Bake Believe by Cori Cooper Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Can it be real? Or is it bake believe?
All Cat Anderson wants out of life is a circle of friends to giggle with and a few cute boys to flirt with. Her first day of eighth grade is looking perfect—until a scheduling mishap places her in a culinary arts class.
Food, it turns out, is a very big deal. In her family there is a secret, too big to stay hidden any longer. A secret too fantastic to be real. Something happens when Cat bakes. Something impossible.
“Ohhhh! What’s that?” Robyn waits at my locker, her eyes getting bigger as I walk closer. I have a towering stack of Snickerdoodles on the plate in my hands. She darts around my elbow to reach for the topmost cookie. I say towering stack and I mean it. When Robyn removes one, she sets off the delicate balance, making my tower sway. I drop my backpack and throw my free arm around the plate, so the cookies don’t all hit the floor. “Snickerdoodles.” I blow a strand of hair out of my face. “From Culinary.”
Robyn’s eyebrows lower. “Where did you get them?”
I roll my eyes. Seriously, she asks like I went all black clad and ninja cat burglared the nearest bakery. “From Culinary.” I say again, louder, and more distinct so she can’t misunderstand. “You aren’t taking Culinary.” “I am now.” I adjust my backpack by shrugging one shoulder. “So…” Robyn examines the cookie she snitched. “You actually made these?” “Well, yeah, with my group.”
Her face lights up like the sunrise over the Boise Foothills. “Oh, my gosh, this is the best day ever! I LOVE Snickerdoodles.” And she proceeds to shove the whole cookie in her mouth so both hands are free to grab some more.
I make a smooth turn to move the plate out of her reach. “Wait, didn’t you have Snickerdoodles already? In first hour?” “Well, we made Snickerdoodles,” Robyn sighs, “But my whole group is boys and they ate everything. EVERYTHING. I barely escaped with my fingers. Please can I have more, pretty, pretty please, Cat, the smell is making me crazy and that is a TON of cookies.”
With all the snickering going on in our kitchen, Brigg, Paisley, Tobey, and I accidentally doubled the recipe. We divided the cookies onto five plates, one for everyone in our group and a plate for Mrs. Cake, but there are still about a zillion cookies for each of us to take home.
So, basically, I have more than enough to share with Robyn, and a small army if there happens to be one marching by on our walk home. I graciously lift the plate to the level of her nose.
Robyn takes a normal bite this time and closes her eyes. “These are SO good!”
I am SO happy she thinks so, but nothing looks good half-chewed. I stare at my fascinating shoes until she swallows. “Wait a second! I need to know how you ended up in Culinary! This morning you didn’t even know what ‘culinary’ meant. Why are you taking Culinary now? Tell me more about this Culinary.”
I brush a few stray crumbs off my arm. Props to her for using the word culinary so many times in one sentence.
Cori Cooper lives in the magical Arizona Mountains, which she’s pretty convinced is the setting for all the fairy tales.
Besides writing stories, she adores hanging out with her family, playing board games, hiking and baking, baking, baking. Like Cat’s family, she’s positive Cinnamon Rolls fix everything.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
My name is Cori Cooper. I live in the AZ Mountains where it is NOT ridiculously hot, there are limited cacti and we spend most of the winter shoveling ourselves out of snow. Sounds made up, I know, but I promise it’s all true! I share this space with the best guy in the world, whom I married, four fantastic kiddos, two cranky cats and a graying dog who thinks she’s still a puppy.
I’ve been writing and reading stories since I was a little girl. I LOVE stories! I always wanted to be an Author, in fact, I tried numerous times over the years to publish, but my timing was off. Finally, when my babies were young and needed me most, I decided to pack my ambitions away with Lavender and focus on my family.
BEST decision EVER!
When Baby went to Kindergarten, I pulled that box out and dusted off my dreams. Publishing my first book, Bake Believe, is pretty much a dream come true, a marvelous journey with breathtaking views.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
You might be sorry you asked!
My socks never match, I’m super contrary, I can’t sleep if my feet are covered, I like cheese more than dessert, I have a knack for remembering names and faces, I dip my pizza in ranch dressing, I LOVE doing dishes and would rather scrub toilets than iron, I’m really organized - but can never find anything, I love puns, my favorite animal is a Platypus, I hate following recipes and I suck the life out of electronics and small appliances - like an Xmen. Seriously, we have been through like 11 toasters in 20 years of marriage. I just wish it gave me Xray vision or something.
Who is your hero and why?
I am blown away by Helen Keller! When I think about all that she accomplished, and all the obstacles in her way, it really testifies to me that we humans are capable of ANYTHING we put our minds to. We can do so much more than we realize.
How to find time to write as a parent?
It was easier when the kids were all at school for most of the day! Our school district is still distance learning, so we decided homeschool was our path. It’s been a bit of a balancing act, but here’s the part where a super supportive hubby and amazing kids come in handy! I set aside an hour everyday to write and they take care of the house and each other so I can have that uninterrupted time. It’s amazing how much I can get done in a short amount of time when I’m able to really focus on it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I finished Bake Believe, and decided that was the one to try and publish, I realized no one else was going to believe in me as a writer if I didn’t believe in myself. So, in that moment, I embraced myself as an Author. I shed all the old beliefs I’d hung onto for a long time. Stuff like: to be a writer, other people had to like my writing and to be a writer I had to have a successfully published book. Not only am I a writer now, but I’ve always been one.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Oh my goodness, movies! I’m a sucker for BBC Jane Austen remakes. My very favorite one is Emma with Romola Garai. It’s PERFECT. I also love the Sense and Sensibility version with Dan Stevens. But probably, my most favorite movie in the whole world is the live action Cinderella, Disney made in 2015. It's got such a good message, I never make it through that one without bawling!
What inspired you to write this book?
One day I was making Cinnamon Rolls for a friend who was sad and as I worked, I started thinking how cool it would be if the cinnamon rolls really could make her feel better. Like, really change how she felt. The thought rolled around in my mind for a couple weeks before Bake Believe was ready to outline.
What can we expect from you in the future?
For sure a second and third book to Bake Believe, then after that, I have fifteen or so novels and short stories in various stages of ready to roll. Fantasy, Young Adult, Chick Lit, Regency and some more of my home base Middle Grade. I’m ready when the publishers are!!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Cat is the funnest character in the world. She was a pleasure to write. If you remember the last time you let yourself go, and belly laughed until you cried, that's kind of what the experience was like. I just let all my silly out and I enjoyed every minute!
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
Hands down the scene where Cat takes cupcakes to Tobey’s house. Not only was it super fun to write, but my hubby and I brainstormed that scene together on a really long road trip. It was so great!
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? I would spend all day baking withTiaMarissa, listening to Spanish radio and dancing barefoot in the kitchen while we bake for the people we love.
Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I think it’s pretty impossible to write without including people and places that are part of my life. There isn’t one person that translates into one character, but all of my characters have traits from the people I know. If they look hard enough, my friends and family will for sure see themselves in my characters.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Something like Strawberry Shortcake, Bubble Gum, Cotton Candy or Frosting and Sprinkles.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
That is tough! For sure, Anne of Green Gables - by LM Montgomery, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion - by Jane Austen, Gone with the Wind - by Margaret Mitchell, My Fair Godmother - by Janette Rallison, The World’s Greatest Chocolate Covered Pork Chops - by Ryan Sager, Blackmoore - by Julianne Donaldson, My Own Mr Darcy - by Karey White and Shattered Snow - by Rachel Huffmire.
Do you see writing as a career?
I suppose writing can be a career, there's a person or two who have had super success writing! ;) But for me I think it works better to see writing as FUN! I do it because I LOVE it, because writing is what I DO. I can’t imagine NOT writing. So, if that yields money and recognition, YAY, if not, I will still write, forever and always until the end of time, the end.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I always have one main manuscript I’m working on, but I can’t seem to stop myself from outlining and daydreaming up other ideas in the process. That moment when a new idea hits, and it’s good - you can tell- that is one of the most thrilling things about being a writer. I LOVE it!
Pen or typewriter or computer?
I always write my first drafts, outlines, by hand - old school - I think best with a pen in my hand. But after that, it’s computer all the way. I am particularly fond of the program Scrivener.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Scarlett O’hara. Because she’s awful, but I still care about her and want to see what happens to her. That, to me, is masterful storytelling, when an author gives you a character you can’t like, but you can’t forget either.
Advice they would give new authors?
My advice to new authors? Don’t worry what anyone else thinks and don’t give up. If you care enough to write a story, there is a place for it in this world. Keep trying to get it out there until someone takes it. Just because some people don’t like it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. There are like a gazillion people in this world, someone will like your writing. You just keep on keeping on until you find that someone. And in the meantime, YOU believe in YOU.
What makes a good story?
I LOVE character driven stories. If I don’t care about the character, I don’t really care about what happens to them. Give me flawed, vulnerable, loveable characters!
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Punctuation! I still don’t know where to put commas and I don’t even want to talk about the semi-colon.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I don’t believe in the writer’s block that there’s no ideas, like, nothing new to write. I don’t buy in to that one at all. I don’t think ideas have to be original to be written, example: even if I wrote a story about a wizard with a scar that was raised by his aunt and uncle, it wouldn’t turn out like Harry Potter, because I’m not J.K. Rowling. Now, that would be a really silly idea to take on because HP is so well known and loved, my point is, every idea becomes original again when a new author tackles it. That’s why fairy tale retellings are such a thing.
However, I do have experience with the ‘what next’ writer’s block. But I think of it more like a speed bump than a block. Sometimes it just takes extra time to figure out the best place for the story to go next. It always works out though, bump, not block!
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