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Friday, 7 April 2017

Author Q & A with Carol Cooper

In a London heatwave, emotions reach boiling point…
Ex-con Dan has it all. The perfect job and a new baby with his dream woman. So why is he still an outsider?
Laure had baby Jack late in life. It’s only natural she’s a little over-protective. Motherhood is terrifying.
After surviving serious illness, Sanjay’s got his life back. Now he wants adventure. Where does that leave girlfriend Harriet?
Karen’s love life is reduced to casual sex with the football coach. As a divorcee with four kids, romance is on her to-do list, just below the laundry.
Doctor Geoff’s relationship with actress Daisy is bound to be a bit dramatic. But why all the mystery?
A slice of contemporary multi-cultural London life to make you laugh, cry, and nod in recognition.

Hampstead Fever is currently on special offer in WH Smith travel shops, and is also available on other bookshops and online.

Title: Hampstead Fever
Author: Carol Cooper
Published By: Hardwick Press
Publication Date: 1st July 2016
Links: UK:  Amazon  US: Amazon

Author Q & A

Hi Carol and welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog.
Thank you very much, Annette, for having me on your blog to talk about my writing and my reading.

What was the inspiration behind this novel?
The inspiration for Hampstead Fever came from two things. Firstly, I moved to picturesque Hampstead a few years ago, and thought it would make a great setting for a story. Secondly, I wanted to let out some of the characters from my first novel again so they could getting into more trouble with their relationships, their work, and their families.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, once I had grown out of wanting to have a button shop and then to become an astronaut. My mother was a writer and artist, and my father had always wanted to write books, but never did. I didn’t want to have the regrets that he had.

What other jobs have you had?
I’ve worked at supermarket checkouts, done proofreading, and typed manuscripts in Russian. Some of the other jobs I still do, like doctoring and being a medical journalist and broadcaster. I also teach medical students at Imperial College, London. It’s great to have such as diverse working life, and occasionally the flavours of these worlds find their way into my writing.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
Scary! I self-published my first novel after a string of traditionally published non-fiction books, and my main worry was whether One Night at the Jacaranda was good enough to hold its head up. In some ways it was, as it was shortlisted for awards, but the original cover didn’t do it justice. I’d used an Amazon template and a photo of my red suede shoes. I thought this said ‘sexy contemporary fiction’, but it really screamed ‘amateur!’ So I commissioned a very talented cover designer, Jessica Bell, to create a new cover.

Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story.
My very first book, on staying healthy at work, came out over 20 years ago, and then a succession of other health titles followed for Penguin Random House and other publishers. Most of them were on childcare, including twins. But, as rewarding as those were to write, I still had a hankering to write fiction. All my non-fiction books were commissioned, and my novel wasn’t my agent’s thing, so I self-published.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I’m not sure if I get writer’s block, or if I just get tired from juggling lots of things. Anyway, I usually go for a stroll, listen to music, or have a nap.

What motivates you to keep writing?
It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Creating complex characters, getting inside their heads, and following their fortunes is just fantastic fun. I especially love the challenge of interweaving different people’s stories.

Where is your favourite place to write?
Writing is the ultimately portable activity, if you use pencil and paper as I do for first drafts. My favourite place to write is on the sofa, with my cat nearby, and piles of papers and books adding to the general mess.

Do your characters’ moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
My moods certainly affect my characters, but I’m not sure it happens the other way round.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Keep reading. Good books can teach a writer a lot, so I’ve little patience with wannabe writers who say they’re too busy to read.

Keep writing. Writers aren’t born fully formed. They need practice to develop their own writing voice, and improve their skills.

Remember that more doesn’t mean better. That fine paragraph full of beautiful description and fancy words? I suggest cutting it out and starting again. The best writing is spare, with just the right words in the right order.

Which authors inspire you?
There are so many, but these deserve special mention: Maggie O’Farrell, Kate Atkinson, Tony Parsons and Howard Jacobson.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just started Miramar by Neguib Mahfouz.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
People Are Strange, by The Doors. It was released in 1967, well before the era Hampstead Fever is set in, but it’s catchy and the lyrics have more than a hint of alienation and unpredictability.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
Julia Sawalha would be ideal as Laure, the new mum who is half British and half Lebanese.

What is your next book about?
I’m working on another book about relationships, featuring some of the same characters from Hampstead Fever, but there’s also another very different story, set in Egypt, itching to get out. I’m not sure which one will make it onto the shelves first.

And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'

Which book has made you:

Laugh out loud?
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr. Now out of print, it’s a hilarious look at parenting a large family while trying to write at home.

Cry your heart out?
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, a love story of two people torn apart by fate.

Want to read it again?
Cocktails and Camels, by Jacqueline Carol. This was my mother’s first book. Although she wrote it during the Suez Crisis, it’s a witty upbeat story about growing up in Egypt and I love dipping into it again and again.

Think more?
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

Wish it would be made into a film?
The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat is set in Australia in the 1970s and is so atmospheric and suspenseful that it deserves a movie.

None yet, but then I steer away from books that are gratuitously violent or include cruelty to animals.

It’s really a short story, The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.

Thanks for joining us today Carol and good luck with the book.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Carol Cooper a doctor, journalist, and author. After a string of parenting books and an award-winning medical textbook, she turned to writing novels. She lives in North London and Cambridge, and has three grown-up sons who haven’t turned out too badly.

Published in July 2016, Hampstead Fever is Carol’s second novel. It follows the intertwined lives of six Londoners as emotions rise to the boil one hot summer.

Blog Pills and Pillow-Talk
Twitter @DrCarolCooper
Facebook page Carol Cooper’s London Novels
Amazon link

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