An interview w/ Alicia Cook: One person making an important difference.

I first came across Alicia when I started my writing page on Instagram, back in 2014. She was one of the first people I “followed,” and someone I would grow to admire as time went on. There are certain people you find in this life that inspire you to be the best kind of person, and Alicia is one of those people.

Alicia is a writer, and an activist from the New Jersey area. Her goal is simple, but her reason is complicated. Alicia focuses a lot of what she writes about on recovery, drug addiction, and the battle that so many families are having to endure every single day. She is doing what she can, with the time that she is given, to raise awareness of what can be considered, the worst drug epidemic of all time. It doesn’t matter who you are, addiction affects everyone around us, and Alicia has made it her mission to make some sort of a difference in the recovery and addiction community.

I felt compelled to reach out to her, and ask her a handful of questions. I wanted to know more about her as a person, as well as what we can expect to see from her in the near future. In my first interview, ever, I get to know Alicia Cook a little bit more, and it is my pleasure to share with you, why you should get to know her as well.  

Q: When was it that you knew you wanted to change the world with your words, and was there anything, or anyone specifically that inspired this?

A: It was, and still, isn’t my intention to change the entire world with my words. Sorry, if that sounds weird. I just always set out to write honestly to work stuff out for myself, and make people going through similar situations feel less alone in their struggles. I always knew I wanted to make others feel better while making myself feel better about life, too. If that has turned into me making the world a better place, then that makes me happy.

Q: In your most recent passion project, Heroin is the worst thing to ever happen to me, what was the original purpose behind it, and did you expect this to become as big as it did, in regards to submissions, and how many people have been so closely affected by addiction?

A: The original purpose still exists as, The Other Side of Addiction, my essay series where I write about how addiction affected my life and for those who want to share their journey to recovery, and for families who want to share the heartbreaking lessons they learned when they lost someone they love to addiction. Heroin is the Worst Thing to Ever Happen to Me  was just the next step – to compile some of the most riveting stories I wrote over the last two years of my series, add resources, and tie in quotes from the documentary episode I was featured in that encapsulated my story and the stories of other advocates I met along the way.

I never expected when I put the “call out” for submissions in October 2015 that I would be booked through April 2017 within the first two months. I didn’t celebrate that as a “win.” It broke my heart because I hated knowing that so many people were affected by the disease of addiction.

Q: Stuff I’ve been feeling lately was amazing, and has received great attention for good reason. What has it been like to watch this book grow into such a success?

A: Thank you! It was pretty surreal having this little self-published book I wrote in less than three weeks’ catapult to the top of best seller lists on Amazon, and stay there a year into its publication. It was a dream come true. That book is the work I am most proud of – and it opened so many doors for me in the last year. A literary agent wanted to represent me because he came across the book, it made it to the finals of the Goodreads Choice Awards, and now it is going to be traditionally published by Andrews McMeel Publishing in April. I feel so lucky to be able to publish this book not once, but twice now. The traditional edition will be double the length of the self-published edition and the blackout poetry has been entirely reformatted. Dreams coming true don’t always happen, and they definitely don’t happen overnight – it took me ten years (at least) to be able to experience all of this, so I pinch myself regularly and I do not take one moment or sale for granted.

Q: If you had to drink any coffee order for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: That’s so tough – I love coffee. My coffee order for the rest of my life would definitely have to be iced – iced all the way. If I HAD to choose a specific brew, it would be Rook’s New Orleans Cold Brew.

Q: Where do you feel, you can get your best writing done? Paint a picture of the “perfect” place you could see yourself just getting lost into your words.

A: I would love to paint a beautiful picture for you right now and say it would be in a hammock on some tropical island or in my home office with the fireplace on – but usually I write my best poetry when I am driving, running late to somewhere, and I record voice memos that I have to try and decipher later on. I write a lot on airplanes as well.

Writing my articles is another story because it is usually from an interview I have already transcribed, so that’s usually done in my home office like a normal human.

Q: If you had to choose one mantra that you live by daily, what would be the most prominent one that comes to mind?

A: Miranda Lambert has this song she performed live maybe once that she never formally recorded called “Scars.” In the song there’s a line that says, “The pain that I remember, is the pain that makes me stronger.” I think that is a beautiful way to look at life…the belief that pain is not breaking you down, but building you up, making you a stronger version of yourself.

Q: Quick fire round: Celebrity crush! Go!

A: LEO. Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m very upset that I’ve officially aged-out of his dating range. He’s the sexiest in The Departed.

Q: Is there a TV show that is your absolute weakness? If yes, what is it about this show that you just can’t get enough of?

A: Growing up, the shows I always went back to, recorded on VHS, was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls. The revival of Gilmore Girls pissed me off, but I watched those shows from beginning to end countless times. The Office is another show in my binge rotation. Currently I am re-watching New Girl for the second time.

Q: What is a day in the life of THE Alicia Cook like?

A: Weekdays I work full-time as Director of Institutional Communications at Bloomfield College in New Jersey. I write all day for the College basically. So, my weekdays usually include dragging myself out of bed, to work, to the gym, then home where I cook dinner, relax, and try to go to sleep before midnight. Exciting, right? In between my “normal” 40-hour work week routine, I probably work another 10-15 hours a week on all my freelance and poetry stuff.

That includes posting poetry or book promo posts at least once a day on my Instagram/Twitter accounts, interviewing people and writing their stories for my series, returning emails from people all over the country, participating in print/online interviews, radio and podcast spots, video shoots, and speaking at high school evening assemblies or on panels about addiction. Just off the top of my head.

Weekends I like going out to eat, I LOVE LOVE LOVE brunch, hanging with family and friends…lately, most weekends I work though. Like this past Saturday, I was interviewed on-camera for five hours for a potential new show called Driven.

Q: What’s next for you? And are there currently any projects occurring in your life that you can tease us with?

A: I am just going to keep plugging along – working full time, adding installments to my essay series, participating in more speaking engagements and school assemblies pertaining to the heroin epidemic. I have some travel planned…going to Mexico and Hawaii in the coming months.

I am most excited about the re-release of Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately! I am an equal mix of nervous and calm, and am really looking forward to getting all the new work that is in the reprint in readers’ hands! I honestly think the traditional publication holds my best work to date. It will be available on April 11 everywhere, in stores and online. I totally plan to stalk the hell out of my book at book shelves. BUT it MAY be available for pre-order sooner rather than later!!

Alicia can be found all over the internet, and if you click on any of the TEAL words above, it will take you directly to that specific page. Like I have said before, Alicia is someone that you pay attention to, because you just know that whatever she is creating, and putting out into the world, is going to change a life.

For those of you that do not know, Alicia was the first person I shared my full story with, and you can find it printed within the pages of her new book/passion project, Heroin is the worst thing to ever happen to me. It includes a handful of riveting stories about those affected by addiction, including an update on where these people are now, and what they have been up to while recovering from addiction and the effects that were caused. It is simply an amazing piece of art, and I would recommend it to anyone.

I have purchased three copies of her best-selling book, Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately, and I want to do a GIVEAWAY. The first three people who submit their story to be posted on my page, will receive a copy of this book, as well as a personalized poem written by me, based on the story that you submit. Submission must be at least 500 words, and needs to follow the guidelines listed on my “Tell me your story” page.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Alicia Cook. She is incredible, and a force to be reckoned with.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your story submission.

Ps- Alicia is my #WriterCrushWednesday as well as my writer crush every day. 

-Megan Lawrence