Byron Easy by Jude Cook

Jude Cook opens up about his new release Byron Easy

December 2013 — An Exclusive Authorlink Interview

By Columnist Doreen Akiyo Yomoah

Byron Easy
by Jude Cook

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Jude Cook opens up about his new release Byron Easy, being a morning person, and his wild days as a musician.


“. . .  I wrote my first novel when I was 13. I was born to be a writer . . . “

AUTHORLINK: Were you born to be a writer? Is it something that you’ve always done?

COOK: Well, I used to be a musician, but I wrote my first novel when I was 13. I was born to be a writer, it’s always been there. When I was doing music, I was a songwriter; I was expressing myself through lyrics rather than prose or fiction. But throughout those band days [Cooke was in called The Flamingoes] I was always writing short stories and various other things.

AUTHORLINK: How did you learn how to develop your writing? Through studying, writers’ groups, or workshops?

COOK: I’ve never been on a creative writing course, but I’m not against them. I just read a lot and wrote a lot, which I suppose is how people did it in the days before the creative writing “industry.” I’m doing work for a literacy consultancy. I’m doing some editing for them. [I] get sent manuscripts, so basically I’m teaching writing, just not face to face. I think the best writers are self-reliant and they do that themselves.

“I keep huge folders of notes on everything- characters, chunks of prose. . .”

AUTHORLINK: How do you begin a novel?

COOK:Planning. I think a lot of novelists like to just jump in with a dramatic situation and a couple of characters. I plan to an extent that it’s overprescribed and over determined. I keep huge folders of notes on everything- characters, chunks of prose, it’s what I mean about [writing a novel] being like a mosaic. Maybe it’s not a good thing, it’d be great to just sit at the typewriter like Kerouac and blaze away, but that’s never been my method.

“The book’s in the English comic tradition-making comedy out of situations that are quite tragic .”

AUTHORLINK: Without giving too much away about Byron Easy, what has happened to our protagonist, Byron, to get him to the point of suicidal ideation?

COOK: Well, there’re a lot of things he’s not facing up to. He’s had a bad experience in his marriage, his writing career is going nowhere, and there’s a lot in his past that he hasn’t faced up to. Not just in his recent past but back in his upbringing: his mother, his father. It’s a therapy session he’s performing on himself, The book’s in the English comic tradition–making comedy out of situations that are quite tragic or not funny, like Charles Dickens, Martin Amis, and now Zadie Smith. The situations are quite heavy.

AUTHORLINK: Is Byron Easy a fictionalized personal story, based on things you’ve gone through, or a conglomeration of things people you know have gone through?

COOK: It’s a conglomeration; it can never just be one self. It wouldn’t stand up as any kind of ordered piece. It would just be rewriting a diary which is never edifying. There is a lot of me and a lot of other books as well in a way.

AUTHORLINK: What’s next for you?

COOK: The novel I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to finish that by the end of the year. Also, Random House is interested in some short stories, as well, so we’ll see what we go for.

About the Author:

JUDE COOK lives in London. He studied English Literature at UCL, and was a musician and songwriter for the band Flamingoes. Byron Easy is his first novel.

About Doreen Akiyo Yomoah:

Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is a nomadic freelance writer, currently living in London, England.