Catching up with the wonderful Pam at Better Read than Dead in Newtown
Several years ago I made a fascinating discovery. Author, podcaster and all-round lovely lady Pamela Cook and I had a family connection. You see my second cousin is married to Pam's nephew. Talk about a small world.
Since then, I have had the pleasure of meeting Pam in person on several occasions, at book launches for her own novels or the novels written by her fabulous writing group, The Inkwell, whose talented members include Joanna Nell, Penelope Janu, Rae Cairns, Michelle Barraclough, Terri Green, Angella Whitton & Laura Boon. The highlight of 2019 was attending the inaugural StoryFest https://www.storyfest.org.au/ writer's festival, of which Pam was a director. Sadly Covid saw it being cancelled last year but I am crossing my fingers that this year it will be back, bigger than ever on June 18-20 in picturesque Milton on the NSW South Coast.
With a fabulous back catalogue of books published by Hachette, I have not long finished reading Pam's first foray in the world of self-publishing, the heart-tugging novel All We Dream https://www.pamelacook.com.au/product/all-we-dream/ It is an enchanting, multi-generational story that will have you falling in love with feisty recluse Esther Wilson, getting hot under the collar over strapping Vincent Kennedy (who doesn't love a man on a horse!!) and cheering on Miranda as she attempts to unravel a dark family secret, while on the cusp of marriage.
I didn't want this story to end. As I turned the last page I was like 'NOOOOO!!! I want to find out what happens next!' Maybe if we ask nicely Pam will write us an epilogue??? Hint hint.
Well, without further ado, I will hand you over the to fabulous Pam.xx
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: My very first manuscript was a literary fiction novel that took me 6 years to write. I then wrote the draft of my first published novel Blackwattle Lake https://www.pamelacook.com.au/product/blackwattle-lake/ in a month (Nanowrimo), so I would probably advise getting it done faster! It’s easy to get bogged down trying to make everything perfect. Now I try to get the first draft done in a fairly short period of time and once the story is down, I have something to work with. Also remember, your first novel might never be published but the important thing is to keep going.
(Wise words I will try to remember Pam. Shelley.xx)
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?
A: I’m going to cheat and pick two. I LOVED both The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland and Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Alice Hart has one of the best opening lines I’ve ever read: In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at the desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire. It’s the perfect blend of character, tension and symbolism and says so much so simply. The rest of the book follows suit – and of course there is that divine cover.
Crawdads has the most beautifully described setting and is a fabulous genre mix of women’s fiction, mystery and crime all wrapped up in a page-turning storyline. Oh, and I’ll throw in Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier for obvious reasons. (Oops that was three!)
(I agree that Holly's opening lines are brilliant, visceral, and the only book opening I can quote word for word. Shelley.xx)
Pam's office, where the magic happens!
3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: I remember that moment very clearly: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner. Apologies for the spoiler but when that tree fell on Judy and broke her back, I was completely traumatised. Could be why I love stories with a good dose of angst to this day. Seven Little Australians actually gets a mention in my latest release.
Q4: What is your favourite drink? Coffee, tea, wine or…
A: Champagne. There’s something about that pop and fizz that makes me smile. And that’s before I’ve even had a glass. I do love a nice chilled rosé too and prefer tea to coffee.
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: My TBR just keeps growing! I read a lot of books written by my author friends and also read to prep for the Writes4Women podcast so there are books constantly arriving in the mail, which is lovely. Currently on top of my pile is Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason. I’ve heard so much about it I can’t wait to dive in!
Pam and her beautiful bestie Kath ❤
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: Ooh, I love this question. For my main character Miranda, (a just-turned-thirty solicitor who uncovers a family secret) I would definitely go with Lily James. I adored her in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and she did a fabulous job of portraying the second Mrs De Winter, in Rebecca. She’s the right age and has exactly the right hair to play Miranda. The main male character in the book is Vincent (a down-to-earth horse trainer who the soon-to-be-married Miranda has an instant attraction to). I can’t go past Henry Cavill – the wavy-haired five-o’clock shadow version.
