Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Post: Author Sally Cooper

How/why did you start to write? I wrote as a child and through my teens and had some success with poetry in student contests and fall fairs. It started from a love of words then became about self expression and eventually about telling a story.

How did you become an author? With a group of writers I met in a creative writing course, I formed a critiquing group. As we gained confidence, some of us began submitting our work and reading at open mic nights. Within ten years, three of us had published our first novels.

What was your first published piece? A poem about unicorns that won a national contest.

How long ago? When I was sixteen.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How? I earned two degrees in English Literature. Devoting five years to reading and analyzing literature humbled me and fed me as well. Having come from a place where writing books was not a valued way to spend one’s time, I gained strength from being in a place where books held power. Reading widely and deeply has been essential to my growth as a writer. Certain books became touchstones and signposts.  University changed how I read and how I write.

What inspires you? Other artists (and I include writers) inspire me, especially those for whom making art (or writing) is a part of living. Activists inspire me, too, as do trees and my children.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique. This question is tricky. By success, do you mean sales? Recognition? Both are hard to gauge. Publishing articles is one way I’ve invited readers to engage with my work. In the wake of my second novel, Tell Everything, I wrote an article about women writers of “true crime fiction” that tapped into what was going on in my own book. I love when other authors write or speak about their research or the obsessions that led them into their novels.

Parting words: I’ve never felt as if there was a time when I became a writer, as if I crossed a line that meant “now I am this thing known as writer.”  I’ve always wanted be one, even during years that I wasn’t actively writing. That said, I struggled as a young person to call myself a writer. It seemed such an important, worthy moniker, one I’d have to prove myself with time and publication to earn. I used to post index cards that read “I am a writer” on my mirror so the name would stick. Though I get now how little that label matters, at the time, owning that self-definition felt huge. If I could tell my younger self anything (not that I’d have listened), I’d say, get out of your own way because it’s not about you. It’s about the work. 

Author website