Talking With Celia Cooper
Topic: Author Interview
Celia Cooper the person:
1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
Loyal, passionate and artistic
2. How do you think others would describe you?
Reliable, loving, talented
3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
The ecology of my desert. People see it as a wasteland of sand and wind. I see the squirrels, chipmunks, eagles, kangaroo rats, rabbits, and yes, even snakes and coyotes that make this land teem with life. The Yucca draconis commonly known as the Joshua tree grows in only two places in the world: Israel and the Mojave Desert. All these **** developers who think this is a wasteland waiting for them to slap up poorly made, overpriced, elbow-to-elbow ticky tac housing projects to be filled with people the judicial system dumps here from the Los Angeles basin have people like myself with which to deal.
In the five years since I moved back, hundreds of acres have been lost to developers who have little respect for the life of the desert. The sad reality is that when it is gone-there is no recovery. Unfortunately, the people who should be taking action on this can't make themselves see past the bottom line.
Okay. Taking down the soapbox.
4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
I have a cat named Sancha. She is 16 years old, very spoiled and referred to as a "tuxedo" kitty. Her overall color is black, but she has a white chest, paws, and snout, and looks as if she is wearing a tuxedo-hence the name.
5. What is your most precious memory?
I have two very important memories. When I meet the man who is my husband, we both had been battered a bit by life so when he wanted me to meet his dad, I was a bit wary. He'd just lost his mom and his father was the litmus test of whether I was keeper or not. His parents were divorced and his dad had remarried so I was going to be "tested" by Dad and stepmom. When we arrived at their home ( I was very uncomfortable as the home was extraordinarily beautiful, big and furnished with antiques), it took all of 30 minutes for me to fall in love with my future father-in-law and his wife.
The memory is of 6 years later. My husband and I moved back from paradise (lived in Hawaii, Oahu, for 2 ½ years) when we learned my father-in-law was terminally ill. We didn't know how long he had but we were going to spend the time being close. As the end came near, this sinewy, athletic man was reduced to a bed and breathing tube by his body but his mind was razor sharp.
I had been persistent enough (read nagging) to get my husband to go back to school to get his GED. Of the 4 boys in the family, only 1 had graduated from high school. When we brought the document to the nursing home and showed my father-in-law. It was a red-letter day in that he had been taken off the breathing tube and could speak clearly again and my husband had passed his GED. Disagreements of nearly two decades fell by the wayside. My father-in-law's eyes shone with pride.
My mother-in-law and I "took a walk" to let the two talk.
The second, most personal, moment was December 18, 2005. After a day in her art studio, my mom had noted she was going to lie on her lounge chair and take a nap. As my husband and I had been visiting and were on our way out, anyway, I leaned down and kissed her lightly on the cheek telling her I loved her. She smiled and put her hand on my cheek and told me she loved me.
Four days later, she was hit and killed crossing the street to go to choir practice at her church. When I get to missing her, I think of that moment. I'm glad I got to tell her I loved her.
6. What is your most embarrassing memory?
To the best of my recollection-I had gone out after work and had one, no about five, too many without eating. I proceeded to throw up on the street in front of the Marriott Downtown in Portland, Oregon. Thankfully, my co-workers were discreet enough not to say anything. I was going through a very difficult period in my life and I think they understood.
7. If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
Working to make ends meet and pursuing the art of Middle Eastern dance. I started taking lessons on a dare to myself as I'm waaay too many pounds over my healthful weight. I knew I couldn't handle ballet or tap and wanted something that would celebrate the art of dance. I was a little hesitant, what with the preconceived notion I harbored, but having done some hula, I liked the flow of the dance. I've been able to isolate the movement of my individual body parts all my life.
Taking Middle Eastern dance, I learned several things-most countries in the Middle East celebrate women with meat on their bones, and the truth of "belly dancing" is that the moves were designed to assist a woman through labor (the original dance).
In the Middle East, men dance with men and women dance with women. It has to do with custom and faith. Professional belly dancers are for the tourists. It is a fascinating artform that celebrates the being not the body.
8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Christie L. Kraemer, writing as Celia Cooper, spent a lifetime experiencing the world. She traveled the country learning new customs and appreciation for new places. Finding her "soul mate" later in life, they continued the journey. She discovered her muse later than most but once the floodgates opened, she was a prolific writer leaving a legacy of fantasy, romance, and mystery books. Fortunate enough to have her very first novel published, she continued the family tradition of paying forward by mentoring those who wanted to write but needed a little push. She gave seminars to help others traverse the publishing maze and encouraged all.
She was proceeded in death by her husband of 60 years, Lawrence, and leaves behind a brother, Gordon Cooper, a sister, Shawneen Staley and her husband Jim; 3 nieces and 3 nephews, numerous grandnieces and grandnephews, and too many friends to list.
Celia Cooper the writer:
9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?
When I had entered a contest on the Diet Coke website- "Living life to the fullest"- and put together a story of 750 words. I sent it off and promptly forgot it as the contest was international, and I figured my chances were slim-to-none.
I had written a piece for my father-in-law, bed bound by a terminal illness after a life of activity, where he was able to get up, take a shower by himself, cook breakfast and take a walk with his cherished dog.
I was at my state accounting job and my husband phoned. He got off earlier than I and worked at the apartment complex where we lived. He told me we had this large envelope from New York addressed to me. My first response was "Who's suing us?" After a minute or two of baiting, I told him to open the envelope. He read the letter aloud to me and it was then I realized I was a "real" writer.
My story had been selected as one of 25 finalists out of approximately 700 entries. While I wasn't the big winner who went to New York and pitched a book idea to publishers, I felt pretty good about my writing. One of the reasons was the judges used by the contest: Maeve Binchy, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen, Mark & Chrissy Donnally, Elmore Leonard, Nora Roberts, and Lisa Scottoline.
