Tuesday 11 February 2014

My author in the spotlight is ...Carol Cooper

I am delighted to welcome 

Author of

November 2013

*~Carol ~ welcome to jaffareadstoo ~*

Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for One Night at the Jacaranda?

I was sitting on a plane with a gin and tonic, bound for New York and my father's funeral, when the idea for a plot popped into my head. So  I began scribbling on the paper napkin.  I then worked on the story over the next few months. Maybe the spur was the fact that my father had always wanted to write, though he never did, apart from a couple of chapters in books on life insurance.  It took me a while to finish One Night at the Jacaranda because I had commissions for two non-fiction books around that time, but I'm glad I persevered.  Dad would have been proud of me, even if the novel itself would have shocked him.

What do you love about writing?

I love using words, and I relish the challenge of using ordinary words to say extraordinary things.  Plus you can write anytime, even if feeling miserable. Writing is the perfect escape when things aren't going my way.

Do you write stories for yourself, or other people?

A bit of both.  Of course, I write stories that I hope people like and will identify with.  But it also has to be the kind of story I'd most like to read myself.  The legendary crime writer Ruth Rendell once told me that if your own writing makes you cry or gets you aroused, then you know you've hit the spot.

What books do you like to read?

I like fiction with colourful characters that I can care about, with realistic dialogue, and a pacy plot that keeps me on my toes.  If there are long passages of description, I usually skim over them.  I read a lot of chick-lit as well as Kate Atkinson, Tony Parsons and Harlan Coben. They're all master story-tellers, and just as importantly they know when to stop.

What next?

Many readers have commented that the characters in One Night at the Jacaranda cry out to have their lives play out in another novel.  I'm therefore working on a sequel, but there's also a prequel simmering away in my head.  It will go back 15 years, to when some of the characters were students.  I loved being at university, so there are loads of ideas for this bubbling away already.

Thank you so much for joining us today Carol, Jaffa and I look forward to seeing the sequel to 


My Thoughts on One Night at the Jacaranda

During the eponymous one night at the Jacaranda, four very different individuals come together for a speed dating evening. In three minute conversation bursts, lives are laid bare, hidden hopes, fears and failings are brushed away, and the bright veneer of high expectation gathers momentum. The observation of such a night creates fodder for undercover journalist Harriet, who is only there to raise enough copy for her next piece of writing, and yet unwittingly gets drawn into the whole premise of what happens next.

The story is cleverly written and exposes the lives of the characters as they slowly interact in the aftermath of their first meeting, and although on the surface they have nothing in common, gradually common bonds are realised and as the different strands of the story come together, what is revealed are lives blighted by secrets, lies, hidden terrors and unfulfilled dreams.

My initial impression of the story was that it would be a light and frothy chick lit type of romance but I couldn't have been more wrong. What I got was a warm-hearted and compassionate story about the vagaries of modern life, written in a lively and fun style. Undoubtedly, the writer has a real skill with words, her ability to tell a good story really shines through and her affection for, and understanding of, her characters make this a commendable debut novel.



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