Interview with David Cooper, author of 'Sackcloth, Ashes and Penance', a legal and political thriller
What first inspired you to write novels?
I worked out most of the structure for my debut novel Hatred Ridicule & Contempt, a legal suspense/thriller set in the early 90s, following a major unexpected professional affront over 15 years ago. The affront was suitable inspiration for the subplot involving underhand internal law firm politics (by profession I am a solicitor), while the main plot was focused on a libel trial from the defendant newspaper’s angle, variously featuring an aid convoy to Romania, a retired professional footballer turned charity organiser, an overenthusiastic rookie journalist, a blunt Yorkshireman tabloid editor and a legal historical background where libel defendants frequently ran scared of exorbitant Mickey Mouse awards. This was all well before the e-publishing boom, and I sadly left the whole project in a dusty recess for 11 years before I summoned up the motivation to complete it in 2011 and use the Kindle/Lulu route.
Which novelist most inspires you?
Robert Goddard. An absolute master of suspense, whether in a current or a historical setting. “Into The Blue” features a particularly despicable politician…
Why choose politics as a subject?
It has been a life long interest. All the more so when a natural reaction to many current events and recent history in the UK political arena would be “You couldn’t make it up” – some of it really does belong between the covers of a novel.
What led to the Conservative angle?
Apart from my own long held principles, it was fascinating to keep up with the differences of opinion from 2005 to 2010 between the party and Conservative Home (“that blasted website”) on the issue of candidate selection, the A-List, and the conflict between secrecy and openness. Along with some detailed background knowledge of my own, this material was just too good to neglect when I was thinking of a plot for the follow up novel that emerged as Sackcloth Ashes & Penance.
Tell me more about Sackcloth, Ashes & Penance.
It’s a legal/political suspense, with two converging plots. The legal side involves an attempt to defraud a solicitors’ firm via an ingenious scam, with solicitor Alex Harris – the main character from Hatred Ridicule & Contempt – reappearing 16 years on. At the same time his wife Susie, now a law professor, hears that their local Conservative MP is unexpectedly stepping down in dismay at the expenses scandal, and answers the call for ordinary people untainted by past membership of the political class to come forward as candidates. Little did she know what forces would be lined up against her….. I used the actual timeline of the 2010 General Election (taking the odd liberty here and there) to draw the plots ever closer.
Any more books on the horizon?
I have one or two themes in mind for another pure legal suspense/thriller – let’s see how much inspiration the year ahead will bring.
Most rewarding aspect of independent writing and e-publishing?
The sense of achievement when the finished work is out there, knowing that no traditional publisher or agent has been able to stand in the way and put a stop to it on an arbitrary whim.
And most frustrating?
The difficulty for every unknown author in breaking out of the vicious circle – you can’t get recommendations without readers, but you can’t get readers without recommendations. All the more so when traditional publishers would rather take the low risk approach with bulk promotion of ghost written “celeb” works that require little mental effort.
As an independent author, how useful do you find social media?
Very useful. Not just Twitter, where I am relieved to have overcome my initial scepticism (at least it did not extend to the PM’s historical terminology!), but also LinkedIn where the group discussions are always a good source of valuable tips, and the authors’ website Goodreads.
What would you most like to achieve from writing?
A film adaptation with Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer from 24) and Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway from Mad Men) in the lead roles? Joke….. Let’s be realistic. Appreciation from a traditional publisher, in the form of a book deal and all the associated promotion, would be ideal. In the meantime, a little wider recognition would be just fine.
Visit David's blog at http://davidcooperbooks.blogspot.co.uk/
Download 'Sackcloth, Ashes and Penance' from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sackcloth-Ashes-and-Penance-ebook/dp/B009JEBSDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358978532&sr=1-1
David's other novel, 'Hatred, Ridicule and Contempt' can also be downloaded from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hatred-Ridicule-Contempt-David-Cooper/dp/1471053288/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358978514&sr=1-3#
You can also follow David on Twitter: