As usual when it comes to my online literary community, I know of EA Cook via Facebook, as well as his work, of course. But he’s such an affable presence in social media interactions it’s like you’re sitting down sharing a mental meal with him, engaged in casual but compelling conversation about a wide variety of subjects, none of which are off limits, all of which fall within his expansive wheelhouse.
This wizened voice is what gives his fiction - spanning several genres - such resonance. As you will read here, he’s an exceptionally talented writer that makes every word, and every experience, count. He’s what I call “organically hardboiled.” No b.s. around here.
Your background is extremely colorful and eclectic. How have your adventures as a young hitchhiker, carny, face painter, hot dog vendor, Advertising Executive, and P.I. informed and inspired your work?
I have also been a missionary – involved in many ministries including the one that brought Jimmy Swaggart down, and alternately, a three-time convicted felon. I did two years on a three-year bit and a couple six-month, two month, two week tours in county jail for a total of over three years behind the walls.
The dichotomy would make a different man take himself off the count. I burned up a marriage during that time, and wasn’t allowed to watch my first son grow up.
Through those years, more people than I can count have told me that I should write and tell my story. I recently put out volume one of what I call “Autobiographical Snapshots” entitled Faces Places and Pain, Carnies Tramps and Truths. Neither my time serving the ministry or serving my sentences are mentioned there. Maybe in the next one, or the one after that.
I discovered Andrew Vachss’ work in the prison library and I read all of the Burke Series that were out at the time. I knew then that I wanted to write fiction. And so I have.
Your fiction seems to be a healthy blend of positive life affirmation with stark recognition of the world’s pervading darkness. Given that complex world view, how would describe your “manifesto” as an author?
Even in fiction-write the truth.
In your opinion, what distinguishes a “literary” author from a “genre” author, and is that distinction disappearing?
I came in the ring blind, untrained, and swinging for the fences. I write the stories that come to me without much thought about genres. I’ve written a western, historical fiction, contemporary crime fiction, and a volume of memoirs. Classic literary work by Salinger, Faulkner, Fitzgerald et.al. leave me slack-jawed and drooling with boredom. God forbid I ever slip into that septic tank of mental masturbation.
On the other hand, Margret Atwood is amazing…sorry, what was the question?
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
Elmore Leonard, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Louis L’Amour, Joe R Lansdale and Dean Koontz.
What’s next for you?
I have two WIPs going – one is a new venture for me; my 11 year-old step-son asked, “Why don’t you write us a story? So I am. It’s called The Whiz Bang. It’s a hoot.
The other is another Robineux story, (because that clan won’t leave me alone) that has two interwoven plot lines that run alternately between 1918 and the present. There are Gypsies and carnys and oh my.
Cheers, and thank you.
E.A. Cook has lived a life that rivals the lives of the characters that he writes about. He was raised in the north woods of Minnesota and as a young man spent years traveling around the country hitchhiking, riding freight trains and as a carny. He has worked as a face painter on the streets of New Orleans, a hot dog vendor, an Account Executive for advertising and has owned a private investigations company. His work has appeared in the e-zines Muzzle Flash, Powder Burn, Thug Works, Parasitic, Flash Fiction Offensive, and in print in Out of the Gutter #3. E.A. Cook lives in Colorado with his tribe.