Thursday, November 10, 2011
Introducing Cara Cooper
Welcome to Cara Cooper
Hi Cara, I remember when we first met at a pink castle in Scotland; both of us were attending a writing course. It proved to be a lot of fun, did you gain anything useful from it? That castle was SO romantic and the food delicious.
Hi I did gain lots from that course. As you recall it was about writing for Mills and Boon. Although I haven’t been successful with them yet, they really know how to give their readers what they want. Above all, that course explained to me how internal conflict which is the baggage that we carry around from our own personal histories helps to prevent us forming relationships sometimes with people who are perfect for us, our own personal heroes! Working through that baggage is the life blood of many romances.
Cara you explained internal conflict perfectly.
You write Pocket Novels, for those in the States who might not know what these are, could you tell us a little about them?
They are novellas, around half the size of a mainstream book so you can happily sit down and polish one in an afternoon over a cup of coffee and cake and get an instant romance fix. Some have elements of suspense – maybe a crime that has to be solved. Some are historical – the Regencies are very popular. They are sweet romances, stopping at the bedroom door but they still have passionate moments and the contemporary ones are about today’s women. In ‘Leaving Home,’ my heroine faced the challenge of planning a new life in New York but had to deal with the sudden arrival of her estranged sister’s baby as well as choose between two men vying for her affections. In ‘Tango at Midnight’, another heroine with her own cupcake company has a dark secret hidden for years which the hero threatens to uncover. Pocket novels are always feel good stories that give the reader an instant lift and which you could happily share with your mother, grandmother or teenage daughter. What’s more, they fit very nicely in a handbag for that long journey or morning at the beach. Many are now being published as e-books.
Writing Pocket Novels you have to be strict on the word count, do you plan your story within the time frame or do you have to cut, and then cut some more?
I think I’ve got it down to a fine art now having written six and with a seventh in the pipeline. I tend to be very strict with myself and keep the word count way down so that I can add if necessary. Adding I always find easier than taking elements away!
Funnily enough it is the reverse with me. I hate adding, much prefer taking away.
I know you sometimes write historical romance. Regency is very popular, why do you think that is? I write Medieval but the Regency period surpasses any other period in popularity.
You’re so right Margaret. I often visit relatives in Hampshire, very close to Jane Austen’s house. Even the buildings with their red brick and beautiful gardens ooze the charm of the Regency period. I think the popularity stems from the notion that it was a gentler time, a slower time but where people faced considerable challenges – women to make their mark in a male dominated world and men to fight for what they considered to be right. There is endless fascination too in thinking what a world would be like without cars, planes and computers – all the stresses and strains of the modern world can be lost in the fantasy of historical novels.
You are so right about stresses and strains. I find the mobile phone is something to struggle with in contemporary suspense novels. Makes it far harder than when writing an historical.
When did you first start to write – what was your inspiration to be a writer?
Gosh I don’t know, I just always have written. I think it really stems from a love of books and reading in general. I am never without a book in my handbag or a notebook to write down ideas, character traits or descriptions of settings. I was in St James’s Street the other day visiting the Carlton Club, a genuine gentleman’s club in the heart of London. The best bit though was the shops around it which were perfect for a historical setting. There was William Evans, ‘purveyors of country clothing, gun and rifle maker’ established in 1883, the club itself with its bootscraper at the door and even a man smoking a cigar on the pavement. I’d only have had to close my eyes and I would have been back in the past. I guess, to answer your question, London is a huge inspiration it’s so full of life and people there’s always something to write about.
You have such a busy life, a career, a husband and daughter, you are a prolific writer, how do you fit it all in?
I wait until they’ve all gone off to work and school and make sure I have nothing to do for an hour each day but write. Little and often is better than huge dollops of writing every now and then. You have to be disciplined and the writing muscle is one that has to be exercised regularly.
I do know that you met your husband while learning the tango. I think that SO romantic, was it really romantic? The Tango is the dance of love, meeting like this is straight out of a romantic novel, was it like that?
Amazingly, yes! Some of the music is wonderful and we have actually tango’d across St Mark’s Square in Venice in the rain - very badly, we’re not terribly good but the music was drifting out of a nearby hotel and we couldn’t resist it
How wonderful, that is real romance, Cara, you lucky lady.
I believe you are setting up a blog, perhaps you would like to give details here.
Yes, I have recently got together with other Pocket Novel writers to set up thepocketeers.blogspot.com we welcome all visitors and comments and have posted about anything from our favourite romantic heroes to where we get our ideas from.
What have you going at the moment?
At the moment I am busy with the third installment of a serial for the magazine People’s Friend set in Sorrento in Italy and am doing edits for a pocket novel with a desert island setting. It’s no surprise that it’s cold and rainy in London at the moment so I guess I am escaping to the sun! Thank you so much Margaret for the opportunity to appear here at the Lark Journals, it’s been a real privilege and I hope to welcome you to the Pocketeers blog soon.
Ah wonderful Sorrento, I went there too, such a romantic city. Thank you so much for being here today, have really enjoyed talking with you and wish you lots of luck with all your writing ventures.
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