With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!
Sophie Littlefield: So let’s get the basics out of the way first. You write, I write. You’re the much, much older east coast sibling and I’m the fun-loving west coast one. We both have kids and we both grew up with our noses in books. What else should people know about us to start off with?
Mike Cooper: We’re bicoastal now but we started in Missouri! – and in a much different time, when children were allowed freedoms that seem extraordinary to me now. My memory, perhaps unreliable, is that we were completely unsupervised after school and on weekends. The woods and fields just over the backyard fence were a place of fantastical play: ponds to swim in and skate on, the cemetery and the quarry, the derelict airport with runways like the Bonneville Salt Flats. How could we not become people who live by our imaginations?
Of course, my stories involve ruthless banksters and exploding helicopters, and some of yours have decidedly noir, even dark elements. In some ways our lives were difficult and complicated, and that’s as essential as the sunny memories.
We both came to write seriously somewhat later in our lives. In my case it was after my daughter was born – my wife and I decided that I’d be the stay-at-home parent, and what with two naps a day, I suddenly had time to try what had been only a hobby. (I took one of those naps myself, true.) I recall you publishing stories, fiction and non-fiction, for many years before you buckled down to novels. What was the impetus?
SL: I think the better question is, “What took you so long?” And the answer, of course, is fear. I’m astonished at how much I’ve given away to fear over the years. Oh well, middle age took care of that in a hurry. My first novel was tentative, limp, diluted, and derivative. But I learned something from it and from every one that followed, until I finally ended up writing a novel with teeth.
Nowadays, I seek out opportunities to be brave. Lots of extra points if someone chokes on their coffee when I propose a new project. For instance, when I first told my agent my idea for my January ’13 book (A GARDEN OF STONES, MIRA) the pitch was “Japanese internment in WWII, plus taxidermy.” I stubbornly believe there is an audience out there that longs to be challenged.
Which reminds me. Do you remember when you wrote that short story a few years ago and I read it and told you “that story’s a best-seller for sure, drop everything and turn it into a novel”? And then you spent the next few months writing and polishing and submitting it? Continue reading ›