Local Author Turns Never-Produced Hilary Duff Film Into New Novel
Trish Cook

Trish Cook

Local author Trish Cook’s fifth novel for young adults, “Outward Blonde,” will be published Oct. 18. The novel tells the story of a privileged Manhattan socialite teen who parties a little too hard and, as an intervention, is plucked from her cushy city apartment and shipped off to a wilderness camp in Utah. We don’t know about you, but all we can think is “Troop Beverly Hills” and we can’t wait to read it! Make It Better recently talked to the author about her new book and some of her favorite things to do around Chicago.

Make It Better: Tell us about your inspirations for this book and for your other young adult (YA) books.

Trish Cook: Usually, an idea captures my imagination, whether it’s a wild story I heard that happened to someone or something in the news or just a snippet that comes to me organically. I use that as a jumping off point and once I have a general idea of the plot — maybe I’ve let the idea run around my brain for a good week or so — I sit down at my computer and start to write. I don’t outline or try to get too down and dirty with details in the beginning because I like to see what turns the story takes naturally as it goes along. My characters often surprise me and I love it. That’s one of the most exciting and interesting parts about writing for me. For “Outward Blonde,” though, the process was different. My publisher, Adaptive Studios, has a really unique way of approaching YA books: They take unmade film projects and ask YA writers to create novels based on them. “Outward Blonde” was originally a movie set to star Hilary Duff! Adaptive came to me with what they call a “spark page” — just the most basic outline of what the story is: A spoiled, rich New York girl gets in trouble and gets sent to wilderness camp. I never read the script for the movie that was never made. I just developed the story based off the spark page and had so much fun doing it.

What are your favorite city girl/glam activities?

Nothing beats the gorgeous views from the rooftop of Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. I also love concerts at Wrigley, Northerly Island and Soldier Field, rooting for the Cubs and Blackhawks, and enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of the Riverwalk.

"Outward Blonde" by Trish CookWhat are your favorite outdoor adventure activities and places to visit?

Riding tandem bikes with friends up to Ravinia is always a fun local adventure. My husband and I just took a trip to see a concert at Red Rocks — a definite bucket list item for both of us, so amazing. Other fab adventuring spots: Miraval in Tucson and Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah. Biking and hiking Snow Canyon is breathtaking!

What are your favorite causes/nonprofits to support?

I really love the mission of Foundations of Music, and that it’s locally based and focused. This nonprofit provides music education for kids in Chicago Public Schools who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. It was started by Jam Productions, a local concert producer, with support from many Chicago musicians who donate cool memorabilia to the annual Rock for Kids auction at the Park West. Creating music is a joy and everyone who wants to should get a chance to experience it.

Anything else you want to tell our audience?

I hope you enjoy “Outward Blonde,” and if you do, please recommend it to your friends! There are lots of books out there, and it’s easy to get lost in the stacks. Spreading the word is the best way to get some good buzz going and keep it going. Thanks so much for your support!


Trish Cook is the author of five young adult novels, including “Notes From The Blender,” “A Really Awesome Mess” and “Outward Blonde,” coming this October from Adaptive Studios. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Graham School program in creative nonfiction, and her essays have been seen in the Manifest-Station, Graze Magazine and Spittoon. In her spare time, she rows with a masters crew, most recently competing in Masters Nationals and the Head of the Charles Regatta. You can find more information at trishcook.com and @trixcook on Twitter.

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