Inspirations, A New Series. #1: My Father, by Carol Cooper

Carol Cooper is a family doctor, a  well known media medic and an indie author whose novel One Night at the Jacaranda has been nominated for the Indie Excellent Awards 2014. Find out more about Carol here

It was business as usual even though my father had died in the night. I went on breakfast TV to talk about some health story, saw my patients, did some writing.  In between were carefully timed calls to each of my sons to tell them Granddad had died.

All very controlled, composed. The next day I went to Liverpool for a conference.

There was no time to process what my father’s death meant but then, I’d lost him decades ago anyway.

Most families are complicated.  My father moved out when I was about four.  Although my earliest memories go back to my second birthday, if not before, I remembered nothing of him.

Just recently I looked through an ancient photo album. It was a jolt to see evidence of the three of us together: my parents with me as a young child at the beach. That at one point we had been a family.

For years after he left, he and I had little to do with each other.  It was my grandfather I called Papa. As I became a teenager and then an adult, we began seeing each other again, and gradually grew closer despite living on different continents.

Though we never developed the easy family intimacy I’d craved, I’d often go over with my children to spend some time in New Jersey with Dad and the wonderful American woman he’d married when I was about nine. By now he’d retired from a career in life insurance and did charity work, but he was still the archetypal Brit abroad, sustained by Harrogate toffees and Tommy Cooper videos.

Now, a few days after my father died, my eldest son and I were headed to Princeton, New Jersey, for the funeral. The seven-hour flight to Newark gave us time to talk about Granddad.

As Julian nodded off, I sipped my gin and tonic and started jotting things down on the napkin. I collared cabin staff for another napkin. Julian stirred and asked what I was writing. “Notes for an article” I said, unsure what I had in mind.

Those notes developed into a plot about a motley group of singletons in London, all trying to find someone special.  Many of them lie about who they are, in the hope of making themselves more attractive.  Lawyer Laure gives herself a name and a job that will show her at her best. Single mother Karen is emerging uncertainly after years of intense childrearing.  Au pair Dorottya isn’t sure who she is to begin with, but she is by the end.  Geoff is a doctor whose work seems to have lost a sense of purpose, while ex-con Dan has to invent a life to cover a missing period of six years inside.

Although it’s a racy romance, One Night at the Jacaranda has its darker side. My book has nothing to do with my father, I kept saying, but who was I kidding? When you don’t know your roots, you can feel you’re missing part of yourself.

I finished this novel, and there are plenty I didn’t.  I didn't connect that, then, to how my father had always wanted to be a writer. But I know it's no coincidence that the characters in ONATJ are searching for themselves, as well as someone special.

Or that they discover they can only succeed in a relationship when they’ve discovered who they are.

Is One Night at the Jacaranda the kind of book my father would have wanted me to write? Absolutely not. I think he’d have choked on one of his Harrogate toffees if he’d read it.

But he is its inspiration, nonetheless. The reason I created it, the reason its characters are so complex.

And I like to think he’d have spotted that its hero works for a charity.

Yeats Anniversary Celebrations 2015

WB YeatsYeats activity is hotting up in Ireland, as June 13th 2015 will be the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Yesterday was the third annual Yeats Day in Sligo and Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht used the occasion to launch “Yeats 2015”, a year-long national and international celebration.

I'll be publishing Her Secret Rose, the first of my books in ebook form soon. The publication is a little delayed because there is a small press in Ireland that might be interested in putting the print books into bookstores — which would save me a whole lot of hassle with Easons.

Will keep you posted but one way or the other, the book will be out at

Read more

Self-Publishing History: WB Yeats Goes Crowdfunding

WB Yeats
WB Yeats

Late in 1888, young Willie Yeats finished his first major book, The Wanderings of Oisin (a Gaelic name, pronounced “Usheen”), at the age of 22.

The challenge then, as now, was to get it published and into the hands of readers. He had a publisher in mind but, in order to be able to approach him, the convention of the time was that the author needed to guarantee the sale of a certain number of “subscriptions” first. He had to bring in contacts who'd declare their commitment to purchasing a number of copies.

Friends and family stumped up but most of them were poor. One friend, the well-connected John O'Leary, a Nelson Mandela figure in Irish nationalism, made all the differences to

Read more

How Self-Publishing Saved My Writing Life: Thoughts from #LBF2014

ALLiance of Independent Authors members at The London Book Fair
Some ALLi members at The London Book Fair

What a week!

The London Book Fair ended yesterday and it was, in the words of my old neighbour's daughter, whenever she's seeking her highest praise for an exciting experience, “off the wall mental”.

During the fair, I found myself:

* On Monday 7th: speaking at Digital Minds Conference with the Director of Author & Publisher relations at amazon.com, Jon Fine, and indie superstar, Hugh Howey, sharing with the publishing trade my reasons for switching from being published by one of the “Big Five” to self-publishing my own work. And why I founded ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors). And, I hope, helping them to understand

Read more

Opening Up To Indie Authors: Book Launch

Opening Up To Indie AuthorsCopy of my speech at the Open Up To Indie Authors launch at The London Book Fair

The guidebook we’ve gathered here today to launch is part of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)’s Open Up To Indie Authors campaign (found on Twitter with the hashtag #PublishingOpenUp).

This campaign is aimed at book fairs and conferences, award bodies and libraries, festival and event organisers, retailers and reviewers, and anyone who acts as a bridge between writer and reader — and at self-publishing writers themselves.

Open up to what? To the most exciting and expansive movement in the books business for centuries: author publishing.

Half or more of the books on Amazon’s bestseller lists are now self-published. ALLi has many members who have sold more than 100,000 copies of their books; some who have sold in their millions and many more who are producing work of outstanding literary merit.

Corporate publishers and agents are watching and pouncing on successfully self-published authors, hoping to woo them over.

There is no denying that publishing times are a-changing — but those changes are still not reflected throughout the literary world of libraries, reviews, bookstores, festivals and prizes.

This book, and the associated campaign, hopes to change that.

#PublishingOpenUp

The Open Up To Indie Authors (#PublishingOpenUp) campaign includes

Read more