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: Apart from my family, I’d have to say my dogs. They are wonderful company, occasionally drive me nuts but always make me smile.
Pam and her darling boy Teddy
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: Paris. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite extensively and while there are many places I’d love to re-visit Paris will always be top of the list. I’ve been there four times, the last trip being a surprise visit my husband organised for our thirtieth wedding anniversary a couple of years back. There’s just something about the place – the ambience of the older arrondissements, the history, the food, the cakes, the river. The last two visits have been in winter and it’s now my favourite time of year there. The beautiful pale-bright light, the bare trees, sipping café au lait in quaint cafes. Ahhh! I’d love to go on a writing retreat there – or maybe organise one! Must add that to my to-do list once Covid is over (fingers crossed that will be very soon).
(Your hubby sounds like a keeper Pam! Paris is on my bucket list. Shelley.xx)
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: Practically speaking I can’t go past teaching. I spent 16 years teaching secondary school English and have taught creative writing for over a decade. There’s nothing like seeing someone switch on to a concept or idea. And helping emerging writers develop their skills brings me true joy.
If we’re talking pie-in-the-sky careers I’d be a country singer, a la Carrie Underwood or Faith Hill. I adore country music: the way the songs tell a story and are either filled with utter heartbreak or pure joy. Spending my days writing music and singing would be sublime. Not to mention those western boots. There is a small matter of me really only being a shower singer…
Q10: What's the hardest scene you have ever written and why was it so hard?
A: There’s a scene in Cross My Heart https://www.pamelacook.com.au/product/cross-my-heart/ where the main character Tess is giving a eulogy for her childhood best friend. My best friend, Kathie, died five years ago after a horrible battle with MND, and writing that scene took me straight back to her funeral. While it was so, so hard to write, the genuine emotion in the scene definitely makes it stronger and it was also a way of processing her loss. The situation of the two characters in the book is totally different but writing about besties was inspired by our forty-year friendship and I dedicated the book to her. The photo is one of the two of us taken a couple of years before she died. So many special memories.
(Friendships are one of life's most precious gifts. Sounds like you and Kath had a beautiful one Pam. Shelley.xx)
A forgotten necklace. A family secret. Two women hiding from the truth.
When successful Sydney lawyer Miranda McIntyre searches for something old to go with her wedding dress, she remembers an antique necklace from her childhood. Her mother’s denial of its existence only deepens Miranda’s curiosity but the discovery of a faded wedding photo and an old newspaper clipping reveal long-buried family secrets.
Who is the woman in the photo? And why are these keepsakes hidden in her mother’s closet?
Miranda’s quest for the truth takes her on a road trip south to the idyllic seaside village of Pelican Point where she stumbles upon a secluded cliff-top cottage and the reclusive Esther Wilson. As Miranda begins to unravel the mystery, a tale of daring rescue, forbidden love and shocking betrayal unfolds.
Meeting enigmatic horse trainer Vincent Kennedy forces Miranda to question the life she has worked so hard to create, throwing into turmoil everything she thought she knew about the past and about herself.
A multi-generational story of family, hope and following your heart.
Pamela Cook is an author, podcaster and teacher. Her stories feature complex women and fraught family relationships. She has had four novels published with Hachette Australia, Blackwattle Lake, Essie’s Way, Close To Home and The Crossroads and published her first independent title, Cross My Heart in 2019.
Her latest release All We Dream is a revised edition of Essie’s Way. Pamela is the co-host of Writes4Women, a podcast focusing on women and writing, and a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organization that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. An experienced teacher, she has taught writing courses and workshops for the last fifteen years. When she’s not writing she wastes as much time as possible riding Rio, her handsome quarter horse.
Thank you Pam for being my February 15th Author Stalker victim. xx
All We Dream is available on her website or via online booksellers.
If you would like to find out more about Pamela, you can find her here: