New Glen Cook Interview


I know many of you have been waiting for this one, so here it is!

I've been meaning to interview Glen Cook ever since I read Chronicles of the Black Company (Canada, USA, Europe). And I'm just about done with The Books of the South (Canada, USA, Europe), so the timing couldn't be better!

Enjoy!
------------------------

- Without giving anything away, what can you tell you readers about your Black Company sequence?

It could be a generational thing or some different way of looking at what writers do, but I don’t understand this questions at all. The books are there. They are the answer. What could be given away? What else needs to be said?

Maybe you could clarify what you are asking.

- How satisfying is it to see both the Black Company and The Books of the South being reissued as omnibus editions by Tor Books two decades after their initial release? What about the Dread Empire omnibus editions from Night Shade Books?

I really loathed the Black Company omnibus idea. The books were all in print, all the time, in a format that fit peoples’ bookshelves. But they have been successful commercially. The first one has been through five printings already. The Night Shade Dread Empire omnibuses I favored because they were bringing into print books that had been gone for years.

- Will the Glittering Stone sequence get the same treatment in the near future?

I don’t know. A lot of my stuff I find out about when someone asks me to sign a copy.

- What can you tell potential readers about the Instrumentalities of the Night series? Are there any sequels in the works?

The setting of the series is a sort of alternate 13th century Europe shaped by counterfactual geography and the presence of ambient magical energy that makes possible the existence of all gods and devils. It’s also an experiment with a picaresque plot. In addition to the 2 published titles there will be SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF THE NIGHT (done and turned in) and WORKING THE GODS’ MISCHIEF, which is about halfway done.

- Tell us more about your Garrett P. I. novels.

Pretty vague query. The books are American P. I. but set in the fantasy city of TunFaire, where all Garrett’s cases involve the fantastic.

- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller.

I don’t know if I have an answer. I don’t think about that kind of stuff. Some people tell me it’s plot, others character.

- If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the younger Glen Cook concerning his writing career?

Use all the money he makes to buy Microsoft stock. And maybe to be nicer to his wife. Being married to a writer isn‘t easy.

- The Black Company saga has gained what can best be described as a cult following. Since it never became “mainstream”, how rewarding is it to realize how successful the series has been and continues to be to this day?

This was one of those queries I don’t quite get. I do like the fact that the Black Company series has never been out of print. I am particularly pleased that it has done remarkably well overseas, whence most of my writing income springs.

- What was the spark that generated the idea that drove you to write the Black Company books in the first place?

There was no special spark. I get ideas. I write some of them. The only thing unusual here was that the viewpoint started out as that of “the bad guys.”

- Characters often take on a life of their own. Which of your characters do you find the most unpredictable to write about?

The inhabitants of the Garrett Files series are the most willful and rambunctious. When they get moving I just sit back and let them run. They never go where I think they should when I start. Not one of those books is the one I set out to write.

- Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out each Black Company series?

(There is only one Black Company series. The subtitle crap was made up by the publisher) No. Other than to tell the story from the viewpoint of the grunts, which was not some conscious Wow! Wouldn’t this be a kickass twist? kind of decision. I’ve never seen the Black Company series as especially different. Some people seem to disagree.

- In retrospect, is it safe to say that the genre wasn’t quite ready for the Black Company sequence in the mid 80s? Fantasy was dominated by powerhouses such as David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and Raymond E. Feist at the time. Looking back, was your series too avante-garde in style and tone?

Another question I don’t understand. The world must have been ready for whatever people see as different because they never went out of print and my editors constantly carped at me to write faster. The books are still selling well. How about those other guys?

- You have been writing novels and short stories for over three decades. What has changed the most in the fantasy genre since you began your career?

I don’t know, except maybe the guys who made their names rewriting LORD OF THE RINGS aren’t doing so well these days. I’m no J. D. Salinger but neither do I pay attention to what others are doing. I write books. I send them to my agent. He finds somebody to publish them. Oh. I have noticed that books got a lot fatter for a while, but now they’re slimming down.

- Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the Black Company books, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intentions? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the three series?

After thinking about it for several days I think I have figured out what you’re asking here. Firstly, the Black Company started out to be a single book, that would be a novel made up of a series of novelettes. Only one of those got published independently before my agent sold the book to Tor. The editor there did not like the characters at all. But she said she couldn’t get the book out of her head. So we got drunk and rowdy and worked out an agreement that I would make it a trilogy. But the time I finished THE WHITE ROSE I knew where the story would go from there, vaguely, all the way to the end of GLITTERING STONE. Which I expected to be one book the size of the others, but which needed six, some very fat.

I do not outline. I usually start out with a vague notion of where I want to get and let the interactions of my characters get me there.

- Many fantasy writers don’t read within the genre. Is it the case with you? If not, what authors make you shake your head in admiration?

Other than Steven Erikson I read nothing that resembles what I write. Fantasy folk whose books I attack the day they come out include Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, and Tamora Pierce.

- More and more, authors/editors/publicists/agents are discovering the potential of the all SFF blogs/websites/message boards on the internet. Do you keep an eye on what is being discussed out there, especially if it concerns you? Or is this too much of a distraction?

No. I don’t think I could figure out how to go find something like that, anyway. It sounds like a huge waste of time all round. When I have time to fritter I watch a ball game, CSI, or maybe indulge one of my secret vices, like Power Rangers or InuYasha. Or I read a book.

- Cover art has become a very hot topic of late. What are your thoughts pertaining to that facet of a novel, and what do you think of the covers that grace your books?

I generally hold my nose and try not to cry too much. You have no control. If you’re really lucky you get an art director who will let you use Vaseline when he bends you over. That said, I have had some fine covers. The Hildebrandts on the first 6 Garrett books. The covers for the French first editions of the Black Company books by Didier Graffet are genius. The covers for the first 6 Black Company books here, because they were painted by a very good friend. Though they’re a little primitive they do have some actual connection with what is inside. A few others.
Generally speaking, cover art is worse overseas.

- L. E. Modesitt, Jr., once claimed that Tom Doherty is one of the most under appreciated men in fantasy. Do you agree with his assessment?

I wouldn’t know if Tom is under appreciated by others. I love the man myself. He and his crew have been very good to me. He seems to have brought forward a goodly number of both excellent writers and writers who have been big commercial successes.

- Honestly, do you believe that the fantasy genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.

For me this is a great steaming shovel full of I don’t care. Good stuff will stick around. Not so good won’t. Some professor pulling his intellectual pud over it isn’t relevant. Jack London and Charles Dickens, Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, were all hacks. And they’re all in print today. And, for the most part, still scorned by the mutual masturbators of the literati.
From my seat high on the mountainside I think too many people associated with fantasy take the whole thing far too seriously. A failing of Americans in general. We all seem to be able to find a thing or two that we will insist on taking too seriously.

- How would you like to be remembered as an author? What is the legacy you’ll leave behind?

Continuing the “too seriously” theme, the answer here is, I really don’t care. I hope there’ll be enough residual royalties to provide some extra income for my wife. Otherwise, I expect to go the way of Bulwer-Lyton … although, come to think, he did bequeath us “It was a dark and stormy night.” Maybe there is something like that somewhere in my stuff.

- What project will you be tackling next?

Projects in hand include the final Instrumentalities book, WORKING THE GODS’ MISCHIEF, the next Garrett novel, working title GILDEN LATTEN LOVE(RS), a new Dread Empire novel, working title A PATH TO COLDNESS OF HEART, and a Black Company novel entitled PORT OF SHADOWS.

- Anything you wish to share with your fans?

Thank you. Stop taking it so damned seriously. And get out there and buy backup copies of my stuff. I have kids in college.

108 commentaires:

Shane said...

I like this guy's style.
Pat, how about some new questions?

Dream Girlzzz said...

I like his style too!

And I like those questions when it's the first interview with a writer. They allow us to compare authors by their answers.

For example, the last few interviews with Bakker go quite deep. Too deep for someone who never read PoN to understand and enjoy the Q&A.

This format is meant to let the author introduce himself and his work. So it can attract new readers.

At least that's why I think Pat usually go for that sort of questions when he interviews someone the first time...

It felt kind of odd that Cook didn't get some of the questions though...

Damaen said...

I get the impression he hates your questions. Or being bother by "kids" on "teh interwebs, whatever those are"

Shane said...

The questions are fine, really. It's just that when you send out a set list of questions for someone to answer its not really an interview at all, its about as informative as a Myspace survey. If Pat was actually talking to these authors we'd get a lot more out of them.

Anonymous said...

This guy comes across as a total asshole in this interview and I won't be purchasing any of his books. If I care enough I'd probably pirate one and see if it's any good.

But really, I think if he were going to adopt this kind of I-have-my-ass-too-far-up-head-to-hear-you attitude he shouldn't have done the interview.

Marc said...

I knew it! There's going to be a new Dread Empire novel to follow up An Ill Fate Marshalling! That's why the The Wrath of Kings omnibus was delayed. This made my day! Thanks for sharing this Q&A session Pat!

Anonymous said...

Of course I meant ass to far up his head...

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, don't you dare change the format!

For starters, it gave us gems like the Peter Watts and Hal Duncan interviews! Also, this format introduced me to SFF writers like Sanderson, Lynch, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Ruckley, Edelman, Duncan, Erikson, Bakker, Novik, Kearney, Durham, and many more.

As for more "meaty" stuff for a "seasoned" author like Cook as was mentioned on Westeros, funny how bestselling authors like Hobb, Williams, Donaldson, Card, GRRM and more were able to come up with in depth answers...

Truth is, there is an entire generation of SFF fans who have never read the Black Company books. Many of them have probably never heard of Glen Cook. This was an opportunity for the guy to introduce himself and his body of work to a vast audience, and I think he kind of missed the boat.

Still have to admit that I like his style!;)

Keep up the good work!

Brandon

Ryan said...

Cook's always kind of an asshole when I read quotes from him - but I don't care. I love his books. I don't need to like the guy as himself. To Marc - about Dread Empire, I remember reading something somewhere that he had written another book but the manuscript was stolen from his house and he was too pissed about that to ever write another, but if there's more then it looks all good!

Mike said...

Waaaa Hoooo! A new Dread Empire.
About time. This interview just made my year. I've been waiting for this for over 10 years since I first discovered him.

Glen's pretty old school for you people that were surprised by the tone of his answers.

He's always just done his own thing and never been concerned about what the rest of the genre is doing. Hence I'm not at all surprised by the tone of the interview.

Thanks for interviewing him Pat. You really need to check his Dread Empire books when you get a chance.

Anonymous said...

I think the questions were fine. Glen was the one being a little bit of an ass with the answers. He seems interested in making money, he could have done more to get his name out in a positive way. That being said, I don't know why, but I like him.

Marc said...

Ryan, the manuscript was stolen by a "fan" who visited him circa 1988. I have been speculating for the past few months that either the manuscript was recovered, or that Cook was recreating it. This makes it suggest that he is recreating it, to give some closure to a series that is back in print and selling at least reasonably well (the paperback of A Cruel Wind is on to its 2nd printing).

I wonder when Nightshade will finally announce the Wrath of Kings omnibus, now with the never before published conclusion?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that guy comes across as an asshole. More like a guy who couldn't really be bothered to give some thought to many of the answers.

I get the feeling that he thought he was doing an interview with a small fry site, not one of the most popular SFF blogs on the internet.

As Brandon said, it looks as though Cook missed out on an opportunity to market himself to a big audience of fantasy readers who may never have read a book from him.

It's his loss in the end...

Jacob

Paul D said...

If you've ever read any Bill James interviews, this sort of comes off like him. Not very introspective, despite how interested and influential he is.

droidprogrammer said...

I find Glen Cook's views and opinions a breath of fresh air. I have been reading his books for about 13 years now, and although I was slightly disappointed with glittering stone, i did Love the new omnibus of the Dread Empire. I can only hope they do the same thing with Garret PI as I am unsure if those books were ever released in Canada. At least I couldn't find them.

I am sure Mr Cook got the questions, he probably thought that were a bit pompous. Remember he wrote most of his stuff while he was working the line at GM (I think it was GM). So just remember great ideas come from ever where!

As for coming across like an Asshole, well I am sure he doesn't really care. His books have been in print almost as long as some of the best authors ever have been alive. The new darker fantasy, the anti heroes, the common man as a primary character, the lack of elves and dragons, well they were started by Cook

Larry said...

Well, here's a different interview with him. I'll leave it up to others to judge his demeanor between the two.

Jebus said...

Best interview ever. Keep or change the questions all you want Pat, when we get answers like that the questions barely matter (and I agree with Cook on many of his opinions).

First interview I actually read through twice and LOLd at. I'm gonna have the read the rest of his books even though I was kinda ho-hum about the first BC omnibus.

Michael Llaneza said...

Cook sounds like he's a rarity, a fantasy writer who isn't part of the "community" at all. The term "outsider art" might apply, if using that phrase didn't invite ridicule and humiliation from everyone who's ever worked for a living. There's an interview out there somewhere in which Cook says he kept his day job because his family needed health insurance; even Stephen King would consider health insurance for a with and 4 kids to be expensive. With that in mind, he's worked his whole career around taking care of his family. Good on him.

He also sounds like someone who's said "Get off my lawn !" in anger. It probably helps keep his blood pressure down, and I'm hoping for 15 or 20 more years of his output. I can't believe he has 4 books under way. I'll be grabbing each and every one as soon as they come out.

And as for Jacob, so what if this is one of the most popular SF&F blogs on the net, I hadn't heard about it until I was linked her on a mailing list. And get off my lawn !

Anonymous said...

I'm a big Glen Cook fan (ever since discovering the Dread Empire books in the early '80s), but have to agree he comes across as, at best, a crusty old curmudgeon, and, at worst, an asshole. It won't stop me from reading more of his stuff, though...

Casey said...

Haha, loved the interview! I didn't think he came off as an asshole, just as someone who was filling out a questionnaire. If the interview was conducted with an actual person I think you'd get a bit more warmth. Good to hear we have more Dread Empire coming.

Chris said...

Actually, I've heard from the people at Tor, that there will be two omnibuses of the glittering stone released in the fall of this year. Not much help to me in the UK as Tor don't own the rights, but hell I'd fly to the US just to get them.

droidprogrammer said...

Hey Chris, Stop complaining, i actually buy books on the UK amazon site and have them mailed here to Canada,Curse you guys with your months early releases

Joel said...

Yeah, he seems like an ornery cuss, but I'd still love to meet him. And I'll continue to buy his books, which occupy way to much space in my house as is

But he should think about self marketing a little better - this is the site which introduced me to him, and I now own about 12 of his books and proselytise hard for him. A bit of love in the other direction for Pat wouldn't go amiss (this can't just be me!)

Josh said...

I got about two-thirds of the way through and quit. I'd say he phoned it in, but that's giving him too much credit. Not Pat's fault. But I have to agree with those who thought Cook came across as a real asshole.

Ray said...

Over the years I've always wondered why there were so few Glen Cook interviews out there. Judging by the tone of this Q&A, it's easy to understand why.

Too bad, for the man had the chance to elaborate on a number of topics, and I for one would have loved more in depth answers from him.

Still, the Black Company rules!!!

kompan said...

he writes books. he's not an actor or popstar. maybe he likes his privacy more than fame and glamour (yeah mr g.r.r.martin i'm talking about you)

Cecrow said...

I've not read any of his work, and this doesn't encourage me to. I do hope he puts more effort into his novels than his interviews, although the total lack of outline and letting characters run willy-nilly doesn't sound promising.

Colinhead said...

That other interview has a considerably better tone to it. I was a little disappointed with some of his answers, but if he really doesn't think that much about his writing, how can he put that into words? Some writers are able to write from the gut and don't really know where it all comes from. If I hadn't already bought the first omnibus of The Black Company, though, I probably would be dropping it a few pegs on my 'to read' list, because the answers here are just not that interesting.

Anonymous said...

If nothing else at least he is going to be doing a new Dread Empire and Black Company book. Thanks Pat for that.

tomas said...

Dude, I wished you'd asked what was happening with the last book of the "Instrumentalities of the Night" series. Two great books out bam blam and now nothing. I want to cry.

Amy said...

Tomas: There are two more volumes on the way... Didn't you read this through?

As a potential reader, I have to say that this interview was offputting. Considering some of the great interviews Pat came up with with basically the same set of questions, I think Cook never really tried to come up with good answers. Too bad. . .

Anonymous said...

Funny, but when he asks if those other fantasy writers from the 80s are still in print, doesn't Cook know that someone like Feist outsells him by a margin of about 100 to 1???

Vic

Cyan said...

Wow. Sounds like a grumpy old man.

Don't care much for his books, either. At least, I got partway through the first Instrumentalities book and gave up.

Maybe Black Company is better. Don't know if I'll bother finding out now, though.

Shawn C. Speakman said...

I find it amusing he seems to think Terry Brooks doesn't sell well any more when he was #2 on the bestseller list in 2008. haha A bit out of touch, perhaps?

Warranted, I'm Terry's webmaster so I know that information, but still...

And I agree with others. He missed his chance to land me as a reader with his answers. Oh well, other authors to read!

Anonymous said...

Deciding which authors to read / not to read, based on a single fukking interview seems awfully stupid to me.

Hail G.C \o

Neth said...

Ha - I was very amused by this interview. It (probably) didn't turn out as Pat had hoped - but it's much more memorable for it.

Now if I can only get him for an interview over at Neth Space...

Anonymous said...

I'd chalk this up to Cook not grooving on the interview-by-email list-o'-questions format.

He sounds a lot more personable in the face-to-face interview that Larry linked to.

James said...

Yo Pat, you've got Wheeler and VanderMeer laughing it up.

Weird how some people are quick to forget that such questions made for some memorable interviews in the last few years...

What the fuck, right?

Joe Sherry said...

Shawn,

I think he might just not know how Feist / Eddings / Brooks are selling. Or care. It's not what he reads.

Granted, all three are still selling, but I think he has justifiable pride over his own work still being in print.

Patrick said...

Whoa!

I never thought this Q&A would generate so many responses!

Just to clarify: When I approached Tor Books about the possibility of doing an interview, Cook requested the email format.

Contrary to what some appear to believe, I don't feel bad about how the Q&A turned out. Truth be told, I laughed out loud on more than one occasion! I don't think that author came across as an asshole. I think he came across as Glen Cook.

Granted, self-promotion is certainly not Cook's strong suit. But you know what? It's his prerogative.

