Intimate Conversation with William Fredrick Cooper
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) is scheduled for publication 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!!
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