RED HEADED BOOK LOVER

L. Andrew Cooper, Author Spotlight

Crazy Time: A Bizarre Battle with Darkness and the Divine is a literary horror novel, a dark, surreal, contemporary supernatural fantasy that offers scares and suspense but seeks to terrify more on the level of concept, filling your head with thoughts and images that don’t fit right and perhaps shouldn’t even be.

Bright, independent Lily Henshaw rides home with her friends Kris, Eric, and Mia after an evening of celebration and ends up in a nightmare. Two men in a pickup truck stalk them on the road. The truck sideswipes them, and they pull over—where the two men subdue them with a gun and a tire iron. One of the men announces that it’s “crazy time,” and a game of violence and murder begins. Lily barely escapes with her life.

Months later, she is still traumatized, and her religious coworker Vince’s attempt to comfort her with claims that everything happens for a reason only leads to a panic attack. Her boss and the owner of the printing company where they work, Burt—who has always had feelings for her but has never acted on them—offers more solace, but he also shows her posters ordered by MFS, a corporation with offices at the nearby 1500 Spring Street skyscraper, posters that feature disturbing, apocalyptic Biblical images coupled with bizarre motivational taglines. Lily is agnostic, Burt is an atheist, and they’re both amused… and a little creeped out. The small levity Lily finds vanishes when her family calls to tell her that her brother David has killed himself, apparently part of a “cluster suicide” phenomenon that she and David had heard about on the news at a recent family gathering.

While she mourns, Lily can’t get the apocalyptic posters out of her head. Soon she gets a new, much larger dose of religious creepiness when a swarm of locusts invades her apartment. Unsure about whether the affliction is real, she calls Burt for help and waits for him outside. During the wait, a man attacks her. She is on the ground bleeding when Burt and other witnesses arrive. The other witnesses, seeing Burt, a black man, and Lily, an injured white woman, assume Burt is to blame and have him arrested. Lily testifies to Burt’s innocence, but he nevertheless spends a night in jail, where a cellmate kills himself, part of another suicide cluster. Meanwhile, Lily has a vision of Kris, Eric, and Mia sounding less like themselves than like Biblical prophets, warning her about opposing God. The experience sparks an idea: Lily begins to believe that she might be cursed, and in high Biblical fashion, the curse is affecting people around her, too, especially Burt.

Lily adopts “curse logic” and looks for answers. Burt, though skeptical, joins her. They visit an “extreme” psychic. Lily has an interview with a Satanist. While searching for answers, tragedies and traumas keep piling up: Lily’s family suffers more losses, Lily and Burt witness a murder in Lily’s bedroom as well as a suicide on the street, and Lily experiences further financial catastrophe. Lily concludes that her curse is reminiscent of the Book of Job. God, if He exists, is out to get her, and unlike the pious Job, she decides that she’s out to get God, too.

Her Satanist advisor points her toward a freelancer in the world of dark deeds, Tobias Centurion, who performs a ritual that points to answers at 1500 Spring Street. Armed with nothing but portents and vague advice, Lily and Burt approach the skyscraper intending to face off with God’s corporate cronies and possibly God Himself.

Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author L. Andrew Cooper whose book Crazy Time thrilled me from beginning to end. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and L. Andrew Cooper will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful L. Andrew Cooper!

Andrew Cooper specializes in the provocative, scary, and strange. His latest novel, Crazy Time, combines literary horror and dark fantasy in a contemporary quest to undo what may be a divine curse. Other published works include novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines; short story collections Leaping at Thorns and Peritoneum; poetry collection The Great Sonnet Plot of Anton Tick; non-fiction Gothic Realities and Dario Argento; co-edited fiction anthologies Imagination Reimagined and Reel Dark; and the co-edited textbook Monsters. He has also written more than 30 award-winning screenplays. After studying literature and film at Harvard and Princeton, he used his Ph.D. to teach about favorite topics from coast to coast in the United States. He now focuses solely on writing and lives in North Hollywood, California. Find him at www.landrewcooper.com.