Did he miss out on an opportunity to elaborate on and introduce his various series to new fans? Sure. Yet I don't think he really cares a whole lot. He seems quite satisfied with his lot, and I guess that might explain why he didn't see why he should waste energy on this Q&A.

I've been doing this for 4 years now. Most people hanging around here should be aware that I'm opening doors to let authors take the ball and roll with it. Some do and some don't...

Some do it much better than others, true. Some take it across the court and we get a slam-dunk. Rarely, we get the kind of reverse windmill that Vince Carter fucked everyone up the ass with during one slam-dunk contest a few years back.

Though this Glen Cook interview was nowhere near as informative as it could have been, there are nevertheless some golden nuggets to be found. As I mentioned on a number of message boards, thems the breaks!

Let's face it: It's a pity, I know, but not every interview can be the kind of memorable Q&A that Peter Watts, Hal Duncan and R. Scott Bakker came up with.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree. It's still kinda promotion as he appeals to our cynical sides.
Everyone liked Glokta. Now you have opportunity to buy his books!

BTW, another Black Company book makes me say: YES!

Casey said...

Regardless of what everyone thought, look at all of the talk it has generated. I would have to say mission accomplished on Mr. Cook's side as I can imagine curiosity getting the better of anyone who thought he was an ass and got some new readers out of those of us who liked the cynical old man responses.

Christophe said...

Well, from what I could see it boiled down to "Give me money". At first I thought he was being humorous but it does seem to be his message.

It did remind me I'll have to check out his books at some point, if only because of the (distant ?) kinship with Erikson's.

Aaron said...

Glen Cook is NOT an asshole. I have met him on two occasions and he was the nicest and most down-to-earth author I have met. In interviews, he comes off a lot like Jack Vance used to. I think he believes some folks take it all too seriously. And I think the interviews would be better if each was 'tailor-made' for the author in question. Come on, Glen has been at this for a long time now. He is not some fresh faced young writer who came up in the times of Blatant Self Promotion on the net. Give him a break! Go read his books, not his interviews.

Anonymous said...

WTF???

For a guy who has never been able to rise above the lower tier midlist fantasy writer level, for a guy who had received so many accolades over the last two decades that the only thing to show for it on the Black Company omnibus is a quote from Erikson, for a guy who is all but unknown to a whole generation of SFF fans, I'd say Glen Cook has a pretty high opinion of himself...

Phil

Kevin said...

First off, let me just say that I've never cared much for Pat's review. I don't really like his style and that's that.

I mean no disrespect to Andrew Wheeler and Matt Staggs, but I believe Pat has posted some of the best damn SFF interviews out there since the creation of this blog. They are informative, reveal tidbits about the author's inspiration and little known facts, yada yada yada.

His interviews with Steven Erikson, R. Scott Bakker, C. S. Friedman, Ian McDonald, Hal Duncan, Scott Lynch, Alastair Reynolds, etc, are the best (in my opinion) one can find about these authors anywhere.

I like the "introductory" Q&A that he came up with, the one that allows fans and potential readers to learn more about an author and their books/series. Then Pat goes more in depth in subsequent interviews. As some people pointed out, I wouldn't want him to change this format.

I don't remember who said that, but it was claimed that Pat was unprepared. No way. It was more a case of Glen Cook not wanting to offer in depth responses. As others pointed out, this format resulted in some fantastic interviews in the past and will again in the future.

I've read all the BC books so far but I can't say I ever was a huge Glen Cook fan. And frankly, the way he speaks of himself would make you think that he's at the top of the bestseller lists. Far from it. His tone reminded me of a 8-17 clubfighter pumping himself up and telling everyone he would KO a true contender. Glen Cook has his fans, true, but he will never be more than a very minor footnote in the history of the genre. Not that he cares, but...

Larry said...

Phil,

Cook has appeared on the NYT Bestsellers list. As Cook himself said, his books have remained in print for over 20 years. Also, considering that Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin themselves have requested Cook submit a story for the upcoming Jack Vance tribute, I'd have to say he's well-regarded by many authors. Oh, and there's a few quotes from other authors around...if you look around more than just one moment.

tomas said...

It was tongue in cheek. I had nothing to complain about and everybody else was moaning about something.

Kevin said...

@Larry: Which of Cook's novel hit the NYT list. I've never seen any, and Tor would be quick to print it on all his novels if that was the case...

The fact that he is well regarded by other SFF writers is not an issue here. We're talking about the fact that he is being massively outsold by the authors mentioned in the interview question.

Larry said...

Kevin,

I saw it mentioned here, plus a search for the book in questions, Soldiers Live, reveals its positioning on the Locus bestsellers list.

Kevin said...

Could be wrong, but I can't find any indication that Soldiers Live ever hit the NYT list.

Some of the BC books were genre bestsellers (à la Locus list) but never hit it big on the major bestseller lists.

To be honest though, The Sword of Shannara alone probably outsold Cook's entire body of work. That's what irked me a bit from his answer to Pat's question. Saleswise, Cook was NEVER even near the numbers writers like Brooks, Feist, Weis and Hickman, and Eddings put up back then, or do now.

It doesn't take anything away from the man and his books. But it makes him look a bit silly when he comes out with an answer like this while he's being so incredibly outsold by the other authors. And yes, Mr. Cook, they are all still in print too!;)

Marc said...

Kevin, you're entirely missing the point. There was a time 25-30 years ago when much of what sold well in Fantasy was tired and/or uninspired rehashings of Tolkien. Cook is saying that stories of Elves and Dark Lords and quests to save the world, undertaken by unlikely mixed groups of heroes, are no longer held in high regard.

For all the success of The Sword of Shanara and the original Dragonlance books, for all that people read and enjoyed them (including me), they today are seen as derivative and uninspired, and not worthy of praise. Even Memory, Sorrow & Thorn is looking rather poor from 2009's perspective.

Larry said...

Well, let's see...if I were to use the reasoning that many here have applied to success/volume sold and apply it to movies, then I'd have to declare that The Titanic had to have been the greatest, most influential movie of all-time, since it made $600 million in the US alone.

Umm...I don't think that reasoning would fly with most movie fans.

As Cook himself noted, his BC books have stayed in-print for well over 20 years. You don't do that unless you're moving books on a steady basis. Needless to say, you're taking his comments a bit too seriously, no? ;)

Anonymous said...

