|PLAYWRIGHT PAT COOK, photo courtesy of his website|
BOBBY: When you sit down to write a new script, do you like to start with a character, a scenario, or just a scrap of an image or piece of dialogue? Do you like to know the end before you write the beginning?
BOBBY: In looking at your "Monday" murder mysteries, I can't help but imagine it must be fun to write a series of plays with the same protagonist. With this series, did you find it easy or difficult to
keep the character growing from play to play, yet still have each individual play work as a standalone piece?
BOBBY: Here comes an "advice" question: What advice would you give to a playwright who would like to focus on the school and community theater publishing market? Do you find it challenging to write within the guidelines of what is considered publishable for this market?
BOBBY: You have plays published with nine different publishers. Do you find the editorial process fairly similar with each of them, or do they differ quite a bit (you needn't mention favorites or least favorites)?
BOBBY: Aside from a few here in Maine, I have yet to travel to see too many of the productions that are done of my plays... they're so far away. Do you like to go see productions of plays that you have written?
PAT COOK: Like you, I rarely go very far to see any productions, especially these days. Again, a great thing about the age we live in is they can send you a DVD, if they've received permission to record the production. One note here about seeing one of you shows - always wait until you're invited. I can't tell you how many times I saw one of my plays advertised and went to see it, only to wince constantly at the changes made to the script. It's only when they do the play according to the script do they feel comfortable inviting the author.
BOBBY: If you could have coffee and talk shop with any playwright, alive or dead, who would it be and why? What would you like to talk about with him/her?
PAT COOK: First, George S. Kaufman, then Neil Simon. Simon's work inspired me to write plays, as mentioned above, but I really learned about comedy characters, structure and diversity. What would I talk about? Nothing. I'd let them do all the talking, with a possible question or two from me.
BOBBY: What finally prompted you to decide to write full-time? Was this a scary endeavor, or were you at point where you knew things would probably work out?
PAT COOK: Actually, I had a few plays published by the time I met my wife, Rose Ann. After we got married she taught me how to use a computer (this was around 1990.) Then after she had nailed down a good job, we agreed that I would just write play after play and see where it went. Not just occasionally but making it a full time job. Up until that time I would normally write 1 or 2 plays a year. That year I wrote 7. I suppose it was a bit scary but now that I look back at it I don't believe I worried about it at that time. Fortunately, after I was making a living as a playwright, Rose Ann wanted to get out of her then job (computer engineer) and buy a quilt shop. I told her to go ahead now that I would support us both. By the grace of God we are both now doing something we love.
BOBBY: A good number of writers talk about having a first reader, or even an Ideal Reader. Who is this person for you, and how to they inspire your work and your success?
PAT COOK: Actually, no one reads my stuff here, although I tell Rose Ann what I'm working on and she give me lots of advice, in some cases even ideas for new plays (my play "Scrambled" was her idea, complete with title.)
BOBBY: I know this is probably not an easy question, but I'll try it anyway: is there a particular play of yours, or maybe a few, that you feel are special to you but haven't had quite the success you think they deserve?
picking it apart and looking for faults. Then, if it DOES get published, I stop all that. Go figure.
BOBBY: This isn't really a question so much as a chance for you to acknowledge any special community theater groups that may have a fond place in your heart or that have helped you in your life, past or present.