Interview with William J. Cook, Author of Before Our House Fell Into The Ocean

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Before Our House Fell Into The Ocean?

Writing this book has been one of the ways I’ve been coping with the death of my older son two years ago. Grief has been my daily companion, and I’ve wanted to learn from it without wallowing in it. I’m pleased that the book has turned out to be, in the words of The US Review of Books, “a life-affirming collection.”  

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Before Our House Fell Into The Ocean, what would they be?

For young Sonny in the story Widowmaker, it would be I’m So Excited by the Pointer Sisters. For Gary in Gargoyle, it would be Creep by Radiohead. For John Frost in The Chess Player, it would be Bad Guy by Billie Eilish. Joey in Coffee would be right at home with Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon or perhaps Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane. Jimmy in The Girl on the Boardwalk would be singing Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco. Charley Whitehorse in the story Paper would insist upon Best Day of My Life by American Authors. Truth be told, there are a dozen stories in the book, with several dozen characters, so this is just a sampling.  

If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?

A blurb for the last book I’ve read would be for Disaster Inc. by Caimh McDonnell: Overweight, underpaid, and often intoxicated Irish detective Bunny McGarry is up to his eyeballs in alligators when he secretly comes to the United States to find a missing woman. Before he knows it, he is rescued by a dominatrix plying her trade to pay her way through law school, befriended by a dwarf who may or may not have stolen his wallet and cell phone, and targeted by the most vicious female assassin in recent memory. Disaster Inc. is a laugh-out-loud, page-turning thriller not to be missed.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

My favorite genre would be mystery/thrillers with a decidedly comic and quirky bent. Books by Caimh McDonnell, Joe Barrett, and Carl Hiaasen are at the top of my list. I’m also very happy with the debut novel by indie author Wesley S. Lewis.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write Before Our House Fell Into The Ocean?

I do all my writing at my desk by the window in our dining area. On the desk is a sign that reads “WINE! BECAUSE NO GREAT STORY EVER STARTED WITH SOMEONE EATING A SALAD.” There’s also a candle labeled “Man Cave,” a Sigmund Freud action figure, and two Star Trek communicators, one from the original show and one from The Next Generation. Two coffee mugs also decorate the space, one featuring the B-24 Bomber my father flew during World War II, and the other displaying the logo of the Northwest Independent Writers Association.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”  

William J. Cook is the author of the new book Before Our House Fell into the Ocean

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