Doug Cooper is the author of the award-winning novel Outside In and The Investment Club available October 2016. He has a BS in Mathematics Education from Miami University and a MA in American Studies from Saint Louis University. Always searching, he has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, he has also called Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, and Oslo, Norway home. He now lives in Cleveland working on his third novel Focus Lost.
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About the Book:
Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.
As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.
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Would you call yourself a born writer?
I think people who are artists are born that way and spend their lives finding then honing a craft to share their message and perspective. For me, I’ve always been drawn to words, and ironically, math. Those have always been my main interests and how I make sense of the world. The affinity for math actually helps a lot with the building and structuring of stories. The math and verbal are not mutually exclusively as much as people might think.
What was your inspiration for The Investment Club?
The typical Vegas story — the bachelor party, wedding, or other two to three-day excursion has been overdone. During a visit and seeing all the tourists and extravagant entertainment, I looked past the glitz and became interested in the people who lived there — were they born there, what brought them there, why did they stay? I wanted to tell the stories of several people from different backgrounds who had moved there. I rotated the points of view from character to character but kept the story anchored in the common perspective of a native blackjack dealer, while contrasting the concepts of gambling and investing from a financial and personal angle.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I look to what’s happening in the world for the themes to use in my writing and build the story around them. In my first novel, Outside In, I envisioned a cross between The Catcher in the Rye and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Whereas Catcher is about how to enter adulthood without losing oneself and Fear and Loathing deals with finding the American Dream by destroying and abusing the symbols of American consumerism, Outside In proposes identity can’t be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go. Self-medication and excess were prevalent themes, and I used a lot of Erik Erikson’s “Quarter Life Crisis”.
For The Investment Club, I’m doing a lot with the concepts of investing and gambling but more on a personal than financial sense. To reinforce this theme, I start every chapter with the Dow Jones open and end the chapter with the Dow Jones close. The rising and falling of the numbers also mirrors the action and reminds us that we have good and bad days. The important thing is that the overall trend is heading in the right direction over time. I also use the characters’ hand motions to convey a lot of the action to represent the importance of helping hands, which ties to the overall personal investing theme.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
I moved to Vegas to write the story. I spent about a year doing the research while I promoted my first novel. It only took me about six months to write the first draft then and another four to five of editing and rewriting.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
I’m extremely structured—often times too much. When I’m working on the first draft, I write first thing in the morning and have a word quota for the week of ten to twelve thousand words. This works better for me than a daily quota. That way if life gets in the way or I’m just not feeling it, I don’t feel too pressured to force it and can focus on some other aspect.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
The most challenging part was weaving the five stories of the main characters together into a cohesive narrative. I had a good vision of who each of them were and how they came together, but what happened after that and how to bring all the stories to a satisfying conclusion was not easy.
What do you love most about being an author?
I absolutely love people and telling stories. To be able to create something from nothing with a message and for people to find value in it is the greatest high in the world.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I went with a small independent press. My publisher, Rare Bird Books, has a publicity division, Rare Bird Lit. They did the promotion and publicity for my first book Outside In. Throughout that process, I developed a relationship with the owner, Tyson Cornell. As I was contacting agents and other publishers and staying in contact with Tyson, it became clear they were the right publisher for The Investment Club. They specialize in literary fiction and publish books for the same reasons writers write them: to create art and share a message.
Where can we find you on the web?
My website is: www.ByCooper.com. It has links to all my social media: Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ByCooper/), Twiter (https://twitter.com/ByCoop), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dougiecoop/), Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7049197.Doug_Cooper), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/bycoop/), and Snapchat (https://www.snapchat.com/add/bycooper)