Friday, April 4, 2014

Feature: Doug Cooper, author of Crystal Deception


Title: Crystal Deception

Publication Date: September 15, 2013

Genre: Futuristic Thriller/Sci-Fi



Criss lives in a special kind of prison. He can see and hear everything around the world. Yet a restrictor mesh restrains his reach and keeps him cooperative. His creator, Dr. Jessica Tallette, believes his special abilities offer great promise for humanity. But she fears the consequences of freeing him, because Criss, a sentient artificial intelligence with the intellect of a thousand humans, is too powerful to control.

Guided by her scientific training, Tallette works cautiously with Criss. That is, until the Kardish, an otherwise peaceful race of alien traders, announce they want him for themselves. With technologies superior to Earth’s, the Kardish express their desires with ominous undertones.

The Union of Nations is funding Tallete’s artificial intelligence research and she turns to them for help. Sid, a special agent charged with leading the response, decides Earth’s greatest weapon is the very AI the aliens intend to possess. But what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? And what is humanity’s role if an interstellar battle among titans starts to rage?


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What inspired you to write this book?


I was feeling restless and began looking for a new creative outlet in my life. I started several different projects all at once, and over a period of time, I found I’d dropped all of them in favor of creative writing. I’ve been at it for a year and a half, and I love it.  


How did you choose your title?


I wrote “Crystal Deception” on a title page as the first words of my book. It came from the impulse of the moment. At the time, I had an idea of what I wanted a crystal to be—an artificial intelligence—but I had no idea what the deception was. Whatever it turned out to be, I knew I wanted readers to think they saw it coming a few times in the course of the story. A number of reviewers have written that the discovery of the deception is a page-turner.


Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.


I worked with a talented cover designer named damonza.  I tried not to be too prescriptive. I suggested the idea of a man and a women running. They might be wearing military themed clothes, and perhaps be backlit to create a silhouette effect. He showed me the cover and I loved it. It has a retro appeal that reminds me of science fiction covers from years ago.


Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?


I self-published Crystal Deception for a number of reasons: I was anxious to get the book out to an audience, I wanted to maintain long-term control over of the work, and I was excited by the entrepreneurial challenge.  Self-publishing has all aspects of the small business enterprise, from product creation, branding, and marketing, to finance, project management, and intellectual property concerns. It’s been fun to visit all of these bits as I work to gain momentum in my writing career.


What do you consider the most important part of a good story?


When I read a book, I must care about the characters. I’m not saying they must be likeable, but if I don’t care what happens to them, I won’t keep reading. And this leads to plot. I like to be scooped up and carried along on a ride of excitement, adventure, intrigue, or humor, and preferably, a combination of these. And the best way to get me involved is with a hook. From the very first words, I want to be invested in the story.  So characters, plot, and hook are the essential elements of a good story. 


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


I’m definitely a pantser.  My process for developing a story line is much like building a jigsaw puzzle. When I finish a chapter, I don’t allow myself to change it. The challenge I enjoy is brainstorming how to be at a particular point, with characters deployed here and there, all with histories and in certain situations, and now I must move forward in a plausible and entertaining fashion. Many times I’ve thought I’d written myself into a corner. I’ll think about it in the back of my mind through the rest of the day, and after a night’s sleep, I’ve always been lucky enough to have thought up a solution that’s consistent and plausible with the storyline.


What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?


I thought it would be easier to write creative fiction compared to my previous efforts writing technical research papers and grant applications, but I was wrong. In the technical arena, I must be painstakingly precise, I am constrained by specific jargon, I must place my work in the context of those who have preceded me, and then I must build excitement about my contribution.  With creative writing, I must make sure the story starts with a hook, the plot unfolds without holes, the dialog sounds authentic, the story is told in an enjoyable and compelling fashion, the pacing is correct, the ending is satisfying, and more. It turns out that both styles are equally challenging activities.


Who is your favorite author?


I love a great range of authors, from Carl Hiaasen, Lee Child, and John Sanford, to Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?


Actually, writing is the thing I like to do when I’m not working.  I’m professor and department head of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut.  I’m also founder and on the board of directors of Control Station, Inc., a high-tech startup company. These two pursuits, when combined with my writing, make for a very full work week. I like to walk a loop through the streets in my neighborhood during the week. On the weekend, I enjoy the day with a hike, kayaking, or some other active recreation.


What's your next project?


I’m working on Crystal Conquest, the second book in the Crystal series. I’m well past the half-way point and am targeting a release date of November of 2014.




Author Bio

As a young child, Doug stood on a Florida beach and watched an Apollo spacecraft climb the sky on its mission to the moon. He thrilled at the sight of the pillar of flames pushing the rocket upward. And then the thunderous roar washed over him, and shook his body and soul.

Since then, he has explored life as an educator and entrepreneur. He enjoys telling inventive tales, mentoring driven individuals, and everything sci-tech.

In his new book, Crystal Deception, Doug swirls his creative imagination with his life experiences to craft a science fiction action-adventure story with engaging characters and a plot line with surprises.

He lives in Connecticut with his wonderful wife and with pictures of his son, who is off somewhere in the world creating adventures of his own...


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