Bookpleasures.com today is excited to have as our guest internationally bestselling thriller author, Glenn Cooper.
Glenn was born in New
York City and grew up in nearby White Plains. He attended White
Plains High School before enrolling at Harvard University in
Cambridge, Massachusetts where he graduated from Harvard with an
honors degree in archaeology. He then attended Tufts University
School of Medicine and did his post-doctoral training at the New
England Deaconess and the Massachusetts General Hospitals becoming a
board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine and Infectious
After practicing medicine, Glenn began a research
career in the pharmaceutical industry which culminated in an
eighteen-year position as the Chairman and CEO of a biotechnology
company in Massachusetts.
Glenn began writing screenplays over twenty years ago and his interest in movies prompted him to attend the graduate program in film production at Boston University. He is currently the chairman of a media company, Lascaux Media, which has produced three independent feature-length films.
In 2006 Glenn turned his hand to novel-writing. His debut novel, THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD, the first in a trilogy, became an international bestseller and was translated into thirty languages. All of his seven published books have become top-ten international best-sellers. Glenn currently lives in New Hampshire.
Norm: Good day Glenn
and thank for participating in our interview. How did you get started
in writing? What keeps you going?
Glenn: I started writing screenplays when I was in my thirties. I had a pretty demanding day job as a physician and a medical researcher and for a part-time writer, screenplays seemed a lot less daunting than novels. Over twenty years I wrote about twenty scripts and though they got better with time to the point where some of them were getting optioned, I wasn't achieving enough success to keep me energized.
In 2006 I started, maybe
my twenty-first script, a big-budget thriller which had about a zero
chance of selling and decided to stop the madness and try something
even madder -- re-writing it as a novel, my first. That book was
LIBRARY OF THE DEAD, which generated amazing advances in thirty
translations and went on to sell two million copies. Suffice it to
say, I haven't written another script. I'm currently writing my ninth
book in eight years. The thing that most sustains me in that pace is
fan reaction, I have an intimate connection with my readers via
social media and book tours and nothing motivates me more than
positive reactions to my work, especially from teenagers and young
adults in countries all around the world.
Norm: What helps you focus when you write? Do you find it easy reading back your own work?
Glenn: I try to focus on making each sentence and each piece of dialogue the best I can write. I like to revise my work continuously. I'll polish at the end of every session then take a day or two each month to polish chapters. Focusing on the quality of the writing is really important to me.
Norm: Do you work from an outline?
Glenn: I write rather complicated thrillers with interlacing plot lines so if I didn't spend a lot of time outlining I'd get hopelessly lost and would never find my way home. That said, I don't like to over-outline because that stifles the unexpected pleasures and benefits of spontaneity. I love it when characters do or say something "unexpected."
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer?
Glenn: Any writer who is one but not the other is half a writer in my humble opinion. My books tend to revolve around compelling philosophical themes like fate and predestination, notions of the afterlife, the nature of good versus evil, so I start with a "big idea" then layer in complex characters, often with significant flaws. Most of my favorite people are rather complex and flawed!
Norm: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Glenn: Well, my books are all heavily researched which is a challenge, I suppose, but also a major pleasure. I get to buy books, dozens of books on history, geography, culture for each novel, and best of all I get to read them. And then, when I'm done, I get to add them to my large home library which is my favorite place to write. My house is one of the oldest in the country (c. 1669) and my library is extremely cool.
Norm: Do you have a specific writing style?
Glenn: I've evolved my own style, heavily influenced by all the years I spent writing screenplays. Dialogue and pace are the twin pillars of most good screenplays and I make them the pillars of my novels too.
Norm: What do you see as the influences on your writing?
Glenn: I grew up deeply immersed in great writers. John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, John Fowles, William Faulkner, Evelyn Waugh, John Le Carré. These were writers who wrote achingly beautiful prose. I try to think about their descriptive power when I write.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Glenn: Not everyone who wants to be a commercially successful writer will make it. It takes more than desire. It also takes talent. But writing talent, with the rare exception of a preternatural genius, has to be cultivated, which always means hard work. If you think you can write, then you've got to write. A lot. Every day. And when you and your trusted readers think you're ready, try to get an agent. Don't take the path of least resistance and self-publish right off the bat. It's always there as a back-up strategy. New writers usually need agents and editors to help them along. And don't lay down and die with rejection. I sent out 66 query letters and only one agent said yes, and the rest was history.
Norm: What has been the best part about being published?
Glenn: Having more than your immediate family reading your stuff.
Norm: Did you read any special books on how to write?
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for your latest book, THE TENTH CHAMBER?
Glenn: I have a background in archaeology and medicine and THE TENTH CHAMBER married both interests and expertises. My area in archaeology was the stone age and I was always fascinated with Lascaux Cave and other prehistoric painted caves in France and Spain. Getting deeply immersed in the symbology of cave painting, and revisiting the Perigord region of France for research (I know, tough assignment) was more fun than I've ever had in writing.
Norm: Could you tell our audience a little about the book and what would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read the book?
Glenn: A prehistoric painted cave holds a mystery so explosive and deadly that the residents of the rural village of Ruac will do anything to prevent Luc Simard and his team of archaeologists from unlocking the secret of the cave's fantastic tenth chamber, a secret with ripples from prehistoric and medieval France.
Any lover of archaeology, historical and conspiracy thrillers will, I hope, find this book utterly fascinating and difficult to put down.
Norm: What is next for Glenn Cooper?
Glenn: Readers in the US will soon see three new novels, THE DEVIL WILL COME, NEAR DEATH, and THE RESURRECTION MAKER, all of which were top-ten bestsellers in Europe. My first trilogy (LIBRARY OF THE DEAD, BOOK OF SOULS, and THE KEEPERS OF THE LIBRARY - HarperCollins) is in development for a TV series which is exciting. And, I'm mid-way through a new trilogy which I can't wait to tell you about.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Glenn: GLENN COOPER BOOKS and WIKIPEDIA
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Glenn: Which are the three largest markets for my books? Italy, Spain, and France which is a bit odd for an American writer, no? Believe me, I'm working on getting the US into the top three!
Norm:Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors