Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Q&A with Carol Cooper

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Time for another interview, this time with Carol Cooper, author of One Night at the Jacaranda. Thank Carol for answering my questions. xx

       As a child I lived out of a suitcase while my mother & I travelled. Although I've been writing for as long as I can remember, nobody paid to read it till I got columns in the likes of Punch magazine & The Sun newspaper. In my other life I'm a doctor in London & I write what I know, like books on health. My new novel One Night at the Jacaranda is about dating but it also has a heart-rending medical strand. And that's about as much as I'll give away.


      1. Did you always dream of being a writer?

      As a child I was torn between becoming an author, being an astronaut, and owning a button shop. By the time I went to university I really wanted to write, but realised it would need to be alongside a regular career. Luckily I'd forgotten about outer space and buttons by then.

      2. What does your family think about you being a writer?

       My family have always been proud of my writing, and they've read and recommended my health and childcare books.  But some of them are a bit shocked by the content of One Night at the Jacaranda!

      3. What are you working on right now?

     Many readers have told me the characters in One Night at the Jacaranda cry out to have their stories continue into another novel.  I'm therefore working on a sequel, but there's also a prequel simmering away in my head.  That story will go back to when some of them were at university.  

      4. You’re a doctor, broadcaster, mother and a teacher as well. How do you manage to do all this and write books?

      My sons are grown up now!  But believe me, it was very full on when my eldest was two years old and the twins were born.  The other thing that helps is that I’m part-time as a doctor, broadcaster and teacher to medical students. I also write for The Sun, Britain’s most popular newspaper.   A busy working life is an inspiration.   Not surprisingly, my novel has a medical strand.  It also has a journalist, a disillusioned doctor, and a young man whose cancer has spread.  That said, the characters are completely fictional.  It would be very wrong to put patients or colleagues in a novel. 

      5. Where and when do you write your stories?

      Anytime I can.  I usually start with pencil and paper, which means I can write anywhere. It's great to write when I'm happy, but creating fiction is also the perfect escape when life isn’t going so well. 

      6. How did the story for One Night at the Jacaranda come up and then develop? 

     They say the death of a parent is a turning point, and perhaps that's what happened with me. My father and his family lived in the USA.  A few years ago, I was on the plane, heading for his funeral.  As I sipped a gin and tonic, an idea for a plot based around dating popped into my head and I jotted it down on a paper napkin.  I've had ideas for novels before, but this one took hold and I persevered.  Before long, the characters took over the action and began doing things I hadn't planned for them. 

      7. What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

      I enjoy reading, being out of doors, and spending time with my new husband. 

      8. Who is your favourite author and why?

      Since I love books, it’s tough to pick just one name, but it’s probably Kate Atkinson.  Her characters are wonderful and deftly drawn, the dialogue is perfect, and the plot is always engaging.  To me that’s the ideal mix.  

      9. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what 3 books would you want with you?
      I'd like to survive, so my first pick would be Lofty Wiseman’s SAS Survival Handbook. Then I’d need a long book to stave off boredom, so I’d want the complete works of Shakespeare.  And I'd want to laugh, which is why I’d also take Cocktails and Camels, my mother’s autobiography of growing up in Egypt.   It’s both witty and nostalgic.

      10. If you could plan the perfect holiday, what would it be? 

      It would be a relaxing two weeks by the seaside with my husband Jeremy, ideally in a big house where all the family could stay.  I love North Carolina but the water is warmer in the Caribbean or the Med. And I'd need wifi.  I dislike the feeling of being cut off.

      11. Coffee or tea? Coffee

      12. Paperback or e-reader? Can I have both if I ask nicely?

      13. Mountains or the sea? Sea

      14. Summer or winter? Summer

      15. Sweet or salty? Salty

Carol Cooper on Twitter:@DrCarolCooper

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