Twilight Times Feature
with D Jason Cooper
Interviewer: L. Quillen
1. Does your creativity express itself in ways other than writing?
Yes, but I think people would be surprised. The first expression is a new path of spirituality. It is not East, West, Northern or Australian. Though the original experience is given from on high, the working out of aspects of it does take individual effort. Itís one thing to write within a genre or a field and just try to find that little bit of difference to make publishers take note, itís another to write something truly new. Thereís no track record to point to.
My other creative expressions is professional wrestling. I know what youíre thinking, everybody reacts that way. But I love wrestling, and its story telling, and its ethos. I think people really need to think about the stories wrestling tells. Once these were about good and bad, honesty versus cheating, and whether we stick to the rules even if someone else is cheating and winning because of it. Now the stories are about betrayal, danger, and survival. It shows societyís changed and maybe we need to look at it.
I work in Explosive Coastal Wrestling, and call myself a Swiss Army Knife of publicity - takes forty tools. I get wrestlers on radio shows like the Fresh and Funky Film Review Show or Genge and Barr drive time. I get them on television panels shows like Sweet and Sour or sports shows like The Locker Room. And naturally thereís the sports report on the evening news or in the television magazine at The West Australian and so on.
2. Do you feel you were creative, even as a child?
Actually, in some ways I lacked a lot of imagination as a child. Other kids could play with their toy space ship and imagine a stream of rocket exhaust, I couldnít. It wasnít real enough for me. Then again, anything less than something that works would have probably been not good enough.
I could do role playing, saying I was a character in Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians (except I kept trying to make the Indians win), and I could play the role. But for me the division between imagination and reality was always pretty clear.
3. Could you share with the story behind the story? In other words, how did your writing lead you to your first novel?
Actually it was my reading which led to my first novel much more than my writing. I wrote it inside a month and it was an outpouring. There were no notes or plot lines worked out. Itís one of those rare moments in writing where everything flows and youíre almost in a trance as you go.
Yet the background was vital. Slums of Paradise can be read as an adventure, an extended fable, or as a deep work of theological fiction.
4. How did you prepare for the creation of your first novel? How much research was necessary?
At the time of writing, I didnít research, I just wrote. Before that there were years of study. Books like Jonasí classic on gnosticism, Boak and Sinnigenís history of Rome, works on theology, and the like were all read and reread. For example, Slums has a character named Valentieve. He is a close parallel to the gnostic figure, Valentinus. Some of the statements Valentieve makes are in fact arguments about certain aspects of Vaentinusí theology for which we lack written evidence. There are other examples, but Iíll let the reader work them out.
5. What kind of reaction do people have to your writing?
The most interesting reaction I got was a rejection from a publisher, ďThis is the most interesting novel Iíve read all year, but we donít take first novels.Ē Which made me wonder why they asked for the full manuscript, but there you go. I think there is a real frustration within the publishing industry.
One person read the manuscript by candlelight during a blackout during one of the worst thunderstorms Perth has had for years. He later thought this might not be the best time to read a long book about vampires.
Generally, though, my writing - and by that I mean all my books - has been well received. Thereís been debate about a few things in the runes and Mithras, but in the end I think thatís all to the good. It helps clarify things. I have seen some of my ideas enter into the general areas of the fields of the books. For example, my idea on classes of dreams, which I presented in The Power of Dreaming, is starting to show up in more and more books.
6. Do you find anything difficult in the writing process, and if so what?
You mean other than not having instant acceptance of the book and massive sales with publication? Yes. People may love writing but I donít think theyíre necessarily comfortable with it. I know Iíve never been. Everything I write is a struggle. Even when the writing flows perfectly there was already the hard work of study, learning, absorbing the details that go into the book.
7. Do you currently have any writing projects?
Several, one of which Iíve mentioned. I usually have one or two projects which Iím concentrating one, right now this is a book on astrology. Then I have some projects which I work on in bits and pieces until I have the information, the focus, and the time to do it right. These can be anything from books to movies to book reviews to something in publicity to a new way to put on a chokeslam. This means thereís always a bit of a bottleneck for prime project position, but thatís the way I like it. The pressure makes me more efficient and more creative.
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
We cannot live without food, we do not exist without stories.
D Jason Cooper was born south of Toronto, Canada, grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Perth, Australia. He has a wife and two children, a girl, Shadra (aged twelve) a boy, Darius (aged eight), and two cats.
He holds a BA from the University of Western Australia and is the author of six other books, including Understanding Numerology, Using the Runes, Esoteric Rune Magic, The Power of Dreaming, Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered and The Astral Grail. He is a regular on Perth radio and has occasionally appeared on TV.