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Local author's debut novel becomes a national bestseller

Glenn Cooper (click for larger version)
September 09, 2009
Glenn Cooper, an author and part time resident of Gilford, can now officially call himself a writer after spending 12 years of his life writing screenplays and a novel in between juggling a hefty day job.

Cooper once delved into archeology, medicine, and corporate medicine, all experiences that lead him to his bestselling debut thriller novel, "Secret of the Seventh Son."

Since Cooper's novel is international, the U.S. is the twelfth to fourteenth market that the novel has sold through, which usually works the other way around in the world of books. "Secret of the Seventh Son," titled originally "Library of the Dead" in the European market, landed him about a dozen book deals, with over 200,000 books shipped in each market.

Cooper's book remains a bestseller on the European market and was received surprisingly well in the U.K. said Cooper, perhaps because the book is partly placed in England and Cooper also lived in England for part of his life. Although his novel was launched seven different times to almost forty different countries with 26 languages, the U.S. has still received Cooper's thriller with acceptance, which has stayed in the top 10 for the last 14 weeks, which is the equivalent of a million sales, said Cooper.

Cooper's novel incorporates different eras, philosophy, and religion into his one thriller and makes complex connections in a structure that Cooper said he thought of for years and years. The plot begins with a string of killings in modern New York. These killings seem to have no pattern at first, yet in the end, all the answers come together, said Cooper.

"It's been a tremendous amount of fun watching it roll out in other countries. A contemporary book has a certain feel to it, it is culturally sensitive," said Cooper.

Cooper admitted he did not always consider himself to be a writer, and went to school for archaeology and medicine at Harvard and Tufts Medical School, and then took a few film courses when he became more interested in screenwriting.

"It is hard to say when the proper time is to call yourself a legitimate writer. I think being published is when you cross the line. Novel writing is a new thing for me," said Cooper, who has dappled with writing since the late 1980s.

Cooper said he was initially interested in screenwriting because he loved movies and liked writing so he decided to try a hand at a novel as well after selling his script, "Long Distance" which sold at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and was purchased by over thirty countries. Although Cooper had some success with his screenplays, he said he wanted to broaden his horizon with his next screenplay and turned it into "The Secret of the Seventh Son" instead.

"I understand screenplays a little better than novels. The novel started out as a screenplay and I didn't want to do another big one. I found the common ground between the two formats. Novel writing is more solitary. A screenplay is more collaborative. With a screenplay, it is up to the producer and the directors to bring the scenes to light. A writer brings a story and dialogue," said Cooper, who has had the advantage of acquiring strong dialogue in his writing thanks to the structure of a screenplay.

Cooper said some thriller writers are strictly good at plot and can pass on dialogue, but he finds dialogue to be significant in his writing because most screenwriters acquire a taste for literary fiction.

"Especially in commercial fiction, characters can be wooden," he said. "Sometimes a thriller depends on everything else, but if you're not excellent at those things, dialogue can ruin a story. I'm getting good with dialogue. Screenwriting gave me an advantage and confidence."

Although Cooper's first published novel was a big success, he said his success didn't come so easily at first, since all his writing connections were in L.A. and not the central area of publishing in New York City.

"The novel took a year to write with my day job, which means you don't have hobbies. Luckily I don't play golf and my family is tolerant," Cooper said, adding that it only takes him three to four months to finish a screenplay.

Cooper also did not have an agent and sent out about sixty old-fashioned query letters to agents, in hopes they would like his novel pitch and pick him up as a client. Cooper said his proposal really must have stood out because Harper Collins and Random House were two big publishing companies that worked with Cooper out of New York City.

Even though Cooper did not have an agent when first pursuing the book, he knew what he was doing right off the bat with his choice of genre. He said if he was going to write big, he wanted to sell his product big, which meant selling his novel on the mainstream market after spending so much time on it.

"Good publishers think of making a career for you. On any marketing campaign you try to create a brand," said Cooper, who considers his novel to be a strictly cold, calculating thriller.

Cooper said he would always go back to screenwriting if his full time job as a novelist didn't pan out, but thinks he is going to stick with this trade for a while and has recently finished another book that may be published in the near future.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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