Welcome to the one hundred and forty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers and more. Today’s is with horror writer Lo Cooper. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Lo: First let me introduce myself. My name is Lotalrio K. Cooper, you can call me Lo. Well I have my B.A in Applied Behaviour Analysis through Kaplan University. I will start my masters program for general psychology in September. I am martial artist discipline Kung-fu focus on Hung-gar.
How I became writer is an odd tale I started writing when I was in the second grade. For a class project the teacher let us write anything we desired, wrong thing to say to kid lol. I wrote a short story called Dead End Road, on the dead end road was junk dealer very old and too smart for his own good. However the story I wrote was odd and predictable the main character goes into the junkyard comes across a creature the old man kept in the junkyard. Unfortunately the story ended when the creature was killing the kid and the old man told him “I warned you”. Over the years I kept dream journals, wrote for fun my attention shifted towards art instead of writing. I got back into writing 12 years later.
Morgen: I’m a big fan (and writer) of odd fiction. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Lo: Genre I write is horror in my eyes but the twist is I am focused on the psychological aspect of horror, specifically how my supernatural characters react to new encounters of the strange malice kind. Another genre I am interested in other than horror is sci-fi because it gives me more freedom creative wise. However it will be done my way different from everyone else, my brand of sci-fi.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Lo: ‘City of Secrets’ is my first book. Unfortunately it’s not on book shelves but you can purchase it on any online book store just type in the title of my book or my full name. My reaction when I got the actual copy of my book was short-lived excitement. To be clear when I was half way done at the time I started work on the sequel. I opened the box smiled stared at it and put it on the shelf and said back to work. lol
Morgen: That’s a shame in a way but well done for being focused. Have you ever seen a member of the public (whom you don’t know!) reading your book… in any unusual locations?
Lo: No I have not, however a saw a friend of mine reading my book besides Christians getting people to go to church… now that’s odd and funny at the same time.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Lo: Xlibris press handles marketing but I have to pay for it therefore can’t afford their prices. However I am doing a lot of social networking myself in creating a buzz for ‘City of Secrets’ thanks to the helpful people on linkedin.com.
Morgen: LinkedIn’s brilliant, isn’t it.
Lo: Lessons learned from my experience of being self-published plus opportunities I discovered on my own. For my next book; a series of short stories and character prefaces to inform the reader on what the characters are doing before the sequel. I plan on getting involved with 10day book club let people worldwide, people read it and critique. Also it creates a fan base, let them crave more and release the book through Xlibris.
Morgen: Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Lo: I never participated in any competitions, I never put any stock in it.
Morgen: It sounds like you’re busy enough anyway. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Lo: No I prefer not to go under pseudonym. In my opinion going under a pseudonym can do more harm than good in the 21st century because we live in a time people want to know their favourite author. To clarify this route can be taken to someone as “this person wants to hide”, is this writer ashamed of his work etc. This can hurt an author’s sales or develop a hate fan base, clarification it’s a gamble I don’t recommend for authors to take, just stand behind your work.
Morgen: The writing is what’s important. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Lo: Now this is a good question. From my ongoing experience I don’t want an agent because I am doing what an agent does myself in regards of taking advantage of social media and befriending people who are writers, editors and people who are employed by self-publishing authors. This is my experience I don’t want people out there thinking “if Lo is doing this, I don’t need this agent at all”. If you have an opportunity to have an agent by all means take it and run with it. I disagree with the whole notion an agent is vital to an Authors success. What’s vital to an author success is his or her manuscript and the determination to succeed you don’t need an agent for that.
Morgen: I think they’re becoming less important as eBooks grow. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?
Lo: My book is available as an eBook; it was a free courtesy of Xlibris. I am not a fan of eBooks at all, but if people prefer an eBook by all means take get it then.
Morgen: What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Lo: I did not send anything to publishing house because ‘City of Secrets’ does not follow the mainstream on what’s on the shelves right now. When Xlibris press heard about ‘City of Secrets’, their feedback was satisfying enough.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Lo: I did not submit anything to publishing companies, now I can go in detail on why I knew they’ll reject it. One viable source told me she liked what I done with City of Secrets but my associate (will not say) warned me this is different, Lo you’ll have a difficult time trying to appeal to a publishing company. As for as rejection in general I have gotten plenty of that from individuals whom have read the summary. I just shrug my shoulders and say I didn’t write to please you, your just one single person out of billions, you’re insignificant.
Morgen: You certainly can’t please everyone (for instance, I’ve learned to be selective of what I show my mum – just the light stuff) and I think any genre (especially horror) has plenty of people liking it. 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Lo: What I am working at the moment is character prefaces. Jesse, Adalious are done, I am on the end preface with Ashley. After Ashley’s preface, the detectives preface and then short stories. The short stories have nothing to do with City of Secrets, just some short stories I finished and some I did not finish.
Morgen: Me too, I have a few projects like that. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Lo: I make it top thing to do, other than work out to write something a day. A habit I picked up from the book writing well. Writing to me is a science betwixt skill / craft, perception-wise the more you write and question your writing you get better.
Morgen: Absolutely, it’s all about practice.
Lo: The most I’ve ever written in one day: 2 chapters of a fight scene psychics, Jesse and Ashley fighting one of my creatures in City of Secrets. The difficult thing about it was writing the powers used, definition of them and fighting also dialogue. You can say I made it work, lol.
Morgen: 🙂 What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Lo: My definition of writers block I call them minor set-backs. Obviously I did something wrong, did not look it through to what da hell did I just do? Lol I suffer from writers block all the time, so does every writer with me. I am over critical betwixt wanting to put everything into my work. The best way to beat writers block is sit down with pen and notebook pad and do ‘q and a’ with myself. For example I write down every question I have about a particular scene, magic power or situation ECT. And answer them. When I run out of questions go back over it and piece together an out line on what to do next. The objective here is you don’t stop writing; I forced myself to be wise and ask questions about my work and then put it all together.
Morgen: What a great idea.
Lo: 2nd way to beat writers block I get out the house with my pen & notebook go to a bar and do questions and answers at a bar. Change of scenery and alcohol reduces my stress plus being around other people helps out too.
Morgen: And you get to people-watch. 🙂 A question some authors dread, where do you get your inspiration from?
Lo: What I draw inspiration from is Lovecraft, Poe, and Hemmingway. What gets me going are video games, heavy metal (Danzig) and death metal. Also I read a lot too.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Lo: I get an idea for a story first, plot it then run with it. It’s a scientific procedure I do but this is something I made up and I prefer to keep my recipe on lock down.
Morgen: You’ve mentioned a few characters, do you have a method for creating them, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Lo: Yes I do have method in creating my characters. My method in creating some of them is based off of people I met, combination of people I know also people in history. For example a character I am working on named Lorenzo Prescott I am basing his narcissi’s behaviour similar to Megatron generation 1 transformers. In clear terms how he developed his way of thinking and behaviour. When it comes to character names I just make them up or go to a name generator and pick what name fits the character or characters.
Morgen: There are some great name (and plot) generators on the internet. 🙂
Lo: The difficulty in making supernatural characters believable is quite the feat. I learned a lot in my psychology class about behaviour, complexity of it and how environment triggers behaviours. I made a character template in the template I include behaviour flaws / behaviour strengths. For example I do not mention the behaviour flaw instead I show the readers the negative behaviour or behaviours at hand. The more you make the character with behaviour flaws the more people can identify with the characters struggles. By all means I am making them believable in some cases they show aspects of themselves that people may not like at all, but hey that’s life.
Morgen: It is. They say write about what you know but it sounds like you have a fertile imagination. 🙂 Do you write any non-fiction? If so, how do you decide what to write about?
Lo: I would write step-by-step self-defence stuff because I use to teach Kung-fu.
Morgen: Oh wow, you should meet Stephen Brayton. 🙂 If you write poetry, do you write to form or free verse? What would you say is the difference between a piece of prose and a prose poem? Why do you think poetry is so popular and yet so poorly paid?
