Colleen Oakes

Author of: The Black Coats

Colleen Oakes with her book The Black Coats

AUTHOR BIO:

Colleen Oakes was born in Denver, Colorado to two amazing parents and grew up buried in a pile of books and big dreams.

Her first novel was Elly in Bloom, a romantic comedy about a curvy wedding florist forced to design her ex-husband's wedding to his mistress. Later, Colleen wrote the Queen of Hearts series, an origin story about the infamous villain from Alice in Wonderland. Overlapping with the Queen of Hearts series, her second YA fantasy trilogy, the Wendy Darling Series was a uniquely feminist take on Peter Pan. Her latest book, The Black Coats, tells the story of a grieving teen that is recruited by a vigilante matriarchal society in Texas, who take revenge on men who hurt women.

Colleen lives in North Denver with her Harry Potter-esque husband, beautiful son, and lazy shihtzu. She surrounds herself with the most lovely family and friends imaginable. When not reading, writing or plotting new books, Colleen can be found swimming, traveling or immersing herself in nerdy pop-culture.

To learn more about Colleen, connect with her online:

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Website

INTERVIEW:

+ What can readers expect from THE BLACK COATS that they wouldn't gather after reading the summary?

CO: I think that people can expect everything they love about a secret society book with a deep dive into grief, violence, a touch of romance and the power of female friendships. My characters wrestle with big issues, even when what they are doing seems very fun on the surface. There is unexpected depth and questions that will hopefully make the reader think about issues of justice and sorrow and how they interact.

+ I loved the tribe of friendship that Thea found with her Black Coats team. What was the most challenging aspect of this dynamic to bring to life?

CO: Giving everyone room to grow! Normally in a book you might have one or two side characters, but here we had four, plus Nixon just in the Black Coats alone. They all needed page space to grow their characters into distinct, fully-fleshed young women who were a part of this team. And they were all introduced at once! That was probably the most challenging aspect, though the struggle was worth it to see this amazing team come together.

+ THE BLACK COATS is an extremely relevant story for our time especially since the #metoo movement has started. When did you start working on the story, and how do you see it tying into modern day issues?

CO: I started working on The Black Coats about three years ago, inspired by a number of different issues. I wanted to see a story about justice and vigilantism, a story about strong females and a frank conversation about violence against women. The book ties into the #Metoo movement quite by accident of timing, but I am so glad that it can be a part of an important and necessary conversation about women speaking their truths.

+ What prompted you to set THE BLACK COATS in Austin TX?

CO: A visit! The story was actually set first in the deeper South, but I realized quickly that the vibe was more Texas boot-stomping than it was a Southern Gothic tale. I changed the setting to Dallas and then visited Austin for a book tour and fell in love with it. Austin is just the right place for this book; it has just enough edge, along with some haunting locations that stay with the reader.

+ A lot of your previous work has been in the realm of fairy tale re-tellings (Queen of Hearts Saga and Wendy Darling). What inspired you to dive back into the contemporary world to write THE BLACK COATS?

CO: Many things: the death of a good friend prompted me to write about grief; a black coat lying on the side of the road in Nebraska led me to wonder about the circumstances surrounding it, and reading a study of the statistics on domestic violence ignited in me a rage that needed to be poured out in ink. All these things and a fascination with vigilante justice combined into the potent drink that is The Black Coats.

+ If THE BLACK COATS had a theme song what would it be? What music did you listen to the most while writing it?

CO: It would be God's Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash. I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash, The Civil Wars and Dixie Chicks. I have a Spotify playlist that I used while I was writing the book, and it's public and available to listen to for all readers.

+ What was the final push that sent you from your job as a wedding florist and into full time writing with your debut ELLY IN BLOOM? What was the most challenging aspect of making this leap?

CO: I think the final push was my last wedding, when I realized that the time to step into the job I'd always wanted - an author - was now. Once I made the decision, it was simple, but getting there was a leap of fate. The most challenging was convincing myself of all people. The rest of my family knew I was heading there already.

+ What is the last book that you've read that you would rate 5/5 stars?

CO: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was as near a perfect book as I have ever seen.


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