Today, it makes me so, so happy to introduce to you guys E E Cooper! Her book Vanished has occupied my brain for the better part of this week and the last two…and to ask her all the things about Vanished is like a dream come true!
Vanished is a book that showcases diversity across a large intersectional, with a bisexual person of colour as its MC and that’s just the beginning. While it primarily deals with issues like suicide and mental illness and accepting how some things are just beyond your reach, you’ll also discover that its smart prose and Kalah, the MC’s, engaging thought process will keep you hooked for the sake of characters alone 🙂
Gone Girl meets Pretty Little Liars in this fast-paced psychological thriller full of delicious twists and turns.
Friendship. Obsession. Deception. Love.
Kalah knows better than to fall for Beth Taylor . . . but that doesn’t stop her from falling hard and falling fast, heart first into a sea of complications.
Then Beth vanishes. She skips town on her eighteenth birthday, leaving behind a flurry of rumors and a string of broken hearts. Not even Beth’s best friend, Britney, knows where she went. Beth didn’t even tell Kalah good-bye.
One of the rumors links Beth to Britney’s boyfriend, and Kalah doesn’t want to believe the betrayal. But Brit clearly believes it—and before Kalah can sort out the truth, Britney is dead.
When Beth finally reaches out to Kalah in the wake of Brit’s suicide, Kalah wants to trust what Beth tells her. But she’s swiftly realizing that nothing here is as it seems. Kalah’s caught in the middle of a deadly psychological game, and only she can untangle the deceptions and lies to reveal the unthinkable truth.
Author Interview with E E Cooper
- The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement has been gaining momentum across all social media in the bookish world, and Vanished seems to be exactly what the movement aims to achieve. What exactly was it that prompted you write not only a bisexual MC but an Indian bisexual girl?
I wanted to write a character who was bisexual, but where that fact was not the defining aspect of the story. Her sexuality is simply another part of who she is as a person, including that she’s also half Indian. While I think it is important there be novels about characters dealing with issues like sexuality or being bi-racial, it isn’t always the focus of their lives. Kalah is a character who just happens to be bisexual- that’s not her problem. Trust me- I gave her a lot of other things to deal with. I figured I should give her a break in this area. Plus as acceptance grows, being gay, bi or transgendered doesn’t have to be a challenge.
I am lucky to live in a city that is very diverse and inclusive. I have friends from a wide range of backgrounds and thankfully many of them were willing to share their insights and experiences so I could write Kalah as authentically as possible. I even learned to get myself into a sari and keep it from falling off.
- When I first started to read the book, I felt like the synopsis gave away a bit too much about the book. If given the chance would you change the nature of the blurb or keep it as it is?
Ah the dreaded synopsis. There were many versions of this where my editor and I tried to find a balance between providing enough information to give a sense of the story so readers had some idea what to expect, and at the same time not give away everything.
Would I change it? Of course! I’m an author. I always want to change and tweak things. I have to be careful when reading the book (let alone the synopsis) because I start thinking “you know, if rewrote this chapter….” Or “I could describe this better if I changed just this one tiny thing.” I am not sure if writers are ever totally happy with a finished project. I wrote what seemed like a zillion different drafts of this book before it was complete and if they gave it back to me I’d likely still tinker with it.
- For the series starter, there seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions and too many character facets that you’ve left unrevealed. Is this deliberate? And what can we expect from the second book when it comes to the pasts of certain characters?
I have just finished (in theory, we’ll see what my editor says) the final version of the next book. There is a more information given on various characters so (hopefully) as the reader learns more about their history they begin to better understand what might be happening in the present. I wanted the focus of the first book to be on exploring what happened with Beth- why did she vanish and what does that mean for those who are left behind. It’s about trust and betrayal, so as a result I didn’t want to give too much away too quickly so that the reader would find themselves second guessing what they thought they knew. The second book is about justice, determination and sheer grit. Kalah is going to need to rise to the occasion if she is going to survive.
- The opening of Vanished is what kept me hooked. It’s a witty paragraph that is not only smart and imaginative, but also gives so much insight into Kalah. And Kalah is a wonderful creation. Was there someone in particular in your life that influenced her character?
Thank you! I love Kalah to pieces and I am so glad to have her on the page where other people can get to know her versus just in my head where she existed for so long. I wanted to create a character who wasn’t “the chosen one” or freakishly able to kick ass and take names. I wanted her to be flawed and messed up and still struggling to figure out how she fits in the world, but at the same time have a strong inner core of strength.
Kalah is funny, smart and truly kind. The best compliment I can give her is that she’s the kind of person I would want as a friend. She isn’t based on any one particular person- but I am lucky enough to have a lot of amazing friends and I felt totally comfortable stealing aspects from them to add to her personality. And as someone who can hardly walk without tripping, I also made her athletic because I always wished I had that skill.
- The relationship between Beth and Kalah seemed to be short-lived (at least in the book). At many times in the book, Kalah wonders for herself if Beth really loved her, and you’ve captured these conflicting emotions perfectly. What goes on in your mind when you write these scenes?
I think everyone has been in a relationship where you feel yourself falling hard and fast for someone and you wonder if the other person feels the same. In most cases you eventually discover if they do or don’t. Kalah is in the awful situation of never being able to really know, which means she has to pick through her past trying to figure out if the answer is there.
When I wrote the scenes with Beth and Kalah I wanted to capture that whirlwind of excitement, uncertainty and passion. When it feels as if every inch of your skin has developed a hyper-awareness of the other person – as if you could tell your distance from them down to the millimeter. Everyone should have someone in their life whose kisses leave them dizzy and feeling right at home at the same time.
- For readers who loved Vanished, which other books would you recommend?
Oooh so many good books, not nearly enough time to read. Some YA books that I’ve enjoyed that have a similar tone include:
- Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
- Liars Inc by Paula Stokes
- Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivan
Some Adult Titles include:
- The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
I better stop here or I’ll just keep listing more and more!
Thank you for having me and even more than that for: a) taking the time to read my book. (I know there are a million good things out there screaming for readers’ attention so I really appreciate you taking the time with mine), and b) writing to say that you enjoyed it.
Thank you so, so much to E. E. Cooper for agreeing to this interview! It’s always so fantastic to communicate with an author whose work you adore and Miss Cooper was a absolute joy to talk to 🙂
E. E. Cooper lives in Vancouver Canada with her husband and one very spoiled dog. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter (@eecooperbooks) where she spends entirely too much time. E. E. Cooper is represented by Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.