A retired registered nurse, Elaine has been a magazine freelance writer for many years, and is a regular contributor to a blog on the Midwest called The Barn Door (www.thebarndoor.net) She is also the author of her debut novel called The Road to Deer Run and is currently writing the sequel.
Elaine Cooper can be reached on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000997223171
or visit her website at: www.DeerRunBooks.com
Why did you become a writer?
I became a writer because I had a passion to put my thoughts into words. I used writing to express the things that were difficult to say out loud. I remember creating a poem when I was 13 in memory of my cat who had died. Somehow sorting through those feelings in a readable form helped me understand and deal with the pain and loss that I felt.
But I also wrote as a child for fun. Creating a script for my favorite TV show, writing a fictitious tale of my lost hamster in the attic—all these scenarios begged at my heart to be imagined and then come alive in words. I was blessed to have a father who encouraged my creative efforts.
What was the inspiration for your latest piece of fiction?
My latest work of fiction is The Road to Deer Run and the idea was also birthed as a child, but grew and developed into a novel when I reached adulthood. It was at a family gathering when one of my cousins broke the news to me that one of my ancestors had been a British soldier during the American Revolution. I am certain he was smirking at me, since his branch of the family did not lead back to this Redcoat! I was a little embarrassed—but quickly grew sympathetic to my long ago grandparent when I studied the painful facts of the war he had endured. Although this was the inspiration for my novel, it is not meant to be biographical. “All the names have been changed…”
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
There is no one more inspiring than a real person! That said, my characters are usually a compilation of people that I have known through the years, as well as partly from my imagination. I always try to make them multidimensional—no one is all good or all bad and even the villains have a background story. And I always try to include some sort of redemption for most of my characters. I try to instill hope—even when they appear to be hopeless.
What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
I think the most interesting research can be location visits. When my husband and I toured Western Massachusetts (the locale for The Road to Deer Run), it was thrilling to walk the woods, smell the earth, touch the rock that marked where my ancestor’s cabin had been built. I will never forget the way I felt transported back into history. It was very moving.
Where do you go to do your research?
Besides going on location, I love to seek out books that are no longer in print about the 18th century. The closer they were written to the era, the more accurate they can be. I found one book in the library that I loved so much, they eventually said I could no longer renew it! I guess they needed to free it for other readers! I went to Amazon’s used books and found an old copy of this favorite volume and it now sits on my own shelf.
I also visited Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and found lots of inspiration in the apothecary shop there. As a nurse, I was very interested in studying some of the colonial medicines and I included many in my novel. It was pretty interesting to pick up a piece of “Peruvian Bark” (used for malaria) and find that it was, literally, a chunk of bark that they would soak in wine or vinegar to be given to a patient for a fever.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
My current novel (nearly finished) is the sequel to The Road to Deer Run. It takes place a few years after the Revolutionary War has ended. Most of the characters in the first book return in this story but some of the secondary characters are now featured prominently. And although the war is over and the physical scars have healed, the returning veterans are still dealing with their emotional wounds from war. And of course, there is plenty of romance as well!
What is your favorite work of literary fiction and why?
I would have a difficult time choosing just one favorite piece of literature. I suppose that “Jane Eyre” is probably one of my most beloved stories from childhood. Charlotte Bronte’s tale of a lonely Jane must have somehow struck a cord with me. To this day, the idea of reading on a window seat is so romantic and comforting.
Who is your favorite contemporary author? Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?
My favorite author of contemporary fiction would have to be Karen Kingsbury. She has a gift for weaving realistic human behaviors into tales of triumph over sin and despair. Well crafted books to nourish the spirit!
I am currently reading “The Gold Standard” by Lisa Lickel. It is a Christian contemporary mystery/romance and I am LOVING it! I have a stack of Christian historical fiction waiting to be read—but I try not to read the same genre when I am in the middle of writing one! Can’t wait to dive into them! I’d better get writing…
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
My current writing schedule is much less stressful since I retired from full time nursing. I was exhausted writing my first novel. And as soon as it was complete, my triplet grandbabies were born and I spent three of their first six months of life helping out in another state. Along with doing book promotions and changing multiple diapers, I was physically spent. I am so grateful to be able to return to magazine freelance writing, guest-blogging, and working on my latest novel. And the triplets are healthy and happy babies! Thank you, Lord! So, I usually write something—a chapter, a blog—almost every day.
Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
My only idiosyncrasy in writing is that I need caffeine, and lots of it! If tea is not working, I break out my husband’s French press coffee. Then I can do some serious writing!
Elaine, thank you so much for stopping by today. I enjoyed the visit chatting with you!