Lo: I like lyrical poetry myself, look at effect it had on the music industry. Especially rap music stanzas and subject matter was always upheld in the past. Now look at music now no order. I don’t really care for poetry, the reason why it’s underpaid there’s no demand for it, only a small audience this what makes the competition stiff.
Morgen: You’ve mentioned that you write short stories, apart from the word count, what do you see as the differences between them and novels and why do you think they’re so difficult to get published?
Lo: Honestly short stories and novel work are the same the only difference here the problems are solved quicker in short stories. For example in novel work, there’s dozens of problems and challenges that correlates to one another or not, therefore it takes the character or characters longer to accomplish a goal. From experience when I was a part of the Long Ridge writers group the reason why they’re so hard to get published is the rules, deadlines and word count. Specifically word count, the word count is unreasonable. In my opinion this is the problem with the industry whoever is making the word count probably is not a writer.
Morgen: Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Lo: My first readers when ‘City of Secrets’ started as a short story were friends of mine. When it turned into a novel a friend of mine read the whole thing and said he hates horror, but my work was easy to read, unique and gave him nightmares.
Morgen: Oh dear, but a “yay” too. 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Lo: I do revision first then edit then revise. My weakness is editing I miss a lot of stuff sometimes because I have read my work over and over again. A second pair of eyes is needed, I need an editor.
Morgen: Absolutely. They’re so vital. I read my big (117K) chick-lit novel four times and was still finding errors. How much research do you have to do for your writing? Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Lo: Sometimes I don’t have to do research but there are times when I have to do a lot of research. I narrow it down though, for example K.J lives by ninja code so I research it, understand the twist here, K.J embodies it as religion and belief for the sole purpose of bringing the character to life.
I have received positive feedback from people who read my book already. However I am stunned everyone loves the second character but the hate the third character Adalious. Often Adalious is referred to as a perfect villain.
Morgen: I think if people feel strongly about any of the characters an author writes then they must be doing something right. 🙂 What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Lo: My creative process is scientific in regards of making templates for writing such as scenes and scene blocks, internal and external what the character is feeling inside and how he or she displays outside. Also I do a dialogue page too dialogue is important to me it keeps me focused, and possibly the reader. After all of this I start writing the rough draft. To clarify here’s what I do:
1. Character template sheet
2. Scene and scene blocks (may vary)
4. Write rough draft
Morgen: Very meticulous. 🙂 Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Morgen: Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Lo: Well it’s a little of everything except going to my local coffee shop. 1. When I am writing a project for the first time I prefer silence. Sometimes I listen to music, buy specific music though such as Kevin Riepl’s ‘Gears of War ‘soundtrack or ‘Diablo 2’ soundtrack.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Lo: I prefer first person because the reader is in the action and the inside the characters head. I don’t like second person, my opinion on third I hate most of all. For example Golem on the Lord of the Rings listening to him talk made me want to kill him.
Morgen: Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Lo: I used a prologue before not an epilogue yet. Both Prologue and Epilogue are useful for writer and reader; a prologue lets you know what you’re about to read and leaves you wanting more. Epilogue is the end betwixt teaser of the end of one story that links to another story. As I said before useful, very useful.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Lo: Yes and no. A dream I had I wrote down, the dream was nightmare I died in a nasty car accident woke up and lo and behold Lucifer asked me to be his attorney to represent him to get him back into heaven. Long story short it was a hung jury, Lucifer could return to heaven hell would be no more. Lucifer did not want to go heaven I asked him why, he said I just wanted my father God to say he was wrong about me.
Morgen: Wow. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Lo: Favourite thing about writing for me is creating characters, story, challenges and problems the character or characters will face. My least favourite part is editing because after go through the revision stage at times my attention span wanes. Therefore editing becomes a burden to me sometimes.
Morgen: Which is where an editor earns his / her money. 🙂 If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Lo: My biggest surprise is that I completed a manuscript in a year’s time. ‘City of Secrets’ started as short story for my creative writing assignment. It kept growing I could not stop writing all of sudden I accomplished something that would take most people years to do.
Morgen: Some do, yes. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Lo: Be determined, focus and dedicated to your goal.