How come I can't find a copy of Soldier's Live anywhere except for some hacks trying to sell/auction it for over $50 !!

Larry said...

I believe it's in the omnibus that Pat just reviewed, if I'm not mistaken.

HIPPYSMACKER said...

I really appreciate this interview, as Cook is my favorite Author . So thanks to you both for bring it to us. The fact that Cook is finally finishing the Dread Empire series makes me want to dance a freaking jig. If I ever met the guy who stole the original manuscript for The Wrath of Kings ,I would gut him. However, since Cook is back to finishing the Dread Empire, then it's likely the evil scrub who stole the book will only suffer in my dreams. Either way Hallelujah!

Anonymous said...

@Larry: You're being dense on purpose here. No one is attacking the fact that Glen Cook has left his mark on the genre, or that his influence is well-regarded.

As far as sales go, a bit like Guy Gavriel Kay or Gene Wolfe, Cook was NEVER a major player. As someone pointed out, he has always been a lower tier midlist fantasy author. Nothing wrong with that since the man seems to have made a decent living over the years.

His comments about writers that have sold millions of copies more than him made him look a bit foolish.

Drew

Larry said...

Drew,

I disagree. Cook was reacting to Pat's question about "cult success," when it was obvious that Cook didn't subscribe to that, since his books have always sold well enough. As for the other poster who used the label of "lower tier midlist," that doesn't apply to someone's whose omnibus of books written 20+ years ago just entered its fifth printing over the past couple of years. With average print runs being around 10K for that...that's far above the average.

And when Brooks and Eddings' latest work is talked about more than a few weeks at a time and each is proclaimed to be better than their 70s/80s works, then Cook's comment about the LotR "rewriters not doing so well" might be dismissed.

Patrick said...

Hey guys,

I doubt that Cook thought this little Q&A of ours would cause such a stir. I certainly didn't.

Here's what the author wanted to say on the matter:

«Wanted to post a few words of commentary but could not figure out how without signing up for a bunch of shit I don't want. I had this to say:

Patrick, you rascal. Look what you done. You got tens of people with sparks in their hair proving folks insist on taking it too seriously. People, sorry I couldn't be who you wanted me to be. I wasn't even who you accused me of being.

I didn't talk about money or sales volume. I pointed out that my books remain in print. I asked if "those guys" books were in print because I don't know.

Of course I'm cynical. I'm over 60living in a land run by idiots blind to anything but their own ideologies. It isn't about me, people. I'm just some old fart telling stories around the campfire. Enjoy the stories. Or not. Don't waste time fussing about the storyteller.

Generational note: Never heard of the blog or Patrick before this. Find myself incredulous that grownups spend valuable life time waxing rancorous and apoplectic over trivia.

Environmental note: We need to round up Feist (a nice man, in my experience) and disarm him if has that many hundreds of millions of books out there. He is deforesting Canada.

Final note: I sell most all of my titles, signed, for cover price plus postage.

Best. Glen Cook»

kompan said...

bring me more stories mr cook. i dont care about "who's selling more and who's on some freakin' bestselling list" crap. if im going to have any money i'll buy your books

Anonymous said...

He says he didn't like the idea of reprinting the Black Company series because they were still widely available, but (ironically) that's only true really the 6 books that have already been republished in omnibus version.

In Europe, in any case, it's virtually impossible to get hold of most of the books from the Glittering Stone sequence for reasonable prices.

torrone said...

I found it amusing that some here felt that Cook came across as a asshole. He is just a guy who worked on an assembly line. He was admittedly a spare time writer. It was not his full time job. That was raising a family and paying the bills(like most of us). Being closer to Cook's age than perhaps many of the posters here are, I get his cynicism. We've been around a while and have been bashed over the head enough to not take a lot of what goes on too seriously. Most of what people say is a lot of hot air and Cook realizes it. It is somewhat of a generational thing. He may consider this type of communication foreign, being quite a bit older. I share his(apparent) disdain for many "best-selling" authors. Number of books sold vs the quality of the writing have nothing to do with one another. I have a friend who won't read anything unless there are many breaks where she can stop often. ADD? Cook is a regular guy who likes to watch a ball game and waste time. Sounds a lot like me, except for the crucial difference that he is a great writer. The fact that his audience is not as large as King or Koontz doesn't mean he's not a better writer than them and many other mega-sellers out there. IMO, I'd rather sit down with one of his books than 99% of the other "authors" out there. If you haven't read his stuff, you are really missing out on something special. The fact that he doesn't see himself ans anything more than just a guy is just icing on the cake.

Michael said...

You, the interviewer, got owned. Gotta love Cook.

Anonymous said...

Come on...he sounds a lot like Croaker don't a think?

I wouldn't trade any of my Cook for all the best sellers in the world.

Zach said...

I don't know about you guys but I'm kind of worried about the new book in the Dread Empire series... or more accurately, I'm worried it's not the book most of us have been pining for (that was stolen), but rather just a new book that happens to be in the series. I wish that question had been asked. I've loved the Black Company (which thank God was "completed" as it's amazing) and then had to have more so I turned to the new omnibus Dread Empire books, only to find that the "Sequel" omnibus isn't even on the radar since it's technically not finished and the paperbacks of the available books are like 100$ on amazon.com! BTW I agree with the sentiment above that gutting is the only reasonable punishment for the thief.

Woofdog said...

Re a new dread empire book (not the long-gone Wrath of Kings), I also worry, mainly because the man who wrote that series up to the end is >20 years gone. Authors change. Authors revisiting old worlds rarely write a story that fits well.

Cook is one of my very favorite authors. Some of his story are just brilliant - The Dragon Never Sleeps, The Tower of Fear, the Dread empire stories.

Woofdog said...

Edit to prior - he also may be about to have a very bad thing happen with his GM pension and that may impact his tone and patience for questions in general.

Zach said...

Good point... I certainly hope his writing talents have been rewarded monetarily but I have the feeling from his "kids in college" response to one of the questions that maybe that the state of the auto industry still affects him financially, perhaps that is one of the reasons we are getting new books. I certainly hope not but will take what I can get when it comes to these series as I enjoy them so much.

Woofdog said...

"I certainly hope not but will take what I can get when it comes to these series as I enjoy them so much."

