Thursday, February 05, 2015

Thursday Thoughts with J.S. Cook

A Dream Before Sleeping

I’m notoriously bad at writing sex scenes. There, I said it. It’s hard for me to stretch my imagination much beyond kissing, or the standard ‘insert Tab A into Slot B’ scenario. Unless I make a special effort, my characters tend to sit around, drinking beer and shooting the breeze (or shooting each other) and staring at me. ‘Well?’ they seem to be saying, ‘are we doing this, or not?’

It’s not that I’m embarrassed about sex scenes, or sex in general. It’s not like I don’t have the kind of imagination that readily supplies ideas of the carnal sort. It’s the description of it that most stymies me – and let’s face it, ‘and then he’s doing that to him’ is hardly the stuff of great writing. Unless I can prod it into giving me some really smokin’ vocabulary, my imagination is more likely to sit there yawning in my face.

You see my dilemma. I love men. I love manlove. I love the idea of men together, all hot and sweaty and naked, their skins glistening in the moonlight (or the sunlight; I’m not fussy) as they bring each other to the heights of ecstasy. I just wish it was easier to write.

I’ve found a partial solution, one that has recently been put to good use, involving my imagination and my favourite online radio station, JazzRadio. There’s a window of time every night just as I’m falling asleep, where music and imagination provide all the sexy scenes a girl could ever want – dreaming without sleep, I call it. Music – jazz in particular – is useful, because it allows me to think about my characters in a different way. Sometimes, this is all that’s needed to break through the crust of writer’s ennui that’s recently hardened around me.

Physical descriptions of my characters are almost always rooted in what I call ‘templates’ – real people who embody the characteristics I want my guys to have. The templates are extremely useful when I’m trying to picture what Hottie #1 and Hottie #2 are doing while in flagrante. For example, the book I’m incubating right now has a main character who is incarcerated in a hospital for the criminally insane. He has certain physical attributes, many of which are found in…let’s call him Australian Actor, or AA for short. I can dream this character as having AA’s face and body, his gestures and mannerisms, and his tone of voice. I know AA is a good choice because he’s played ‘my’ sort of character before. So my character temporarily becomes AA, and with his counterpart English Actor (let’s call him EA) obligingly acts out the scenes I have in mind, all to the backdrop of really great jazz. If I want to see what AA would look like kissing someone (not necessarily EA, sadly) I can find online videos. If I need to describe his sexy walk, his smile, or the look in his eyes when he finally throws EA up against the wall and ravishes him? Youtube. His voice when he’s begging for something? Youtube. The way he looks naked? Google is my go-to source (you’d be amazed who posed for naughty pictures when he was young and needed the money) and yes, Youtube.

Basically, it’s like I have Central Casting in my head. Central Casting with a backdrop of Billie Holiday. The worst of it? I always fall asleep before the good part.


The Quality of Mercy

The year is 1934, and disgraced federal agent Nathan Devereaux is escorting convicted felon John Banks to visit his dying mother. Banks is despondent, miserably ill with a heavy cold, and unenthusiastic about traveling by plane. It isn't a responsibility Devereaux wants, but something about the prisoner’s plight resonates with him.

Devereaux charters a plane to Wisconsin, hoping to get there before Banks's mother breathes her last. But a routine journey swiftly turns into a sojourn in hell when a violent winter storm forces the plane miles off course, and Banks’s seemingly bad cold turns out to be diphtheria.

Stranded many miles from the destination, Devereaux must find a way to save Banks's life without compromising the mission. Like Banks, Devereaux has secrets of his own, and the scope and purpose of his mission don't quite square with the stories he tells. Making matters worse, he is the only one standing between Banks and certain death, but even a federal agent can do only so much—especially an agent with blood on his hands.


JS Cook was born and raised on the island of Newfoundland, somewhere in the north Atlantic, between Iceland and eternity. Her biggest influence was her Scottish grandmother, who fed her whisky and scones, and encouraged her use of the word ‘bawheid’.

As a young child, she was abducted by the faeries and spent a great deal of time wandering around in the woods by herself. Animals are her favourite people, but now and then a human slips through the net and must be dealt with in JS Cook’s swift and merciless fashion. In a previous life she was a superhero(ine) with the power to be invisible when no one was looking at her. Her past literary works include War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Wuthering Heights, the Canterbury Tales, and the Bible. She has yet to receive recognition for any of these. She once roamed around Dublin for seven hours. She maintained she wasn’t lost, but merely ‘looking around’.

She has been married to her best friend for 27 years. They live with their spoiled rotten dogter, Lola, in St. John’s, the oldest city in North America and the best place to have cod tongues for lunch.  


  1. My Nana and Grampy who were from Millville NB visited NL and Nana told me her very favourite meal was fried cod tongue. And when I mention it to my NL friends at work, they agree. I've been across Canada 5 times (I live in Edmonton AB), but not to NL, next time I will and my cousin who lives in Cape Breton promises to go with me. Definitely plan to try the cod tongue. I loved your description above. Too funny.