Morning lovelies. I’m excited to be back with a Meet the Author post for you today. I’m chatting with Carol Cooper about inspiration, the 60’s, superpowers, childhood dreams, her most recent book, The Girls from Alexandra and more…….
Contemporary fiction and historical fiction
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Born in London, I was eight months old when I went to live in Alexandria where my mother came from. For the next 18 years, I lived abroad. I was a doctor and journalist long before I became an author. After a string of non-fiction books (some inspired by having twins), I turned to writing novels, as I’d secretly always longed to do. I now teach medical students at Imperial College, live with my husband in Cambridge and London, and have three grown up sons, three stepchildren, and a beautiful ginger cat called Mishmish.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
My mother was a writer, so I have her to thank for inspiring me as a young child. I got into trouble for scribbling on the walls but she soon gave me paper. As ever, I get my ideas from everywhere because I’m always observing and absorbing what goes on around me. In my work, I hear many inspiring stories, but you’ll be relieved to know that I’d never put a real patient (or colleague) in a book.
How many books have you written and published?
I’ve had three novels published so far, plus ten or so books on health and parenting, and two medical textbooks. My first two novels, One Night at the Jacaranda and Hampstead Fever, are both modern stories and feature a motley group of Londoners looking for love. The Girls from Alexandria is my latest. Set in Egypt, the story has a dual timeline and follows the search of one woman for her missing sister and her own roots.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
The Girls from Alexandria. It was pure joy reliving my childhood in Alexandria. The plot is fiction, of course, but the atmosphere owes everything to my early years. Luckily I have a good memory.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
I’d choose Nadia’s father from The Girls from Alexandria. He’s kind and intelligent and has a range of DIY tools. In the novel, he takes appliances apart whether they need it or not. I think he might be good at survival techniques. Failing that, he’d be excellent company.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I hoped to become a writer like my mother, but I also went through a major phase of wanting to be an astronaut. I actually became a doctor, and then started writing articles and appearing on TV alongside my medical work.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go and why? (Backwards or forwards!)
Easy. I’d go back to the Sixties. The best music and fashion ever, plus civil rights, women’s lib, space exploration, an upheaval of the status quo – and did I mention the music?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
It would be nice to have endless time, but most of all I would love to have unlimited energy. There are so many more things I want to do, like writing a lot more novels, travelling, and doing more charity work. Maybe, if I really had energy, I’d also declutter my filing cabinet.
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
All three are equally important to me. There are so many new books being published, and I know just how precious reading time can be. To lure a reader, a novel should have all three elements and be the best it can be.
What’s the first thing you can remember writing?
Apart from my name, the first thing I remember writing was a story I made up when I was about seven. The main character was a witch who ended up dying in a fire because she was smoking in bed. That may have been the first example of my fiction. Then again, it could have been the forerunner of the health articles I’ve written over the years.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
The Girls from Alexandria is about Egyptian-born Nadia who is now 70. She’s in a London hospital because she’s losing her mind, for reasons her doctors can’t fathom. Unless she tracks down her sister, who’s her last remaining relative, she’ll end up in a care home. The snag is that her sister disappeared 50 years ago, and all Nadia has to go on is a bunch of old postcards and her own vivid memories of life in Alexandria. To make things worse, nobody quite believes her sister even exists. Think Elizabeth is Missing crossed with The Alexandria Quartet and you’ll get an idea of the flavour.
thanks so much Carol for chatting with me!
If you have any questions or comments, make sure you get in touch!
Have a great day and I’ll be back this evening.