Indeed, his books have given me hundreds of hours of enjoyment. I hope to even briefly meet the man before I die. This is without excessive preconceptions - I want to say Thank You! I don't care who he is!

My views on Dread Empires rewrites of long-ago endings are 'believe it when I see it,' though.

Woofdog said...

"I certainly hope not but will take what I can get when it comes to these series as I enjoy them so much."

Indeed, his books have given me hundreds of hours of enjoyment. I hope to even briefly meet the man before I do. This is without excessive preconceptions - I want to say Thank You before I die! I don;t care who he really is in terms of this imperative!

My views on Dread Empires rewrites of long-ago endings are 'believe it when I see it,' though.

Woofdog said...

please delete my 5.55 am comment along with this one, my fault.

usagigoya said...

Glen Cook is one of the authors I first ran across and started reading back in the 1980's. He is one of the few authors I've felt motivated enough to write to (others being Zelazny and Brust). He is also one of the few science fiction and fantasy authors whom I still follow.

I am glad to hear that there might be a possible publication of the DREAD EMPIRE sequels "WRATH OF KINGS" and "A PATH TO COLDNESS OF HEART", stories which I first heard about nearly fifteen years ago in a letter from Glen Cook.

I am also happy to hear that there are a couple more BLACK COMPANY novels planned as well.

I have a question for Shawn C. Speakman about Terry Brooks which I've been curious about ever since I finally managed to finish SWORD OF SHANNARA.

I just do not understand the logic behind the first three quarters or more of the book where the main characters are in a major hurry to save the world from mass destruction and evil domination, and they set out walking. I assumed for more than two thirds of the book that horses were no longer around, that they had become extinct in the catastrophy which created the world of Shannara. Then, the last quarter of the book, the heroes suddenly have access to horses. Did Terry suddenly discover a need to speed things up to a conclusion at that point or something?

I think I must have started SWORD OF SHANNARA half a dozen times and kept quitting before getting 100 - 150 pages into the book, but eventually I was stuck with some time on my hands and nothing else to read so I finally read the whole thing. I can honestly say that I've never had any desire to read another book in the series after it.

Ekberg said...

This guy is great, I love it. These books are fun and are a fantastic way to escape the realities of the everyday grind. He keeps banging these books out, I will buy 2 at a time. i have to go to work!

Mitchell Powers said...

Hardboiled! Haw! I love these pathetic pukes who aren't going to read his books cuz he didn't kowtow enough to their favorite genre blog! Grow up, ya pukes!

And the guy that thinks Cook'll be a footnote in the history of the genre: It's far more likely that the existence of the genre will be a footnote in Cook's biography, ala Jane Austen, and the marriage novel.

Cook's popularity in eastern europe, and among soldiers pretty much says it all to me. I'll say it again, Hardboiled in a Softboiled genre. Have fun with the elf books, ya cubes!

kethdredd said...

Patrick,

Glen mentions that you can contact him for signed copies of his books. Do you have any idea how we contact him for this purpose?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, any contact information would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I have met Glen Cook on many occasions over the last 30+ years of convention going. He is a pleasant and friendly man. But while his output of printed words is prolific, he is a man of few words in person.

I don't know him well, but I'd say he shares a lot in common with many of his characters. I. e., he's an outsider looking in and has never been part of the mainstream, popular social set.

In a room of boisterous SF fans debating each other about various "trivial" fictional issues that have little to no importance in the physical world, you would be likely to find him off in a corner looking over a book. He could easily be at the center of attention, pontificating to admiring fans. But that’s not his personality. You would have no clue that inside his head is the rich world that he puts into his written work.

It seems that fans of every genre of entertainment always want the creators of the art to have pearls of wisdom to share. I think this is a selfish desire on the part of the fans since they hope to validate the importance that they have placed on what is essentially a guided daydream; a passive escape into a fantasy world that distracts them from what they find unpleasant in their real worlds. And while relaxation and mental exercise are important aspects of our health, let’s face it, if we had the drive, most of us could be doing something much more personally productive than reading a book or obsessing about the opinions of the author.

I think Mr. Cook has found that he has an ability to write entertaining fiction. And because that sells books and that puts food on his family’s table, he does it. I think that is his priority. Maybe that’s a bit of a let down to people looking for something deeper.

No doubt he has a muse, and exorcises a few demons while writing, but I think that comes second. I think he is a practical man. I am sure he cares about the quality of his work, but I don’t think he is writing because he is driven to reveal some hidden truth to us. I don’t believe he is so egotistical that he feels we need his help to figure out life’s mysteries. A lot of authors I’ve met enjoy being the center of attention. They enjoy the chance to talk about themselves and espouse their opinions. I don’t think Mr. Cook does. Hence his responses to some of the questions and his follow up comments. He’s just a guy telling some stories.

If he wanted to preach, the sermon would probably have a lot to do with the way most of us are manipulated and exploited by egotistical and greedy men/women. It seems to be a common thread in his fiction. As alluded to by an earlier poster, Mr Cook worked a “blue collar” job at GM. He has also schlepped books to SF conventions to sell in the huckster rooms for extra money and for years he has lived in a neighborhood of mixed social and economic realities. So I’m sure Mr. Cook has an opinion about what the selfish men and women of our governments have done to democracy and the dream of a middle class in pursuit of their own greed and the lust for power. Many of his protagonists find themselves caught up as pawns in struggles between opposing powerful factions.

Maybe if Pat’s questions had dealt with those issues, he might have gotten a more passionate response. But I think Mr. Cook is indifferent and/or uncomfortable with the usual interview questions that presuppose some special importance to an author or his works. When asked about some of the practical aspects of his writing profession, Mr. Cook seemed like less of a grumpy curmudgeon.

When I need a break from the mundane, Glen Cook’s books do a good job providing it to me. I think he has a special knack for inventing people and place names that help conjure up the fantasy worlds he creates.

I hope he has many years of writing ahead of him and I’ll keep buying his books. I just wish some of them would come out in higher quality hard cover editions from one of the smaller publishing houses. Oh, and if anyone reading this happens to speak to him, please tell Glen that he needs to write a sequel to the Swordbearer!

mandy said...

i stumbled across this post after looking up some info on him becos i was heading out to the bookstore soon and wanted to make sure i had my titles. i am glad i saw this. :]

i read chronicles of the black company a year ago and just loved it. stayed up all night readin it. gotta love his style. his responses here just proved again why i like him so much.

