Monday, August 25, 2014

Author Interview: Carol Cooper: One Night at the Jacaranda: Writes For The Sun: Teaches Medicine

Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist and author from London. Her novel One Night at the Jacaranda comes after a string of non-fiction books, including an award-winning textbook.  She writes for The Sun, the UK’s best-selling newspaper, and also teaches medical students at Imperial College Medical School.  Her three grown-up sons and her new husband provide endless inspiration.

Link to One Night at the Jacaranda:

Blog Pills & Pillow-Talk

Welcome Carol!

1 What is your real name and pen name?

My real name and pen name are the same.  When I began to write fiction, I considered using a pen name, but I didn’t because I decided there was nothing to hide.

2 Please share some of your best memories of your childhood.

Even though my parents separated when I was five, and I was lonely because I grew up as an only child, I have many good memories.  I remember playing in my grandparents’ garden in Alexandria, Egypt, where we lived until I was about eight years old. It was a big garden and it always seemed sunny. When I read Enid Blyton’s books about the Secret Seven, I was convinced there were many mysteries there to solve.  In reality there weren’t, but that didn’t stop me investigating the garden with the attention to detail of a Scene of the Crime Officer.  After we left Egypt, my mother and I lived in a tiny apartment in Washington DC.  We had very little money, but you could get 2 US cents for each glass bottle you took back to the shop.  So in the park I’d go from bin to bin to find empty Coke and Pepsi bottles.  One day I found a bin which was full to the brim with empties!

3 About your education.

I went to several schools in different countries, including a French school, an American school and finally an English one. Three of the schools I attended were Roman Catholic.  Then I went to Cambridge University where I studied medicine.

4 What languages can you speak and write?

Apart from English, I can speak and write French quite well, and my Arabic isn’t too bad.

5 What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

Other people.  As a doctor, I come across the whole spectrum of human life, from the best to the worst.  It’s so humbling to meet those who’ve coped with adversity and come through smiling.  

6 When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I started when I was very young.  My stories were about such things as witches dying in fires caused by smoking in bed.  I didn’t get published until I wrote music reviews as a student. My parenting and childcare books aimed to be informative without being prescriptive.  Nowadays I’m writing what I’d most enjoy to read myself for pleasure: fiction that is entertaining yet doesn’t ignore the serious side of life.

7 Which of your work has been published so far?  Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

I’ve had over 10 non-fiction books published, as well as numerous newspaper and magazine articles.  My most recent book is my novel One Night at the Jacaranda.  It’s a racy story about a group of single Londoners looking for someone special. They include Sanjay, a young man dying of cancer, a journalist called Harriet, Karen who is a single mother of four children, Dan who has recently come out of jail, a stressed doctor called Geoff, and Laure, a beautiful lawyer whose relationships always fail through lack of confidence. It’s a character-led story, and it’s told from both male and female points of view. While there are laughs, there’s a darker side too, and the medical strand reflects my experience as a doctor.

8 What are your future plans?

I’ve been delighted by the response to One Night at the Jacaranda in terms of reviews and being a finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards, so I’m now writing a sequel which will feature some of my favourite characters from the novel. The prequel is also crying out for attention.  It will go back about 15 years, to when some of them were students.  With luck, it may become a series.

9 What four top things do you take care of while writing a book?

I like to keep it real, by which I mean accurate, so this involves writing about what I know best.  My fiction is just that: fiction, but it is inspired by real-life situations I have encountered.  I like to introduce characters people can care about, and then I make sure the dialogue is true to life.  Finally I try not to let each scene go on too long, so there’s not much description of physical appearance and the like, as that can slow down the action.

10 Zodiac sign

I’m a Leo.

11 Favourite colour and why

Red, because it’s upbeat. It’s also a typically Leo colour.

12 Favourite book and why

The Group by Mary McCarthy. It’s a wonderfully drawn novel about the fate, sometimes tragic, of a group of women graduates in the 1930s.  Though it’s tame by today’s standards, it was considered shocking when it first appeared in 1963.  ­

13 Your favourite celebrity and why

I don’t really go for celebrities, but I idolise Martin Luther King.

Sun or Moon? Sun
Laughter or smile? Laughter
Morning or evening?  Evening
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Mountain or sea? Sea
Long drive or short drive? Long drive. It takes you further
Silence or conversation?  A bit of both
Water or fire?  Fire
Air or earth? Earth
Mars or Jupiter? Mars
Tulip or rose? Rose, because of the scent
Red or blue?  Red
Left or right? Down the middle
Glance or stare?  Stare. Use your eyes like you mean it!

State your signature line/tagline/best quote.  

She knows about bedside manners” (it’s the strap line on my blog Pills and Pillow-Talk).

The last line of your autobiography would be…?  

I’ve worked hard, and I’m not finished yet.

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