Interview with Glenn Cooper

January 14, 2015

He is very, very famous. He is the appreciated and acclaimed author of the Book of Souls.
We are speaking about Glenn Cooper, the American talented novelist known all the world. Today, Glenn Cooper is along with us to speak about his career and his job as a writer. In the interview, Mr. Glenn Cooper also gives some precious advice for aspiring authors and focuses on the most important issues relating to book publishing and self-publishing market. As usual, the questions are written by the journalist and reviewer Rosalba Mancuso, while the answers come from the same keyboard of Glenn Cooper. And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we leave you together with this extraordinary interview and with the exceptional words of Mr. Glenn Cooper.

Advicesbooks: Dear Mr. Glenn Cooper, you have worked for long as a doctor and we know you are also an archaeologist. But today, you work as a writer. Why did you decide to leave your earlier jobs?

Glenn Cooper: I see my life as an evolution. I have always followed my interests and have not been afraid to make changes, large changes every decade to keep myself fulfilled and satisfied. I got a degree in archaeology because I loved the subject matter but the lifestyle of a doctor, particularly a specialist in infectious diseases lured me. After practicing medicine I got interested in research. After doing research I got interested in biotechnology and became a CEO. All the while I wrote in my spare time. Screenplays. Lots of them. I discovered that writing was my true passion and when my first novel, Library of the Dead was a success I decided to follow that passion. But I don’t regret any of my past endeavors. I use all of them to inform my books.

Advicesbooks: What gives you creative writing compared with other so called traditional or normal jobs?

Glenn Cooper: All my other jobs have been collaborative processes. It takes teams and cooperation to do archaeology, to take care of patients, to develop new therapies. Writing is solitary. I have to depend only on myself and I find that liberating. Of course, if a book turns out poorly, I can’t point a finger at anyone but myself.

Advicesbooks: The main topics of your books are predestination, conflict between science and faith, the possible end of the world. Could you explain to us why do you like these topics?

Glenn Cooper: I like big ideas. Philosophical, religious, scientific ideas. I write thrillers because I enjoy them and so do many readers but I’m not so interested in traditional espionage, terrorism. technothriller, crime genres. I like to evoke one big idea per book and weave a story around it. And in the process I hope that readers will enjoy thinking about fate, predestination, the nature of evil, the interface between science and religious belief, notions of the afterlife. I don’t provide answers. I leave it to the readers to find their own answers.

Advicesbooks: Have your education and the previous activities influenced the stories of your novels?

Glenn Cooper: My past professional and life experiences are like wells from which I can draw water. Readers have good bullshit detectors. They can tell if a writer really knows his subject matter or is using Wikipedia as his source. I’m fortunate to have life experiences in archaeology, history, business and medical science so I’m confident when I write about these subjects.

Advicesbooks: I know before writing a novel, you deepen the sources very well and read also up to 300 books.
Is it true? And if it is: How much time do you take to read these books and consequently to write a new novel?

Glenn Cooper: My books often draw on history and weave multiple time frames together with the present. I insist on historical accuracy which means quite a bit of research. I’ll accumulate 100-300 primary and secondary historical books for each of my projects and read all of some and parts of all. Actually, it’s the most enjoyable part of the process. I do all my own research. I don’t use helpers or consultants. If I don’t already know a city or a region, usually in Europe, I’ll visit and spend time visiting sites, often with a knowledgeable local guide. I spend about a year on each book, research and writing included.

Advicesbooks: At this stage of the interview I would like to talk about your books. Your first success is titled The Library of the Dead, followed by The Book Of Souls and The Keepers of the Library. The common plot of this trilogy is an ancient library where is kept a book with the date of birth and death of all human beings. The idea is absolutely original and this explains why the same trilogy got a great international success, much more in Europe than in the United States. According to you, why the trilogy of The Library of the Dead was more appreciated in Europe?

Glenn Cooper: I’ve often thought about the explanation between my success in Europe and the United States. It’s true that my books sell much better in Europe, particularly Spain, Italy, and France. Maybe it’s the subject matter and Europeans are more interested in complex stories with themes based on the Church. Maybe it’s because my European publishers understood my books better than my American publisher and presented them more effectively. I’m not sure of the answer but I have no problem being an honorary European author.

