Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Eileen Cook author The Hanging Girl (and a giveaway)


the hanging girl

The Hanging Girl

By: Eileen Cook

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

1) Your character Skye gives tarot card readings (and is able to read and manipulate people while giving them). What research did you do into tarot cards, body language, or reading people before writing THE HANGING GIRL? What would a tarot card reading for you done by Skye look like? If you had to pick a tarot card to describe you, which would it be?


One of the things I enjoy best about the writing process is the chance to do research. I love learning things. Sometimes this can become a procrastination technique – I’ve spent days learning things that were totally random. (Did you know more people are killed by falling vending machines than by sharks? It means scoring a Diet Coke is riskier than you imagined.)  With this book, I felt if I was going to write a character who read tarot then I felt it was something that I needed to understand – which makes it useful research not a time waster. Reading the future was so important to Skye and her mom. I wouldn’t say I’m very good at it- but I did like learning about the history of tarot and the meanings of different cards. I also learned the importance of paying attention to the person you’re giving a reading to- they tell you as much (or more) than the cards.

If Skye were to give a reading, I picture her being very matter of fact about the process. She does it to make money, so she’s well aware that people pay to hear news that they want and don’t become repeat customers if you aren’t telling them what they want.

If I were to pic a Tarot card for myself I might go with The Hanging Man- I like the idea of being a person who sees things in a new way- it strikes me as a very valuable skill for a writer!

2) What are some questions you still have for your characters (or for the world you created) that you didn’t get the chance to address? Are there any questions you would ask your character that would be especially revealing?


I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Skye makes a choice at the end of the book. It was a choice I struggled with because I didn’t think it was the “right” thing to do, but it felt like what Skye would choose. I decided that I had to be honest to who she was as a character, but I would love to ask her about if she has any regrets.


The other character that I loved writing was Drew. She and Skye have a complicated friendship. I would love to know what she thinks of what happened in the book. I feel she could star in her own novel.



3) Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for THE HANGING GIRL?


I went to a conference put on by The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry with my husband. They’re a group of people who use science to investigate various topics- including psychics. The session I went to covered how easy it is to fool someone into believing you have psychic ability.  I found that fascinating and filed away the information knowing it would be useful for a character. I started thinking about who would fake this kind of thing and why.  I knew there was a book there, but I didn’t know what it would be.

The second bit of inspiration came after talking to a good friend about lies. I started to think about a character who tells a lie (for a good reason) and how that leads to more lies, until she is in so deep that she has no idea how to get free. I think many people have told a lie to try and make a situation better, that ended up leading to more trouble. (Hopefully not as much trouble as it got the main character, Skye, into!)


4) What is next for you? What are your currently working on?


I am really excited for my new project. (New projects are always extra exciting because you haven’t hit all the problems yet.) It’s currently called Strangers and it’s about two girls who meet on a flight to London. This chance meeting changes everything for both of them, but not in the way that the main character, Kim, expected. Things take a dark turn once they are in London and Kim has to decide what she’s capable of doing to keep herself and those she cares about safe. I loosely used Alfred Hitchcock’s film Strangers on a Train as an inspiration.

Eileen Cook grew up in a small town in Michigan, but would go on to live in Boston and Belgium before settling in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two very naughty dogs.

In second grade Eileen’s teacher wrote on a homework assignment “I am sure someday you will be an author” which is a tribute to the psychic abilities of elementary school teachers, as well as Eileen penchant for making things up. While she would go on to fill endless notebooks with really bad poetry, short stories, and the occasional start to a novel, she would first go on to pursue a career as a counsellor working with individuals with catastrophic injuries and illness.

Eileen quickly discovered that the challenge of working with real people is that they have real problems and she returned to writing where she could make her characters do what she wanted. Her first novel was published in 2008. Entertainment Weekly called her novel WITH MALICE a “seriously creepy thriller” which pretty much made her entire year.

When not planning murder and mayhem on the computer, Eileen enjoys reading, knitting, yelling at her dogs to stop digging holes and watching hockey (which she is required to do as a new Canadian.)

Eileen is a popular speaker at conferences both in the US and in Canada, provides writing/editorial coaching, and is a mentor/instructor for the Simon Fraser University TheWriter’s Studio.

Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Photo Content from Eileen Cook

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Jean Book Nerd Tours.

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