Now, how wonderful does L. Andrew Cooper sound?! L. Andrew Cooper is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy L. Andrew Cooper’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!

Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me! I guess the most important thing to know about me is that, through all the shifting ambitions of childhood and youth, I’ve always wanted to write. In the third grade, my teacher would give the class diverse writing prompts, and I’d find ways to twist them into the latest installment of the “Detective Cooper” series, which some of my classmates looked forward to reading, which thrilled me to no end. I included a short story—about a woman having a mental breakdown in her office—with my college application, which might have helped me make the leap from a disadvantaged state-run high school in the American Southeast to the privilege of Harvard. I wrote my first novel at 18 (unpublished, thank goodness), then majored in English Literature. I went on to Princeton to keep studying English, wrote a second novel at 22 (also unpublished, also a good thing), and wrote my third novel, my first trek into horror, at 25 (unpublished, but maybe someday… it’s really, really disturbing). My next novel, written shortly thereafter, also horror, became the second I published, Descending Lines. I was still a graduate student. The villain is a graduate student. Coincidence? I won’t continue to connect the dots on my résumé, but as I’ve moved around the United States—Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, California (where I now live with my husband and cat)—I’ve continued to add my own books to my shelves, published and unpublished. I don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t have at least one project simmering in my brain.

Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write it?

Crazy Time is my eleventh published book and—even though it’s quite strange—by far my most personal. I drafted it as I was struggling to recover from one of the worst ordeals of my life, a series of events, one bad thing after another, that made me think—what if someone went through a REALLY horrific series of events, traumas so severe that the person became convinced that supernatural forces, possibly even God and Satan, were conspiring against her? This “what if” gave me a premise I thought people could relate to—most people have at least entertained the idea that the universe might have turned against them—as well as my heroine, Lily Henshaw, who not only entertains the idea but decides to fight back, consulting a psychic, a Satanist, a preacher, and other otherworldly experts until she and her love interest Burt journey to a skyscraper that seems to be the center of reality-challenging activities. Even though she might not be entirely sane, Lily faces adversity that would destroy most people, and she finds reserves of strength I can only wish I had. Her quest to find her way out of darkness was also my own, or at least a fantasy version of my own. I’m not saying she triumphs. You’ve got to read the book to find out about that. But as Lily first fought her own battles, she and Crazy Time helped me to be a better-adjusted person.

What would your advice be for aspiring writers?

Write, write, and keep writing. Study writing. Read. Get to know diverse writing styles. Try out different words, styles, and tricks you see in your reading. Finding your own voice takes time. The strongest voices make language work for them with facility, and achieving that kind of power takes practice. Don’t expect perfection from your first story or novel (or ever, really). Allow yourself to fail, or at least to have room for improvement, because you can always grow and evolve (which should help keep your stories fresh). Be aware that the vast majority of writers aren’t big-five-publisher, mainstream-bestseller types. If you’re passionate about writing, and you find a voice, you’ll find a niche for your work—and people who will be glad to read it.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book? 

Reading turns words on a page into voices in your head, and focused reading combined with well-crafted words prompts the mind to conjure images—sights, sounds, smells, etc.—to go along with the voices. I love movies, video games, and other art forms, but books (I’m thinking of creative writing, but other forms of writing work, too) seem to me to remain closest to thought. Mimicking and stimulating thought are what books do best, so I believe that’s a book’s most important mission: making you think. Books too formulaic or poorly written to feed my brain’s hunger for ideas aren’t really worth my time. Not every book needs to inspire deep thoughts… I like to kick back and relax, too… but if I don’t get a little mind chow from a book, I find there are better ways to chill.

What is your writing process like?

