Our interview with Douglas Cobb!

Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer (The Case Files of Lily and PAWS)Image of Douglas Cobb

Douglas R. Cobb was born in Illinois and attended the University of Illinois, earning a BA in Rhetoric. Then, at Arizona State University, Douglas earned a Master’s in English, and at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, he earned a Master’s in Secondary Education. Little Rock is where he met his wife, Beth. He now lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which features prominently in his novel Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer, Book Two of his The Case Files of Lily and PAWS series. Book One is titled Lily, Unleashed.
Douglas and Beth have a twenty-two-year old son, Ben (Dexter Quince in the series), and a seventeen-year-old daughter, Kaitlin (Celeste in the series). He has always had a love for writing, but was finally motivated to write Lily, Unleashed, by his daughter’s prompting him to write about her “dog,” Lily, who is featured on the covers of the series.
Besides Douglas desiring his readers to have fun reading his novels (that’s the most important thing about reading any book), he also hopes he has created a heartwarming series that readers will fall in love with, as well as LOL at.
Enjoy life, enjoy reading, write yourself, and believe in yourself: these are some of the things that Douglas believes are important for everyone! To learn more about the books Lily, Unleashed and Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer, please visit Douglas Cobb’s blog, “What’s New In Book Reviews,” at: http://douglascobb.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/whats-new-in-book-reviews/

                                                             Bio provided by author’s site.

We meet Douglas through Kindle Direct Publishing in our thread asking for people to volunteer to interview. Douglas was very interested in being interviewed! He enjoys life and has a great determination when it comes to something he really believes in. So without further delay, it is my great pleasure to introduce Douglas! Sit back and enjoy.

1. What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?

A good hook? Crazy, crazy predicaments. Lily and PAWS (Lily being the terrier/pterodactyl heroine of Lily, Unleashed and Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts Of Summer)and Lily’s heart-warming relationship with her “owner,” thirteen-year-old Celeste Quince, are the main focuses of the e-novels. PAWS, of course, is the crime-fighting organization she heads, made up of other crazy animals like Fuzzy Wally MacGee (a Chinese Crested/rhino), Lucy Marmoset Higgins (a Great Dane/orangutan), and Prince Alphonse Saed (a miniature dachsund/Mountain Lion).

For these two novels, I suppose my 17-year-old daughter, Kaitlin, was an inspiration, as she talked me into writing both of them. And, Roald Dahl was in my mind as I wrote. I tried to make the books LOL enough so that parents reading them aloud to their children would crack up (hopefully) in laughter. There are also evil Christmas elves later on in Lily, Unleashed that sing like Oompah-Loompahs. Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer was also greatly influenced by actual haunted locations throughout Arkansas, and by its Wild West past. The ghost of the “Bandit Queen,” Belle Starr, is one of the many ghosts I mention in the book.

2. Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters? Or do you free write and work it out as you go?

Both. Sort of, kind of. The first book in The Case Files of Lily and PAWS, Lily, Unleashed, I had a very general idea of where to go with the story. I wanted it to be spread out throughout an entire year, as what happens at the very beginning of the novel pretty much demanded that when I picked up that part of the story again, the weather had to be relatively warm again. So, I went through an entier year’s worth of adventures to get to the conclusion, and tried to top each chapter with the next one. I don’t know for sure if I succeeded, but I tried to do that.

The sequel, Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer, on the other hand, I actually researched much more in depth. That’s because its plot deals a great deal with actual haunted places in Arkansas, and with the history of my adopted state. It takes place, as the title suggests, just over the course of a summer, so it’s somewhat shorter, but it’s a pretty cool book, also, with some genuinely frightening moments as I got a bit Stephen King-influenced as I wrote the novel.

And, I was very influenced by pop and cultural references. I’m not sure how many celebrity names, moveis, etc., I mention in both books, but it was a lot.

3. What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule?

I am relatively new to writing novels. Lily, Unleashed I wrote just this past August-September, and it’s around 65,950 words. Then, I wrote Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer mostly this past November, 2011, for the NaNoWriMo event (National Novel Writing Month). I finished it in December. I tried to write around 2,000 words a day. Now, with the YA novel I’m currently writing, My Brother the Zombie, I started off with the best of intentions, to write 3,000 words per day, despite my having a day job, books to read and review, and family that I would like to spend more time with. It’s a great book, but I’ve slowed down, as I’ve been writing reviews, spending way to much time on Facebook and Twitter, etc. (Tweet Me @DouglasRCobb) You can leave comments/questions for Lily herself to answer at her FB page, http://www.facebook.com/#!/LilyUnleashed
So, I have no “normal” writing day. I wish I could spend more time to my writing, but I need to wait for the public to gain a greater awareness of my writing, I suppose. Interviews like this are a big help–thanks once again!

4. Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?

I mentioned one of my favorite MG/YA authors, Roald Dahl. There are many, many more–Catherine Jenks, the author of the Evil genius series, is one, and Katie Milford, who wrote Boneshaker. Then, of course, there are ones like Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton, and I loves me some SF and Fantasy novels, too. Robert Zelazny, P.K. Dick, L.Jagi Lamplighter, John C. Wright, Neal Asher, Alex Bledsoe, and Jim Butcher are just a sampling of the SF and Fantasy authors I love reading.

5. It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like?

Sometimes pushing myself is hard, and I might prefer to be doing something else. I often need to do other things, like catch up on reading/reviewing books, so I also have to set aside time for that. My own book review web site is What’s New In Book Reviews, at: http://douglascobb.wordpress.com/

6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?

I sure try to make time for that–I kinda have to, but I get sent books for free, at least, which helps the pocket book somewhat. I’m reading an anthology by the horror author, Charles Grant, called Nightmare Seasons. It’s an ebook (NeCon published it), and the review will appear at my site soon. Also, I’m reading Black Thunder, an Ella Clah Mystery, by the husband and wife writing duo, Aimee and David Thurlo. And, I have stacks impatiently waiting me after those….

7. How did you get started on writing from your dog’s point of view?. Is there personal life experience in the writing?

As I mentioned, Lily is our family’s–well, my daughter’s–“dog”. she is definitely real, and my daughter took the photos that are used on both of the covers at a local dog park in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Kaitlin had wanted me to write a book for some time about Lily. I’m not sure what type of book she was expecting, but one week this past August, when Kaitlin was visiting her grandparents in Paris, AR. (which I mention in both novels), I began writing Lily, Unleashed, and emailed Kaitlin the results on a daily basis. She kept writing things like” “LOL!” and “More, more!” so I kept on, not really intending to keep on going, but encouraged by how much Kaitlin enjoyed reading about Lily’s, and PAWS’s, adventures. Celeste Quince, who is thirteen in the books, is loosely based on Kaitlin, though she has parents who are multimillionaires and inventors of very, very strange things, unlike myself and my wife. There are some eprsonal experiences, quite a few, but
they are fictionalized to fit with the plot.

8. Your books have been published with X company, Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?

Ebooks are the new wave, and are destined to become more and more popular. There were literally millions of Kindles, for instance, sold this past year leading up to Christmas. I will always love books printed on paper, and I truly hope they’ll always be around and that I will possibly eventually have my books published in that format, also, but Ebooks just seem to be where the direction of publsihing is currently heading.

9. Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings?

Not really other than the ones I mentioned, though I have a couple of hsor stories in the Horror genre that may show up at a couple of online magazines or in anthologies in the near future–fingers crossed. But, please do check out my web site, and Lily’s FB page!

10. Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?

Yes, the one I mentioned, My Brother the Zombie. It is more of a traditional YA Horror novel, though with a romantic element, and some touches of humor here and there. I’m almost finished with the ninth chapter, and I hope to have it finished sometime in February. Though unrelated to the Lily series of books, it’s set in the same fictional city of Centralia, Arkansas. It has a few fairly grisly scenes in it, and mild (relatively speaking) curse words in it, as well. It is not Twilight, with zombies, though one of the main characters does have a girlfriend, Adele.

11. Who would be your first choice to play Lily from your book Lily?

If you are talking about if Disney or Nickolodean Films ever makes it into a movie, using either real animals or as a cartoon, I don’t really know. Someone who is good at playing slightly off-center characters, though, like maybe the woman who sometimes plays the guitar and sings odd but cool songs on the TV series, Raising Hope. I actually was thinking as I wrote it, and the sequel, that it would be great as a movie, and I tried to include lots of Disney and Nick references, among many others.

12. If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?

I’m not really sure–probably most people who are famous would be thinking: “Get away from me, you stalker!” or his/her era’s equivalent to that. Jesus would be great to meet, I suppose; but, I think it would have been fantastic to have met someone like Roger Zelazny, who wrote Nine Princes in Amber, or Roald Dahl. One person I have met, because he played the Jack Nicholson role in the play of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Sullivan Little theater in Illinois (where I lived–in Champaign), is Leonard Nimoy, who was Spock in the Star Trek series. I really liked him in Fringe, also.