Advicesbooks: Some critics said that through your books you overcame the talent of Dan Brown, the famous colleague and the author of Angels and Demons. Do you agree with this opinion?

Glenn Cooper: I enjoy his books and find him terrifically clever and inventive but I try to write in my own style. No thriller writer has ever achieved Dan’s level of success and I tip my hat to him. Having said that, I write Glenn Cooper style books, not Dan Brown style books and I’m happy with that.

Advicesbooks: I also know that at the early stages of your career, you contacted more than 60 literary agents before being published. And so, I think you have never used the online self-publishing to become a successful novelist. Today, the aspiring authors use very often self publishing websites to get success. What do you think about this modern way to publish books?

Glenn Cooper: Actually I am a hybrid author myself. I am published by traditional, large publishers in Europe but in the States, after my first three traditionally published books did not achieve the level of success I had hoped for, I decided to start my own imprint and self publish. I’ve just launched four of my books, primarily as ebooks, and I’m enjoying the process and the economic results. So I can completely identify with authors who are trying to decide whether to self publish. If they decide to do it, it’s like starting your own publishing company, responsible for editing, cover design, production, distribution, marketing and sales. It’s enjoyable but time consuming.

Advicesbooks: What is your advice for new authors and how can they get a book released by a publisher?

Glenn Cooper: Today we are in the best of times and the worst of times in publishing. Publishers are feeling amazing economic pressures and they need to find what they think are really unique and fresh manuscripts they believe can be bestsellers and franchises. They are not as willing as they once were to cultivate talent and gradually build an audience. If a new author isn’t immediately successful, they can expect to be dropped. However, the world of self-publishing has opened up avenues that were not available before. Any author can now get his or her book out there fairly cheaply (good news), but finding an audience with hundreds of thousands of self-published titles flooding the market isn’t so easy (bad news). In the end, I like to think that really good books will find the oxygen they need to survive. And my advice is simple. Keep writing, keep improving, keep trying. You can’t succeed if you are not persistent.

Advicesbooks: Your latest book is The Resurrection Maker, another bestseller, we are sure. This book also follows the same style of writing: to match two different epochs. Could you reveal to us if this type of narration hides a particular meaning?

Glenn Cooper: All of us live with the echoes of the past invading our present. Our culture, our values, our beliefs, our hopes and our fears are built on layers of our collective history. So my favourite device of shifting time frames is merely an acknowledgment of this fundamental idea. Also, as a writer, it’s fun. If I get a bit bored writing about the present, in the next chapter I can lose myself in the 17th century. It prevents me from getting stale.

Source of the image: www.schibstedforlag.no

2 Comments

  • Joe A A Silmon-Monerri November 18, 2015 at 02:43

    Per l’Attenzione di Rosalba Mancuso e Colleghi:

    Molto interessante! C’e abbastanza evvidente che Glenn Cooper, come Lei indica sull’LINKEDIN, pubblica piu in Europa, quindi dato alla loro qualita de ricerca, dopo di leggere tanti libri su soggetti polifacettici, e anche dato a ogni tipi di lavoro nel loro passato (medicina, archeologia, epidemiologia, religione e storia de diverse tipi ed epoche, ecc.). Glenn Cooper é poliacademico. E cosi evvidente che nei Stati Uniti, gli lettori non apprezziano sufficentemente la loro opera; magari per che c’e piu facile leggere qualcosa che non ha una profondita letteraria tanto essata come la opera dello stesso Sig. Cooper. Soltananto nella Rete, si veddono tanti libri elettronici attrativi e diversi; per ché complicarsi la vita?
    Io penso che Glenn Cooper e arrivato alla megliore decissione, di radicarsi come scrittore in Europa. Grazzie tante per lasciarmi vedere questa interviu.
    Attenti saluti e buona serata. [Sorry, my Italian is so “rusty”, salvo errori ed omissioni]
    Joe A A Silmon-Monerri, Manchester, RU.

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