I rarely start a novel or screenplay without outlining it from beginning to end first, but my process isn’t a tidy as, “Step One, Outline; Step Two, Draft; Step Three, Edit;” and so on. I feel like I need an outline because I depend on a sense of where I’m going in order to lay the groundwork not just for plot and character arcs but for patterns of theme, imagery, and language. You don’t need to read Crazy Time very carefully to see that it’s intricately planned. That said, I’d find my outlines stifling if I couldn’t change them as my stories grow. A new concept, such as a new image I want to keep playing with or even a new character who’s going to have an important role, might occur to me while I’m writing, so I’ll go back to the outline and weave it into the plan. Also, I don’t save editing until after a complete draft. I go backward while I go forward, tinkering with existing text while I’m producing the new. I of course do full-text edits once a complete manuscript exists, but by then I’ve already gone through most of the material multiple times. When I think the manuscript is shiny enough, I share it with friend-readers, and if I’m lucky I then find some more objective readers to give me feedback. Then, more editing, and then, either I shelve it for a while (Crazy Time waited years), or I seek out ways to share it with the world.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

The answer to this question depends on the type of book. I’ve published two non-fiction/academic books. The first, Gothic Realities, is based on the dissertation I wrote for my Ph.D., so it took years of research, and the second, about titular horror movie maestro Dario Argento, wasn’t as research intensive but also brewed for a couple of years. My fiction is contemporary and tends to revolve around the types of people and places I know, so it doesn’t usually require a lot of research up front. For Crazy Time, I wanted Lily’s perspective to be colored by PTSD (a diagnosis she and I share), so I read about it to make sure I would have more than a casual knowledge of the disorder. I’m also not a Biblical scholar or a religious person, so when I realized how central the Book of Job would be to my story, I not only studied it, I read up on some major interpretations. More important, however, was keeping a copy handy while writing. Thanks to the internet, I am constantly researching while writing, verifying big concepts as well as small details. For example, I recall writing a scene in which a female character was going running, and something was going to happen to her shoulder while she was out, and I realized I didn’t know enough about sports bras to be sure about whether a strap would be on her shoulder. I therefore went shopping online for sports bras. I found the info I needed. I also started receiving lots of emails advertising sports bras.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?

I try to write something every weekday, at least a thousand words, hopefully more. If I really lack the inspiration to contribute to my main creative project of the moment, I might channel the time and energy into a blog post or some marketing materials. I do my best to take my own advice and write, write, write, as otherwise my facility with language could ebb. As Lily learns in Crazy Time, crazy flows forward. I apply myself to flowing forward, no matter how crazy the writing gets.

Do you read much, and, if so, who are your favorite authors?

I don’t read like I used to, but when I was a grad student I had the luxury (and eyestrain) of treating reading like a full-time job. Having studied the history of the novel with a specialization in three centuries of Gothic and horror, I find choosing favorites to be difficult. Outside the Gothic/horror zone, Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner are lasting heroes (cf my comments on the relationship between writing and thought). And who wouldn’t love Dickens, who perhaps perfected the art of storytelling in prose? Inside the Gothic/horror zone, I have many loves, from Ann Radcliffe in the eighteenth century to Stephen King and Jack Ketchum in more recent decades. I’ve blogged about the specific influences of Henry James’s Turn of the Screw and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” on Crazy Time. If you’re curious, have a look at my website!

Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?  

Hard to say. Crazy Time is my first venture into self-publishing; if it works out well, I will likely continue to self-publish. I’m working on a new novel now that I’m calling Crazy Time’s close cousin. It’s not horror, not nearly as dark, but it may be even more surreal as it plays even more wildly with notions of “reality.” The writing is slow-going, so I don’t know when I’ll finish. In any case, I actually have two other novel manuscripts that I completed after Crazy Time. They’re also not horror, though they do draw on the otherworldly and the surreal. The first, North Star Lake, is about three people mysteriously drawn across the United States to California, where they start a restaurant together and acquire bathrobes that seem to grant life-changing powers. The second, Living Rooms, is about a man who moves into a house that is—not exactly haunted—but alive, and living there complicates his relationships. Part of the book is told from the house’s point of view. While I expect these books to feed thinking, I also want them to be a lot of fun. Therefore, if all goes well, one or both should be coming your way soon!

Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with L. Andrew Cooper! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.

Goodbye for now book lovers,

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