Carol said...

I think the guy who said he sounded a lot like Croaker is right on target.

Never read anything by Glen Cook that I didn't like.

I'm thrilled that he's still writing and if he was writing the nutritional contents on the back of a Cheerios box I'd probably buy that too.

Just keep telling me stories, Mr. Cook.

And thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've meet Glen Cook a few times. He is always at the Archon Convention in the Metro East Area of St. Louis.

You'll find him tucked away with the rest of the book sellers in a corner. He is very unassuming and polite. The first time I met him I bought one of his books (a preprint of Black Company) and he offered to sign it. He did state that it might de-value it. We chatted for a few minutes.

He wasn't arrogant, nor an ass. He didn't have huge signs proclaiming "Here I am!". In fact there were no signs at all. I look forward to going again this year just to see him, and maybe get another signature.

Anonymous said...

I for one love high/epic fantasy as a genre, and found Cook's Black Company series to be a wonderful re-interpretation of the same themes found all across the genre...His disdain for the omnibus' strikes me as a little thick, as I can speak for at least three separate people who were introduced to the series solely because they spotted the slick cover and size of The Black Company tor omnibus. It can't hurt the series, and the covers are at least three times more badass than the 80's and early 90's covers.

Compared to new and unknown heavyweight Bakker, I would characterize Cook as almost his exact opposite in style and characterization (though there are some interesting parallels between Croaker and Achamian) and yet they're my two favorite SF authors. As much as Cook seems to deplore the genre, he's doing great things for it.

p.s. Hey, Pat, keep up the format!!

Stephen said...

You can buy any of Glen Cook's books (or short stories) directly from him, as he noted, then resell them on Amazon ;)

I enjoyed this interview, though it showed that a lot of the usual questions people ask are just ones that Cook doesn't connect with.

An interesting facet of Cook is the number of different styles he writes in.

Anonymous said...

He put as much effort into his answers as Pat put into his questions. Many of the questions are vague or make assumptions. In all fairness to Pat, though, perhaps some of your questions hit Mr. Cook in unpleasant places (omnibus, subtitles, cover art, "cult" following). Read the Strange Horizons interview for more balance.

As far as the "re-writing the LotR" comment, I don't think he's speaking specifically about Brooks, who has written more semi-urban fantasy lately with the Word and Void stuff. I think Marc is right on the money here.

I think the answer to the last question sums up the interview perfectly: stop taking stuff so seriously. To all you crybabies that don't like his answers: boo hoo. If you're not reading his books because of this interview, you seem easily manipulated and overly sensitive.

I love Glen Cook's work and humor. If you don't get tongue-in-cheek and sarcasm, you probably won't like his work anyway.

The One-eye vs. Goblin competition (Black Company) has to be the most hilarious dynamic ever written in the fantasy genre.

FunkHo said...

I am also interested in the contact information to get the signed copy of the books.

Even if it is an archaic PO Box. I'd be willing to send a letter.

Gabriel said...

God Bless glen cook. If you are shocked and offended by his blunt, truthful responses and his ornery mouth, you need to wash the sand out of your fragile vagina and turn in your glen cook fan card.

Have you even READ any of his books? This is how he talks and thinks - this is WHY we love him! Seriously, Croaker and his rough boys would smack a "shovelfull" of pain onto all your tender pink behinds. Grow a pair and come back.

maine character said...

I actually enjoyed the interview. At first I thought you got him on a bad day, but then realized it was an e-mailed interview he could’ve done at any time, and finally I simply appreciated his candor in just going ahead and slamming his way through it.

In fact, right after reading it I went and looked up five more interviews with him, and this is not far from how he always answers questions. As Jeff VanderMeer said in his own interview with the author, “Cook in interview is as blunt, direct, and honest as his books.” And that’s something to be enjoyed.

The best interview I found was at Quantum Muse, in which they met him at a bar and promised to get him liquored up. Maybe that’s the secret.

By the way, to anyone who took offense to Cook saying that blogs were a waste of time, Cook meant they were a waste of time to him, not to us. In fact, I wouldn’t have known about his work if not for this blog.

argenteus said...

The guy is either stoned or a complete jerk (my guess is both). Haven't read his books and now I am never going to either

Anonymous said...

this interview was great. glen cook was cynical and an asshole and it was great. i for one am thinking of picking up garrret or DE books now. i love the fact that he really just doesnt give a shit. his interview was funny and entertaining. even more so reading the responses made me lmao.

As far as the questions go i dont think it will make a difference. he's gonna still provide an interview thats funny and entertaining and says if ya wanna know read the damn book.... glad to hear theres another BC and instrumentalities book on the way though.

Anonymous said...

His books are awesome, but comes accross as a complete ass who couldnt really be bothered to do the interview in the first place..

Kody said...

This is amazing, he reminds me of one of his characters. If he doesn't feel this website is important I understand. He shouldn't have bothered answering the questions then imo. I literally just went and downloaded and re-posted all of the ebooks of his i could find on 2 main pirating sites because of his general attitude.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading Science Fiction and Fantasy for the past 50 some years and that is a whole lot of books and magazines. In 1979 I liked the cover on a paperback titled A Shodow of All Night Falling. That book hooked me on Glen Cook for life. At the World Fantasy Convention in 1982 I got to meet Mr Cook. He was not what I expected. He was an ordinary Joe and he seemed out of place among the other authors who were signing copies of their books. But he was certainly gracious enough.

Years later I corresponded with him and was able to purchase from him a copy of Sung in Blood, the small hardback book published by NESFA Press to commemorate his Boskone XXVII's Guest of Honor. He did not overcharge me for it either.

Yes, he does have strong opinions and he may come across as a curmudgeon. But his books provide me with hours of enjoyment and that cannot be said of all but a few people writing in the two genre today. So keep on writing, Glen, and I will keep on buying your books.

Jack Neigenfind

John said...

Glen wasn't being an asshole. The interviewer had a large number of poorly-conceived questions that didn't really have a determinable objective answer. There wasn't much he could do with them. I would've taken the same attitude.

Michael McGhee said...

Laughed at people who are not going to read Glen Cook's because of his answers.

I read books because of where they take me, not because the author is a saint.

You better live a long time, Glen Cook, because the greedy bastard in me wants more books out of you.

Anonymous said...

Glen Cook is not an asshole and if you've ever met him (which I have) or read through many of his characters, you'd see him as I do: very down-to-earth, working man trying to do right by his family. He has neither the time nor inclination to put on airs, be "of the community" or "market" himself. He's a guy that works, writes books, does what needs be done to get through the day. Pompous? Egotistical? Hell no, he's not thinking about himself, he's thinking "I've got kids in college." He's a good guy, salt-of-the-earth with talent that we enjoy.

And he's smart enough not to fight over Garrett wearing a hat on one of the book covers. So, he chooses his battles and, in this case, his interviews. Give him a break, read the 1st book of the Black Company and then come back to this interview thinking "Croaker, One-Eye, Captain".

The Ogre (aka, Matt) said...

I've been a fan of Glen Cook for over a decade. It's a shame that so many of you are seeing this interview as Mr. Cook as him being an ass hole. A damn shame. I found the answers to be funny and on the nose. My thanks to Mr. Cook for spending some time answering those questions, and my thanks to Pat for putting them out there.

Just read Gilded Latten Bones and loved it. Can't wait for the next!

Review Daddy said...

Cool

Anonymous said...

I wish he turned canon space into a trilogy.i loved "the dragon never sleeps"

Dan said...

It has been a long while since I finished TBC. Aside from that I really haven't touched much else of his work ,but I'll have to get into instrumentalities of the night and some of his other stuff.

Frankly I thought a lot of the questions were stupid so I can understand his responses. Don't let Glen's brusque nature turn you away from some good books.

What the hell is the black company "sequence"? It's like the questions were written by a non-native speaker or someone who simply was unfamiliar with Glen's work.

Anonymous said...

Rereading Cook's Black Company again after many years in large part because I've had it with George Martin's notion of realism. What a load of crud Ice and Fire is turning out to be. GRRM;s claims to realism are shallow and pretty well benk. Cook is the master, not only of how soldiers on the ground act but of real conversation, how people talk. He builds entire characters with conversation in a very old-school fashion, as though he were a detective novelist in Dashiell Hammett's day. Cook is old school, and doesn't come off as an asshole (nothing wrong with your questions, Pat) -- he is an asshole. Couldn't quite figure out why someone would be interviewing him if the interviewer hadn't read the Black Company.

Currently on Silver Spike, the first of the BC books written by a different storyteller than Croaker. Case's journal reaches the reader by throat in the first page or two and yanks you into it. Brilliant. The voice delivered as Case throughout, horribly experimental stuff in the fantasy genre.

And Cook is indeed old school, writes in a powerful Hemingway/Vonnegut style. Everyone who hasn't read them should run down to the local library or bookstore and beg/borrow/steal/buy themselves some Black Company. Yeah, there's a reason this stuff is on its fifth or sixth printing -- it was groundbreaking in the mid-1980s and it remains groundbreaking today. Cook is also a good reminder of what writing is all about -- or what it used to about in America, long ago: telling a good story and letting the characters develop themselves in their own language via conversations with each other, not the third eye of writerly trappings. Brilliant stuff.
Hope Cook gets to those two planned Black Company books!

Anonymous said...

"It was a dark and stormy night" moments in Cook'is Black Company? Maybe they're there, Cook says.

Of course there are. One that has stuck with me for decades is from the very first Black Company, the first sentence of the section when spring finally comes to the north:

"Spring sprung." Punchy, short, and the rivers flooded with the melting snows.

Here's another from paragraph two of the opening of "Shadow Games," Book Four, when the remnants of the Company decide to head south in search of their ancestry:

"Then there was no more dust. They were gone."

Cook at times packs the potent punch of Hemingway. "They ate. Yet they were always hungry." (From Garden of Eden).

This writing style is as necessary and important today as it was in Hemingway's day, as it was when Cook broke fantasy mold in the 1980's.
Any young writer turned off by Cook in this interview is probably doomed to write indirect drivel.
'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I read Glen Cook in the 80's and am planning to re-read and catch up. I thought the interview was aimed at the self important type of author so it didn't fit with a real down to earth author like Glen appears to be. Straight answers to convoluted questions........refreshing.
Interesting that several of the comments that sized Glen up as an a..hole said they had never read any of his works. I place as much value on their comments as the number of books by Glen they have read.......nada.
As for me, I look forward to some fine reading ahead.

Jon said...

I guess he's the wrong person to be asking about when his damn Black Company Omnibuses are coming to eBook format... *sigh*

Anonymous said...

I liked the interview. Mr. Cook isn't writing to compete with others, so he doesn't know / care about others. Is it just me, but as a long time Black Company fan, I don't know if I want more books in the series. I thought the conclusion of Soldiers Live was perfect.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Black Company Series and just finished Surrender to the Will of the Night; all were awesome!!!

Can't wait for the next instalment of the Instrumentalities of the Night, and because of this interview will read the Dread Empire works.

Thank you for all the fantastic stories Mr. Cook!

Pete said...

The interview may have seemed a bit terse. Especially to those of us who love these characters. We all want more than the books have given. And an interview seems like just the place to get the answers we want. But then on second read it goes just as a fight with Lady and Croaker...
Thank you Glenn for your fantastic books.

Tim Ward said...

I just had the opportunity to meet and interview Glen at Demicon. He was kind and generous with his time. There is a trend in some of these questions were he is being asked about how others feel/write or if he cares about how others feel (about his writing), and it seems he is more concerned about writing the story that he wants. That's actually a solid way to approach writing.

He also mentioned helping Jim Butcher with his first book, as well as some other young writers, so it's not like he doesn't care about people, he just doesn't let what others think change the writing that he wants to produce.

brianafortier said...

Just started reading BC...It is pretty good so far...HAve not formed a complete opinion yet...but as far as the interview goes...

I like Cook A LOT! He's a regualr guy doing what he loves for the sake of it.. and if people like it..more the betterOld school salt of the earth...

Like the feller says "Don't take shit so seriously" Enjoy it if you do and don't read it if ya don't... the world will still keep turning...

Anonymous said...

he mentioned in his letter he sold signed books which I would love to get a hold off, but there's no info on how to contact him. Does anyone know of a way of getting in touch to purchase signed copies from Mr. Cook himself?