Hi guys! Today I have Aussie superstar author Rebecca James hopping by for her very first interview celebrating the release of Cooper Bartholomew is Dead! Before we get to the interview, however, here’s a little about the book:
Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James
Published: October 1st 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Format: ARC, 336 pages
Goodreads • Booktopia • Bookworld
Reading Challenges: Australian Authors – Female
Cooper Bartholomew's body is found at the foot of a cliff.
That's the official finding, that's what everyone believes. Cooper's girlfriend, Libby, has her doubts. They'd been happy, in love. Why would he take his own life?
As Libby searches for answers, and probes more deeply into what really happened the day Cooper died, she and her friends unravel a web of deception and betrayal. Are those friends – and enemies – what they seem? Who is hiding a dangerous secret? And will the truth set them all free?
Hi Rebecca, welcome to Speculating on SpecFic 🙂
1. Could you tell us about the first time this a kernel of this story or its characters came to you?
I first started thinking about and writing this story in 2009. The original idea seemed quite simple. I wanted to write a story about a popular and genuinely very nice boy dying. I wanted to look at the ripple effects it would have on everyone who loved him.
2. How did the story grow from there?
Well, I had to invent characters and create conflict and I had to come up with some kind of mystery surrounding Cooper’s death and once I started the story took on a life of it’s own — as they tend to do. Interestingly, the original draft actually had a ghost and a fifth narrator (Sebastian’s mum). These elements were cut quite early on. It was too messy, too complicated. The story has changed and evolved enormously since I first thought of it. I hope and think it’s become better and better with each draft.
3. All the characters in Cooper Bartholomew is Dead are incredibly vivid and awesome! How did you go about crafting the characters in this book?
Thank you! I’m very glad you think so.
Creating believable three-dimensional characters is really important to me. I also find it extremely good fun. The original concept – Cooper’s death – seemed relatively simple at first, but once I started writing and introduced the voices of Claire, Sebastian and Libby they became far more than just ‘people who loved Cooper’ they became complete characters, with their own strengths and weaknesses, their own hopes and ambitions. And, of course, their own inner and outer conflicts. I had loads of fun writing Libby and Cooper and developing their romance but I had even more fun writing about Sebastian and Claire. Sebastian and Claire are both so troubled and self-involved, and they can both be so manipulative and extreme. I love writing mischievous characters, people who screw up and cause problems. I love thinking about why so many of us do behave badly, or treat people unfairly, or invite drama into our lives. I enjoy delving into the psychology of it all.
And as I developed these characters it became important to me that each of then had a voice and could tell their own version of the story. One story can be so different depending on individual perspectives. We are all the centre, (the main protagonist!), of our own lives and we tend to imagine that other people have things easier. We think other people are luckier, more confident, less confused by life. We imagine that we are the only one who can really suffer. Having the four perspectives allowed me to highlight this very natural and human way of seeing the world and to look at the story and at each character from various different angles.
4. Do you dreamcast your characters? If yes, will you share your picks with us?
I don’t usually dreamcast but for the purpose of this blog I went looking on the internet and found some pictures that I thought looked similar to the characters as I imagined them. But that’s the thing, they were only ‘similar’ and in the end every picture felt like a compromise. I couldn’t find a close enough match. And then it occurred to me that if they didn’t match the images in my head they would be highly unlikely to match the images in anyone else’s. So I decided not to share what I found because the last thing I’d want to do is mess with anyone’s perfect imagination!
5. Are you working on any writing projects right now?
Yes. I’m working on my fourth book right now. I can’t say much about it because I’m still puzzling it out, but I can say I’ve given it a tentative title (The Darkest Hour) which will probably change. I can also tell you that it starts with the discovery of a dead baby in a posh girl’s boarding school.
Rapid Fire Round:
1. Nutella or Vegemite? Vegemite.
2. What are you currently reading? Wuthering Heights.
3. What is the most unique or unusual thing on your desk right now? Right now? My violin bow is on my desk for some reason. I don’t even know how it got here. I’m going to have to put it away before it gets damaged! (Before you start imagining that I have any violin playing skills I must confess that I’ve only been playing for about 3 months so I am not good at all. But I enjoy it. And I intend to get good. It might just take a few years. 🙂 )