Morgen: I’d go with that. 🙂 You talked about reading earlier, what do you like to read?
Lo: I read a bunch of H.P Lovecraft, psychology books. Authors I recommend are Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and Hemmingway. Today’s author I read now is Kelley Armstrong, I learned a lot from her work.
Morgen: That’s why many authors suggest reading, it certainly inspires you. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Lo: When I am not writing I am outside training, working out or training with my swords. I party at strip clubs. If I am not there I am at happy hour at my drinking places; Road house every other week or at the Mad hatter when my good friend Beth’s working.
Morgen: You certainly lead a colourful life. 🙂 Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Lo: Book wise John Franklin ‘Writing for Story’ and joining writing groups in regards to take advantage of the internet. Also I recommend http://linkedin.com.
Morgen: So do I. 🙂 In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Lo: I live in the United States anywhere else will be a hindrance. In the land of the free you meet a diverse group of people its healthy for the psyche and good writing ideas. It’s best for my work to be appreciated in my country because we’re culturally diverse.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Lo: My book Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Cityofsecrets you can find me there. Also I am on linkedin.com also my book has a Twitter page. I am not a part of a forum yet, I find all these site very valuable, especially Linkedin.com
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Lo: http://www.facebook.com/Cityofsecrets and http://www.twitter.com/Cityofsecrets. Also I am on Amazon’s Author Central. I just started this page; sorry I have nothing to blog about yet.
Morgen: That’s OK, blogging’s hard work… which is why I’m helped by so many people like yourself. 🙂
Lo: City of Secrets Facebook page has three character synopsis and book summary. Both Facebook page and Twitter page you can contact me anytime you like if you have more questions. Just don’t forget to hit the ‘like’ button on the Facebook page and don’t be shy about introducing yourself on my Twitter page. People can purchase my book on any online book store specifically Amazon (cheapest) and Barnes and Noble. Furthermore people can go to goodreads.com and compare prices. Also they can get it through Xlibris Press.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Lo: First the future is an impossible thing to predict. Although writing is something I am passionate about and one day my work will be my high-paying career, each step I take towards my goal I’ll gain long strides out of no where I will accomplish this without knowing that I did. To clarify just keep doing what I am doing the future will unfold as I want it because I am the master of my own destiny.
Morgen: Is there a question you’d like to ask me? 🙂
Lo: How do you manage to handle so many interviews?
Morgen: The quick answer is good organisation (I’ve been a secretary since I left school) and not enough sleep. 🙂 Thank you Lo.
I then invited Lo to add an extract of his writing. He explained that this piece is when Jesse encounters a being of true malice:
Thunderous feet land on the hood of the car, from the weight of the assailant the roof sinks in. Another obscure noisy sound of eight enormous seven-inch claws shred and yanks the roof off the car. I produce my gun and shoot at the thing blindly. All of a sudden an unknown force I cannot see yanks the gun out of my hand. Second its clammy large hand barely fits around my throat and lifts me ten feet skyward.
Disoriented I cannot believe my eyes I am face-to-face with a creature my brain cannot comprehend what the f**k I see before me. My soul shakes, involuntary nerve overload makes my bones rattle. Upon its gargantuan C-shaped head dwell four sets of lifeless eyes. The monster’s grip around my throat assures me this brutal paranormal encounter is real! Its hideous maw lowers from its head, exposing razor-sharp grey teeth, and a thin layer of odd flesh which curls into a smile of macabre death. Its mouth of stench opens and four tongues dart out; two lick my face, the others taste the air. I kick and scratch its hand to break its grip.
Lotalrio K. Cooper prefers to be called Lo. Born 1976 in Athens, Ga, he still remains in the area. Mr. Cooper started writing in the second grade but stopped to pursue art. He later got back into writing in 2009. In 2010 he completed his first horror novel City of Secrets in year’s time. Mr. Cooper’s inspiration to write came when he read H.P Lovecraft’s Nameless City, Poe’s classic Tell Tale Heart and works of Hemmingway when he was in High school, obviously a unique teen with odd taste and he remains a unique person.
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