if I never make a dime, I would be happy knowing I have the ability to write and put my imagination to use even as an adult.
Heard: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book but has never done so before?
McKenna: Use Pinterest. For random writing tips. Formatting tips. Plot tips. Character tips. Use it to get inspiration for what the setting of the book will be. What the characters will look like. Its such an amazing tool. On my Pinterest, I have an entire board called, "I Write". And Then I have a secret board for my personal books where I keep house ideas, outfit ideas, and character looks. It's incredibly useful. Also. Keep reading. Its the best way to stay inspired.
A huge thank you to Mckenna for allowing us insight into her background and writing process!
Click here to find her books on amazon.com.
Click here to find her books on amazon.com.