Author website/social media: stephaniecooke.ca Twitter/Instagram: @hellocookie
When you were my age (11), did you like to read?
I didn’t just like to read, I loved to read! I grew up in a small town in Canada called Lansdowne and there wasn’t much to do there. But we did have a library and so I spent a lot of time there. I would read for ages and borrow books regularly – I especially loved the Greek Mythology books that I think I checked out immediately after returning them. My parents loved that I read and when it came time to start giving me allowance, they rewarded me for reading rather than chores (I still had to do chores, that was just inevitable); I got $2 for every book that I finished over (I believe) 150 pages, and that I could convincingly summarize and tell my parents about. So, I was already a voracious reader but being rewarded for it kept incentivizing me to read more and more all the time.
What is a book that made an impact on you?
This is hard! So many books really stuck with me over the years, but I think the one that I still think about regularly is The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. The character of Lyra really resonated with me at the time (and still does). I saw myself in her tomboy ways, attitude, and views on life; it was such a powerful connection that made me so much more engrossed in the story.
Is it hard to come up with book ideas? Like why mix Greek Mythology and tween/teen life
Great question! It depends – on one hand, it can be easy to come up with ideas for stories. It gets trickier when you go to turn that idea into the actual story. You have to take what sometimes only starts out as a very vague concept and somehow make that into a big book! It can be very fun, but like anything, it has challenges too. But that’s what makes it so rewarding in the end! You solve problems and figure out bits of your story that do and don’t work, and then eventually you have a finished book. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
As for Greek Mythology and why mix that with tween/teen life, well, I love Greek Mythology (our whole team loves it!) so I’ve always known that I wanted to play in that sandbox someday and explore mythology in my own way. And I got to do that here with Insha and Juliana! We felt it would be really fun to give a fresh, modern take on the gods and goddesses and introduce them to readers who may or may not already know about the lore. We wanted to share our love for it with younger generations.
Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
Another really excellent question! Kat Leyh worked on Lumberjanes but also has a book called Snapdragon that’s really great. Emma Steinkellner created a fun book that I really enjoyed called The Okay Witch. And I’m about to dig into the new book called Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty and Steph Mided.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Don’t ever write for someone else; write for yourself first and foremost. Be your own biggest fan and write whatever makes you happy. Tell the stories that you’d want to read!
What do you like best about being an author?
Everything! But seriously, there’s so many wonderful parts to writing, especially graphic novels. I love collaborating with artists on a story; you write something and then someone takes those words and builds an entire world out of what you wrote. To me, that’s magic! I suppose that’s a bit more of what I enjoy about the writing process though. What I like about being an author is when people (and especially young people like you!) pick up our books and read them. With Oh My Gods! we wrote a story that we loved, and the best thing ever is when someone reads it and it resonates with them too.
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
I was just talking about this with a friend, but this is a hard question because so many worlds are full of terrifying situations (like Lord of the Rings and Mordor!) I guess though, I’d love to maybe live in Narnia! Or even the alternate universe that Lyra lives in in The Golden Compass. I love the idea of having animal companions that are an extension of our soul; it’s such an amazing concept! And then selfishly for my own world, I love what I’ve created in my upcoming book ParaNorthern. I’m super proud of that one and the world we built, and any place that has magic would be wonderful to me.