The public relations house sent us guidelines on doing TV interviews and, in a conference call, told us that the judges kept coming back to our 25 stories; it was the push I needed to open the door to the possibilities of writing.
10. What is going on with your writing these days?
Unfortunately, making ends meet to pay bills has taken the forefront in my life, but I try to get tukus in chair and write at least one page a day.
I have a story published under my C.L. Kraemer name involving a reverse Sleeping Beauty premise with dragons. My husband was so thrilled with it (he doesn't read much on his own. His ADD puts a damper on long novels with intricate plotlines.), he asked me to expand the story. Well, one novel became three and I promised him this last Christmas that I would finish the novel before Christmas.
As I have a mystery book coming out in December that I'll need to start publicity in November, I have until October to finish this book. Throw in my stepson's wedding/our vacation in August and I need to be putting tukus to chair more often.
Someone suggested, after reading a portion of the first book in the trilogy that I start with the middle book, which I had been working on slowly, because the middle book takes place now. Consequently, the first book that will be published (fingers crossed here) will be the middle of the trilogy. Then I'll finish the prequel and continue on to the sequel.
11. What are your future goals for your writing?
I have a dozen startups that I want to finish. I have a romance oriented family trilogy and numerous fantasy-sci-fi stories waiting to be written. They all lurk in the back of my mind and occasionally come out in a dream to haunt me.
12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
I get up fairly late because I work swing shift at the newspaper and don't get home until 12:30 a.m. Like most, I'm wide awake and going to bed is not an option. If I'm being good, I'll sit and write for a couple hours. If things are normal, I'll do reading or copy editing for the publishing house where I work.
In the morning, I get up do housework, laundry, yardwork or walk then I come in and sit down for an hour or so and try to put hands to keyboard. If I find my muse is being lazy or doesn't want to come out and play, I'll go practice on my drumset to get the juices flowing.
13. Why do you write?
Because I can't not write. I realize that's a typical writer answer but there it is. Even if I was never to be published again, I would write. Now that I've found my passion, I revel in the feel of words to paper, characters that talk back to me and the amazement of sitting and reading something I've done and thinking, "Did I do that?"
14. What writer most inspires you? Why?
I must say I'm fascinated by the work of Dame Agatha Christie, and not because I suspect this is whom my mother named me after. Her work was lush and precise. She wound the reader through the story with deft expertise and, yet, sprinkled the clues in places so obvious that when she revealed the killer, you smacked yourself on the head and said, "Uh, I should have known!" She is one of the few writers I will reread. My memory, as of now, is very good and usually after the first paragraph or two of a book that I think I may have read, I'll know. If I've read it, I'll remember the ending.
Another is Mercedes Lackey. She creates fantasy worlds with such vividness the reader feels transported and doesn't doubt the laws of physics at all. (What we're supposed to do, isn't it?) Her stories have inspired me to write in the dragon genre even though it seems flooded.
15. How do you define your writing?
I don't like being defined, per se, witness my eclectic, gypsy life, but would say I write about real people in unusual situations. Not often you run into a dragon when you go camping in your favorite forest. My romance novels are about the guys and gals next door-a little older-but what many of us have become. For example, If Only is phrase everybody says but becomes more pronounced as you age...if only I would've married this guy instead of that one, if only I would've taken that promotion instead of moving to(you fill in the blank), if only I could go back and do it again...See what I mean? It becomes a mantra to many people.
My fantasy stories are crafted with, hopefully, my own twist on things. I'm a bit...different. My mind has a tendency to tweek situations. Phrases will induce an idea for a book. It usually begins with "what would happen if..." From that point, I'm usually scrambling to find something to write on if I haven't brought my notebook with me.
16. In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
I love her writing. When I found out she had other books, I bought them all. They have a special place in my library. She made me forget where I was for a while. She writes a good story.
Celia Cooper the details:
17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
I can be found at www.WingsePress.com . Look under authors for Celia Cooper (careful-there is a Janet Cooper, I'm Celia) and my website at www.celiacooper.freeservers.com .
18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?
I can be reached through my email but it is necessary to note in the subject line this is a reader question regarding for Celia Cooper or C. L. Kraemer, otherwise, I'll delete. Celia.email@example.com
19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Under the name ;C. L. Kraemer:
Cyre Drake, in the anthology, Enchanted Realms II from Xlibris;
Cats in the Cradle of Civilization from Wings ePress, Inc.
From Celia Cooper: (All from Wings ePress, Inc.)
Old Enough to Know Better (January 2003);
Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Mazatlan(June 2005);
If Only (April 2008)
20. For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
Characters that will make you think of a next-door neighbor, details that help you visualize but don't take away your ability to create your own backdrop; and, most importantly, a good story well told. When my stories become hackneyed, I'll take up rock n' roll drumming for the Stones.
21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
I was privileged to have a mother who emphasized reading above all. I grew up as the daughter of career marine and we traveled over the country. Money was tight and TV was in its infancy - there were only 1 ½ stations available to us through the antennae where we lived when I was a kid. My mom introduced us to the world of the library and helped me to escape reality through the written word.
I hope that my writing gives people pleasure and let's them "escape" for the time it takes to read my books. I would encourage them to read, not only my books but many different types of books. The act of reading makes a person slow down and take the time to breathe (unless you're reading Stephen King!). We all move too fast.
I will write until I can no longer move my fingers or speak into a microphone. I can only hope my books will maintain a high level of quality and entertainment.
And yes, I do put on my plus size jeans one leg at a time.
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at 9:50 AM EDT