Books Ahoy! is a feature inspired by Entertainment Weekly‘s “Books of My Life” column. I wanted to go beyond the interview and ask authors (and even readers) about their favorite books. Reading is a personal, but shared experience and what a great way to know someone by asking them about the books that shaped their life.
No author or reader was forced to walk the plank.
I’m really honored to welcome Aaron Cooley to Lit, etc! I loved Aaron’s first book, Shaken Not Stirred and it’s a book that to this day, if I meet anyone who is a fan of Ian Fleming, I recommend Shaken Not Stirred. When Aaron asked if I’d be interested in reviewing his latest, a political thriller involving the Supreme Court, I couldn’t say no! I’ve read the first part of Four Seats and it’ll be your must read this summer. A review of the first part will be posted next week and I seriously can’t stop raving about it! Pre-order it guys (and ahhhh! I can’t wait for you to see the book trailer!)!
Aaron was kind enough to agree to a Q&A plus I’m giving you the chance to win your very own copy of Four Seats!
Q. Your favorite childhood book?
As a real young kid, I loved Harry Allard & James Marshall’s Miss Nelson is Missing and Miss Nelson is Back, because I was already into superheroes and (spoiler alert) loved the idea of a teacher with an alter ego. As I got older, I became obsessed with Norton Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth both as a book and a film. I loved both the magical journey that Milo embarked upon and the fun that was had with the English language along the way. Then, I noticed four books by someone named JRR Tolkien on my grandfather’s bookshelf and never looked back! My interest in spy and political fiction didn’t come until my adult life.
Q. Favorite book you read for school?
I always loved The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, not only because I could identify with their friendship and loved dreaming about going on adventures as fantastical as theirs, but because I got to play both roles in various theatrical productions growing up. I’ve even read Tom Sawyer, Detective and Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer Among the Indians. I’ve always been a little OCD in my need to read complete series, maybe that’s why I turned my latest idea into a six-book serialized story!
Q. Classic book you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve never read?
The Grapes of Wrath, mainly because it’s my wife’s favorite book. I want to read it, it’s just such a time commitment. I read East of Eden after meeting her and it blew my mind. In my schools, at least, they introduced us to Steinbeck through his shorter works: The Pearl, Of Mice and Men, etc.
Q. A book you read in secret?
I’m currently reading The Fountainhead — a good reminder for any artist of why we’re doing what we’re doing when a work of ours is on the verge of release and we’re about to be judged purely by its commercial merits. But you can’t read Ayn Rand in public in Los Angeles without your car getting tarred because of the Republican Party’s co-opting of her as their patron saint, so this is a Kindle read all the way.
I also made my wife read Fifty Shades of Grey recently. That didn’t sound right. What happened was, one of my early readers on Four Seats only gave me one note, that he worried my sex scenes were too graphic. I bought Fifty Shades for comparison, but I’m so busy with work reading, I begged my wife to read it first. She said she likes my sex scenes better.
Q. A fictional character you’d want to be?
This one stumps me. Fictional characters are always in such shitty situations, that’s what’s interesting about them, right? Probably Tony Stark or some other comic book character.
Q. Favorite adaptation of a novel?
For me, Alan J. Pakula was the master. All the President’s Men and Presumed Innocent made me want to both write and make movies, movies about murder and politics and the law. I thought my boss Joel made great movies out of The Client and A Time to Kill. And more recently, both Gone Girl and Wild were excellent.
Q. A book you wish you had written?
Doesn’t everyone wish they had written Harry Potter? But beyond the financial concerns, I so admire the serialized style that Hugh Howey knocked out of the park with Wool, and the way we’re releasing Four Seats is an effort to bring that form to the political thriller. Everyone’s probably also waiting for me to mention Ian Fleming at some point in this Q&A, but Hunt for Red October is the masterpiece of that genre for me.
Q. A book that in some way cemented you as a writer?
On Writing is the most informative, inspiring book for writers out there. It’s Stephen King’s best, and one of the few books that has made me cry. William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade is equally as inspiring for anyone embarking on a screenwriting career.
Q. A book that would make a great doorstop?
Going Rogue. Admittedly, I haven’t read it, but I’m confident I already know what’s inside. I’ll leave it at that.
Q. Your favorite James Bond?
I got this question a lot when Shaken, Not Stirred first came out. Though Connery and Craig are empirically the best, I think you always have a soft spot for the first Bond you meet in the theatre. Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights will always be my first Bond.
Q. And finally, you’ve been given the task to host a last minute dinner party. Which authors are on your ultimate dinner invitation list? Alive or Dead.
I know this is a bit of a cheat, but I’d invite Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow and just sit back and watch. I have a feeling we’d spend the whole meal talking about sports.
Aaron Cooley is a producer and development executive for famed film director Joel Schumacher. His first novel SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED was named one of the Best Indie Books of 2013 by IndieReader.com. As a screenwriter, he has developed projects for the companies behind PULP FICTION, TRANSFORMERS, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, MARGIN CALL and THE WEDDING RINGER. A native of Portland, Oregon and graduate of Yale, Aaron now lives in Los Angeles with Whitney and Mitten.
Connect with Aaron
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While Four Seats isn’t available at the moment, I’m giving you the chance to win a digital copy! US only. Any incomplete task will be disqualified (therefore don’t say you completed a section when you didn’t. 😉 ) Giveaway ends on Thursday, June 18th at Midnight MDT (2 am EDT). Good luck!