I am delighted to introduce today’s guest blogger, author Glenn Cooper!
About My Books
by Glenn Cooper
A few years ago Publisher’s Weekly Magazine ran a piece on me titled, Glenn Cooper: An American Writer Only Europeans Can Love? While the article was factually correct, the title stung a bit (though I was glad they included a question mark). The gist of it was that while my debut and first few thrillers were big bestsellers throughout Europe, they hardly registered on the Richter scale in the US. European authors are used to this state of affairs and grumble about the difficulty breaking into the American market, but hey—I was born in New York City, I grew up in White Plains, I went to school in Boston, I live in New Hampshire (okay, I’m married to a Brit). What gives?
Fast forward to today. If the article were written now, what title would the magazine use? Let me think…the same one. I’ve had seven thrillers published and all of them have been on the top-ten bestseller lists throughout Europe and I can’t get arrested in this country. Again I ask, what gives?
In fact, it’s the most-asked question I get when I’m on tour in Europe—why is it that your books are big here and not at home? I have a number of stock answers: Most of my books are based in Europe and are populated by European characters. I write about historical and religious themes that resonate with European readers. Europeans are intelligent and good-looking and their children are all above average. But the truth is, I’m not really sure. However, I suspect the real reason lies with the way I’ve been published here vs. abroad.
Most of my European publishers have chosen, right from the start, to publish my books in hard cover. Now, I’ve got nothing against trade paperbacks or mass market paperbacks, or e-books, or any books. But there’s something solid about a good old hard cover book. It got all that built-in tradition, gravitas. And most importantly, hard backs get the attention of a species now almost as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker, the newspaper book reviewer. So, when my first book, Library of the Dead, came out in Italy, the esteemed literary critic, Antonio D’Orrico who writes for the newspaper, Corriere della Sera picked it up and, gulp, liked it, I mean he really liked it. Here’s what he said, and I quote: Library of the Dead is “one of the best-constructed novels I’ve read in my over-14-years as a book critic.” Guess what? The next week the book was number three on the bestseller lists.
Meanwhile. Back at the ranch, the same book was published as a mass market paperback with I title I hated but couldn’t change:The Secret of the Seventh Son. A major publisher was behind it, but without publicity or reviews it faded fast. I might add that in the stone-age era of 2009 there weren’t many bloggers so there wasn’t much chance for me to get out there myself and pitch.
So here we are in 2014 and here are my stats: I’ve had over 6 million books sold worldwide, the vast majority outside the United States.
Rather than spend all my time moaning about how miserably my books have been published in America I’ve decided to join the revolution and self-publish in the States through my own imprint, Lascaux Media. Now the only one I’ll be able to moan about is myself, which will serve me right. I’ve got four thrillers which haven’t been published yet in the US and I’ll be releasing them over the coming year, one every three months, in e-book and trade paperback formats. (I know, I know, I was just singing the praise of hard backs, but in the self-publishing world, they don’t make sense economically).
So, as I introduce myself anew to US readers, I’d like to say a few words about my background, the kinds of books I write and why I write them.
I have a degree from Harvard in archaeology and decided at the last minute, after taking the bare-minimum pre-med requirements, to go into medicine. I graduated from Tufts Medical School then trained in Internal Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and in Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. After practicing medicine for a while and doing some tropical medicine in Thailand and Haiti I went into medical research. For almost twenty years I was the Chairman and CEO of a successful biotech company in Massachusetts. All the while I had a rather unremarkable sideline of writing unproduced screenplays before trying my hand at novels.
So, you might think that my books were medically-themed thrillers but you’d be wrong. I always found that subject matter too much like my day job and hence too much like work. However, I do like thrillers very much, particularly high-minded ones by my personal faves like John Le Carré, Michael Crichton, Graham Greene, and Umberto Eco. I also enjoy thinking and writing about philosophical and religious ideas and my books tackle a number of juicy topics. The trilogy which has already been published in the US, Library of the Dead, Book of Souls, and Keepers of the Library is about fate and predestination. My first US self-published title, The Tenth Chamber, is about the possibilities of longevity.The Devil Will Come, is an exploration on the nature of evil. Near Death is about near death experiences and the afterlife. The Resurrection Maker is about the intersection of science and faith.
Conspiracy is a common thread running through my books, particularly the notion of a past event, profound in nature, that ripples through time to impact a modern protagonist. I’m not the first writer to employ shifting time frames, but I’ve tried to make the technique very much my own and tell my stories by interlacing two or more historical time frames with the present to give an immediacy to the past. So in The Tenth Chamber, a modern story based in France and England intertwines with stories of medieval and prehistorical intrigue. The world as we know it today stands on the shoulders of the past and my books try to pay homage to that.
In a year I’m going to do a post-mortem on my initial self-publishing experience. I’d very much like the title of a future article on my books to be, Glenn Cooper: An American Writer Who Finally Came Home.
About The Tenth Chamber
From the thriller writer, Glenn Cooper, whose books have sold six million copies and have been top-ten bestsellers, comes a novel which draws on the author’s background in medicine and archaeology to create a riveting page-turner.
Abbey of Ruac, rural France – A medieval script is discovered hidden behind an antique bookcase. Badly damaged, it is sent to Paris for restoration, and there literary historian Hugo Pineau begins to read the startling fourteenth-century text. Within its pages lies a fanciful tale of a painted cave and the secrets it contains – and a rudimentary map showing its position close to the abbey. Intrigued, Hugo enlists the help of archaeologist Luc Simard and the two men go exploring.
When they discover a vast network of prehistoric caves, buried deep within the cliffs, they realize that they’ve stumbled across something extraordinary. And at the very core of the labyrinth lies the most astonishing chamber of all, just as the manuscript chronicled. Aware of the significance of their discovery, they set up camp with a team of experts, determined to bring their find to the world. But as they begin to unlock the ancient secrets the cavern holds, they find themselves at the centre of a dangerous game. One ‘accidental’ death leads to another. And it seems that someone will stop at nothing to protect the enigma of the tenth chamber.
About the author:
Glenn Cooper has a degree in archaeology from Harvard and practiced medicine as an infectious diseases specialist. He was the CEO of a biotechnology company for almost twenty years, has written numerous screenplays and has produced three independent feature films. His novels have sold six million copies in thirty-one languages. He lives in Gilford, New Hampshire.