Life is Heating Up for Connie Reeves Cookem
The Houston Author Gets A TV Series Based On Her Mystery Thriller, Cayman Heat
By Melanie Saxton
Houston native Connie Reeves Cooke graduated from Robert E. Lee High School and later attended Dallas Fashion Merchandising College. Little did she know she’d someday become an author with a television series on her hands, although the signs were always there. “In seventh grade I wrote the gossip column for my school newspaper,” she quips — a prelude to a career spent in the media.
Cooke worked at the Dallas Apparel Mart for Texas Fashions magazine and held the position of fashion coordinator for two fashion design houses. She returned to Houston to work in the same capacity for Joe Frank.
In 1988 she began writing a society column for a statewide tennis newspaper and later conceptualized and wrote the “Movers and Shapers” column for Houston Health & Fitness magazine. That led to society columns and positions such as fashion editor, features editor and stylist for Philanthropy in Texas, Sense, Texas Woman, Smart Set and L’entrée. She also photographed the events for her columns and simultaneously hosted her own society segment on two local television shows.
A Novelist at Last
After attending Rice University to study novel and screenwriting, Cooke finally fulfilled a lifelong dream. Her suspense thriller, Fade to Dark, was published in 2006. She set her second thriller, Cayman Heat (2012), in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman and incorporated the elite social stratosphere of Houston’s movers and shakers — familiar territory for Cooke. She’s been active in the Houston social and charitable scene for many years, receiving several prestigious awards for her volunteerism and fundraising.
Her writing experience and intimate knowledge of Houston’s notable locals became inspiration for the perfect novel. Cayman Heat is… hot! And the Lifetime cable network noticed.
Inspired by a birthday celebration with friends in Grand Cayman, Cooke envisioned a main character, Koral Sanders. What if this female private investigator was caught up in a scuba-diving murder mystery? Better yet, what if the crime occurred on Cayman’s famed and dangerous North Wall? The concept percolated for about six years, until Cooke brought it to life in Cayman Heat. She spent an additional five years polishing and editing the manuscript. It was time well spent, for the novel caught the eye of Miranda Spigener, a publicist, producer and owner of MS Film PR Literary. Spigener immediately believed that Cayman Heat was a book-to-film crime drama. She successfully pitched it to Lifetime Television, which has recently launched the series Devious Maids with Eva Longoria and The Client List starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Slated for distribution in 2014, and “in talks” with Andrew McCarthy as director, the series will most likely be filmed entirely (or 90 percent of it) in Grand Cayman. The pilot episode is being adapted as Cooke writes the sequel, Cayman Wind. Fans will be glad to know this next thriller features the same cast of characters — minus those killed off in the first novel. A few additional personas make their debut, giving Lifetime plenty of material for ongoing episodes.
Gratitude… and a Close Call
“Everything I wanted to happen in my 20s and 30s is happening now,” says Cooke of her venture into television. “It’s life in reverse!” Her hard-earned acclaim and new opportunities bring feelings of gratitude to the surface, especially in light of a heart attack she suffered last year. Waiting eight hours before calling for help, she simply didn’t recognize the symptoms — a common reality for women. Some of her friends said, “If it can happen to you, it can happen to me,” especially because Cooke doesn’t drink or smoke, watches her diet, and had a complete cardio checkup just weeks before her heart attack.
She spent four days in the hospital with a stent in her heart, then rallied to raise awareness at the 2013 Heart Ball. After devoting her life to philanthropic work, Cooke no longer chairs events for the sake of her health (and the sake of her sequel), but will remain president of the board of the Houston Humane Society.
By her side always is Clayton Cooke, her extremely supportive husband of 40 years. The couple divide their time between their homes in Houston and Lake Travis in the Texas Hill Country, and enjoy their three sons, six grandchildren, one great-granddaughter… and four Chihuahuas.
Readers can visit Cooke’s website at conniereevescooke.com. Updates for the Cayman Heat television series are posted on the official website, mirandaspigener.com/current-projects/cayman-heat. The novel is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and select bookstores.