William Fredrick Cooper Uplifts The African-American Community With His Novels
William Fredrick Cooper is the author of the critically-acclaimed SIX DAYS IN JANUARY, the Essence/Black Expressions Bestselling novel THERE'S ALWAYS A REASON and the author of ONE SEASON IN PINSTRIPES, a sports memoir chronicling the 2009 championship season of the New York Yankees. A dynamic speaker known for giving enlightening radio interviews, he has edited several award-winning novels and contributed to New York Times bestselling anthologies and national periodicals such as Ebony Magazine.
His fourth book, UNBREAKABLE (A LOVE BALLAD) was released on March 18, 2014. (All books were published through Strebor Books/Simon and Schuster). A Brooklyn native and the proud father of Maranda Nicole Cooper, stop by Cooper's Facebook page www.facebook.com/wfcooper, listen to some great music and say hello.
BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel?
Ella, I traveled the road of self-publishing. Back in 2000, when I received my 72nd and last rejection letter, one that actually said my writing was “too emotional for a black man,” (sigh) I decided to do this on my own. So I went to First Books Library (Currently known as Author House), a print-on-demand company.
In 2001, I was speaking at the University of Maryland at College Park about the struggles of my literary journey and little did I know God had put someone in that audience that was listening to my every word. After the conference the woman and I put books up for a vendor. She me told her vision then asked me to tag along. At first I rejected her, but she never forgot about me, even as she grew in stature. Through her, I received my first computer (when I wrote the lead story in the book Sistergirls.com), and the rest is history. I owe her a bit, and love her in my own special way. Thanks, Zane.
BPM: What is your definition of success? Does money play a part in how you gauge success?
My definitions of success are broad and none of them have anything to do with money. That we are contributing pebbles in the vast ocean of African-American Literary History makes us successful. That a person can maximize their potential in any area of light at a high level defines success.
BPM: What books or authors made a difference in your life?
So many books have inspired me. Terry McMillan and “Waiting to Exhale” was one, because it started the current literary phenomenon. The literary works of David Halberstam (Summer of ’49, October of 1964, The Best and the Brightest) have influenced my flow, as I love his intellectual rhythm with words.
The romance writers (Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, Brenda Jackson, Cheryl Faye) taught me narrative imagery, James Baldwin’s diversity, Timmothy McCann’s books passion, Eric Jerome Dickey’s usage of commas in paragraphs, Cornel West, Earl Graves and others for social content, and of course, The BIBLE, for faith.
BPM: How many books have you written? How has your writing style evolved over the years? What stimulated your growth the most?
Ella, I am blessed to have done four books. Three of them novels, and a fourth was a sports book. God has really blessed me with a versatile pen: In my early days, I wrote novels and steamy erotic short stories, but I would always challenge myself in writing short op-ed pieces on diverse issues. That would eventually pay off when I wrote my sports memoir ONE SEASON IN PINSTRIPES.
Good writers stimulate me. People like Robert Fleming (Cole Riley) influenced me so much as a writer, because they can do anything with a pen. Intellectually stimulating and articulately-driven, I admire his range. I think he’s one of the most underappreciated writers of our generation. GIVE HIM HIS DUE!!!
BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, STUDY YOUR CRAFT! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STUDY THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THIS. A LOT OF GREED!! TOO MUCH GREED!!
BPM: Introduce us to your latest book. What genre is the book? On Kindle or Nook?
My fourth book is entitled UNBREAKABLE (A LOVE BALLAD). The novel is classified as fiction, but I think it’s so much more.
BPM: What compelled or inspired you to write this book? Why now? Ever experience writers block?
Can I be completely honest? I wrote UNBREAKABLE (A LOVE BALLAD) with a sense of urgency. Sometimes, that mental clock in your brain tells you that you’re running out of time to maximize certain gifts in order to fulfill God’s promise on the life He wants you to have. I felt like the wheels of artistic progression were spinning in place, and something in my spirit told me that this may be my last opportunity at forward progress.
Additionally speaking, I wanted to write another William McCall story (SIX DAYS IN JANUARY, THERE’S ALWAYS A REASON ) with the hopes that he might find the one thing he has coveted: LOVE.
BPM: Are any scenes from the book borrowed from your world or your experiences?
Ella, I wrote UNBREAKABLE (A LOVE BALLAD) as if I were composing a musical score or recording an album. Like an artist given complete creative and production control, my imprints are EVERYWHERE. For starters, the love story pays tribute to the legacy of Michael Jackson, the creative engine of my dreams. And there are transparent statements about my life through original lyrics of Jackson songs. Lastly, there are inspirational pieces with words that I hope might help us all with Love.
BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message enclosed?
UNBREAKABLE (A LOVE BALLAD) has an appeal that might reach both a fiction and romance reader, and strong socially informative messages of that might cause a debate or two amongst intellects. Trumping all that is the book’s primary initiative: LOVE, It can be intense and enduring, but at day’s end it’s just that… LOVE. God’s most precious gift dwells within us all, if we look close enough. And contrary to popular belief, it conquers all.
BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book?
I’m praying that it gives readers hope to trust LOVE with their hearts after reading this. If not, then I better give up writing and follow another vision, because that means I didn’t deliver the message God gave me effectively.
BPM: How do you avoid the temptation of interjecting your own value system in your writing?
I’m gonna challenge that question. While we don’t want to sound preachy, I think all writers sprinkle nuggets of their belief systems into their stories. Christian Fiction writers believe in God, or they wouldn’t write in that genre. (PICTURE IT: A beautiful book of faith written by a salty- mouthed person who’s openly admits that he enjoys sex shops and pornography.- That like a person with no eyebrows looking amazed – LOL!!!)
As far as other areas of the craft, you have to be careful not to force opinions. If done properly, a well-developed character can’t help but speak not only their value system, but a small portion of the writers as well through a careful gamut of emotions. Unless of course, you’re writing from a character that’s not your gender.
BPM: Share with us a quote brief excerpt from one of the most powerful chapters.
You really want me to? I mean… are you sure? Well…um, okay… (The author says warily.)
“Darling, don’t we have a black man in the White House?”
Carl answered, “One they attempted to humiliate by offering millions of dollars for his birth certificate and college records? One they have called ‘indecisive’ because of the scenario in Syria? And don’t get me started on the economy. America’s been borrowing millions-a-day for years from other countries, and now that they’re having trouble paying it back, it’s his fault? What a bunch of crap. ”
“You forgot about the Republicans and their fight against the Affordable Care Act. For crying out loud, they shut down government operations for sixteen days.” Keisha added. “Do you see the lengths ignorant people will go to prove a point? It’s like the GOP wanted to see America fail, so they can say ‘We handed The Magic Negro a mess and he made it worse.’ Sometimes I wonder if he was merely a figurehead put in place to keep us in the dark, a neat little trick by Charlie.”
“I’ve wondered that too, Keisha, especially with the way he’s being treated. In so many ways it parallels what Jackie Robinson endured. He absorbed so much hatred being “The First” that he died only sixteen years after his playing days. The abuse took years from his life. Then I look at Barack and worry. I mean, have they blatantly disrespected any other President like this? It’s ‘keep him in his place’ bull**** of the worst kind, and it doesn’t matter that he came from the womb of a white woman.” ###
BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
There are so many messages I’m trying to deliver in UNBREAKABLE, but if I had to pick one, it’s the obvious. LOVE still exists because it’s in us, and we shouldn’t forget this. I just hope people appreciate the story.
BPM: How much does “word of mouth” has play into the success of your book? What grassroots strategies have you used to spread the word about your book?
“Word of Mouth” is critical with my books, because I’m not a writer that comes out with a book a year. (It takes me a good 12-16 months to write one.). So far, the hype was been tremendous. Makes me a little nervous.
To promote UNBREAKABLE, I’ve been posting excerpts of the story online, as well as playing a great deal of Michael Jackson on my Facebook page and distributing flyers at major events and functions. As we get closer to the release date, I’ll intensify the buzz by utilizing a marketing team.
BPM: Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... ”
My writing offers an honest, heartfelt attempt to reach greatness with a pen. I owe that to all that came before me, and those who will throw it down on those pages long after I’m gone. Only God knows the final word on my humble contribution, but its sure fun trying to carve a great one out.
BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. How may our readers follow you online?
I’ve begun outlining my next book. That one will probably be ready by March of 2016. And I’m getting ready to tour UNBREAKABLE throughout the country.
My new website should be up and running by April, but readers can reach me always on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wfcooper. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t go there as much as I should. I can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
BPM: Thank you for sharing a little bit about yourself, your journey and your book with our readers!
God Bless You, Ella.
Unbreakable: A Novel
by William Fredrick Cooper
All other books can be purchased on Amazon.com