Alan J. Cooper

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Alan J. Cooper of Toronto embarked on a writing career after being struck by an impaired driver and incurring a severe brain injury. A Paul Collins interview.

Tell us about your background. Who you are, where you are from? 
I am a born and bred Torontonian and 8th generation Ontarian, after my family fled the then new United States. My academic background is mixed, with undergraduate degrees in Economics, Business Administration and Education, and Masters in Education and Religious Education, although I am not religious and have never taught. Before writing my first book, BRAIN INJURY in 2006, I had been a career transition counsellor and earlier a marketing executive in a variety of experiences. Writing, for some time throughout my varied career, had been a serious hobby and I had free-lanced for the Globe and Mail.

Alan J. CooperWhat themes does your book explore and what do you hope the readers will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke for the reader?
My book, The SECOND A Novel about Spirituality, Religion, and Politics, explores the principles of spirituality versus the rules of religion. I hope that readers, who are hungry for, or at least curious about, the former but are disillusioned with the latter, will have their minds opened to alternative routes to both a god of their ongoing thinking and some fulfilment through spiritual progress rather than perfection. Feelings that I would like to invoke in the reader include reflection, self-evaluation, a broadening of awareness and concomitant hope.

What prompted you to be an author and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Did a certain person, artist, or genre influence you?
I wrote as a young child but my mother saw the word “sex” in one of my plays and told me that, while she had thought I had an ability to write, she then saw that I did not. Receiving, much later, a severe brain injury from an impaired driver unleashed a series of horrible events, which finally triggered my writing about my brain injury and fallout, from not only a neurological perspective but also a psychological, social, familial and vocational one. I was very much influenced by the works of Northrop Frye, such as The Great Code and by an obscure book given to me by a professor and mentor, Mature Religion by Orlo Strunk.

If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would they be and why?
I would have a tough time comparing my book, The SECOND to anything out there, a reality that prompted me in part to write it. The SECOND is fiction but I read 50 non-fiction books as input for my thinking, prior to spending 10,000 hours, over 4 years, actually writing the novel.

Tell us about your latest work and what inspired you to write it.
What inspired The SECOND was the Western World’s dramatic drop in church attendance over the last half-century, with an arguably equally large rise in spiritual hunger, as manifested in such things as environmental awareness, human rights concerns and social responsibility in general. That drop and simultaneous rise has left a huge gap that I hope The SECOND addresses at least in part.

Thanks for taking the time for this interview. All the best!
You are most welcome and thank you too.

Alan’s Website 

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