Tamsin Cooke SCHOOLGIRL BY DAY, CAT BURGLAR BY NIGHT, really?
Welcome Tamsin to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you very much for taking the time out to answer some questions about your writing career and your latest book Cat Burglar. This is due to hit the shops on 7th January and will be published by OUP. If you would like to read the brilliant first chapter read it Here.
Who would love reading The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar, and why?
I think both girls and boys aged 9+ would love to read Cat Burglar. It’s fast paced and full of adventure and humour. There are daring heists, mystical happenings and exciting characters.
Give us an insight into the main character, Scarlet McCall?
Scarlet is an ordinary schoolgirl by day (trying to blend into the background, not making friends) but at night she is a trainee cat burglar. She and her father are on a mission to return priceless treasures to their rightful owners. Scarlet is brave and feisty but has huge issues around trust. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, apart from her father. She’s desperate to prove herself to him.
What tips do you have for a would-be Cat Burglar?
You need to keep a low profile – you can’t let people get too close in case they learn your secrets.
You need to be very fit – able to scale walls and run away from guard dogs.
If you have a fear of heights, you probably shouldn’t go into this line of work!
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
I’m always on the lookout for stories about heists. And I like seeing how people have managed to get into buildings. Scarlet and her father have poached some of the more elaborate ways to access a house.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Whenever I need a break from writing, I go into my kitchen and pull down the blinds. Then I put on my headphones and dance. I’ve been known to dance for an hour non-stop!
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How many rubbish cat burglars there are!
Two men decided to paint masks on their faces with permanent marker rather than wear balaclavas. Funnily enough, the police managed to catch two men covered in fading felt-tip.
A burglar was upstairs when the family came home. He managed to stay quiet until the husband told a funny joke. The burglar burst out laughing, giving himself away!
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
It took me twelve years to get published. Certain things helped me get better - mainly practice and listening to what professionals had to say. I got so many rejection letters, but luckily they often included gems of advice. The literary agents could see where I was going wrong. When I first got these rejection letters, the temptation was to rage and throw them away. But after I got over the initial devastation, what they told me proved to be invaluable. So I would say - listen to constructive criticism from professionals.
At the same time – keep believing in yourself. No one can tell your story as well as you can.
What helps you be creative?
I pay attention to my dreams. I go for dog walks on my own (well - I do take my dog!) and just let my mind wander. If my story isn’t working and I’m stuck going round in circles, I’ll take a shower. I don’t know how it works – but having the hot water drip down my head unlocks ideas. On some days, I am very, very clean!
What question have you never been asked in an interview?
Am I writing from experience? Have I ever been a cat burglar?
Obviously there is no way I can answer that!!!! ;)