Today I am thrilled to welcome Doug Cooper, scifi author of the riveting Crystal series. Check out these stunning covers and stick around to meet the scientist behind the novels!
Criss lives in a special kind of prison. He can see and hear everything around the world. Yet a 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…
Crystal Conquest, book II in the Crystal Series, builds on the exciting storyline and characters you first met in Crystal Deception. While Crystal Conquest stands on its own as a great read, book I, Crystal Deception, delivers a solid story foundation and is the recommended starting point for new readers.
Aliens fire the first shots in their invasion of Earth, and that’s when Criss realizes he’s outmatched. He spent years preparing for this moment, working with his human leadership to develop weapons and refine strategies. Created with the thinking and reasoning ability of a thousand people, Criss never expected the invaders to arrive with an artificial intelligence that dwarfed his capabilities, nor did he expect to be the target of their vengeance…
This prequel takes place five years before the time of Crystal Deception, where we meet Cheryl as a captain of a military space cruiser and Sid as a covert warrior for the Defense Specialists Agency. We learn in Crystal Deception that Sid and Cheryl have a shared history and, in particular, a romantic relationship that has somehow gone awry. In this prequel, we join them on the day they first meet and we experience that history with them…
Hello Doug and welcome to my blog!
Thank you, Effrosyni! This is quite a thrill.
What have you been up to? Tell us about your latest project.
I am now finishing Crystal Rebellion, the third full-length scifi-suspense book of Crystal series, and I am very excited. I love the story, think it’s my best work yet, and am anxious to learn if my fans and new readers agree.
The first two books, Crystal Deception and Crystal Conquest, established the characters and defined their world—Earth in the not-to-distant future with aliens at our door and AI helping with our defense.
This new book is different because it introduces our heroes as an established and functioning team rather than one in the process of self-discovery. I’ve written the story as a stand-alone book so new readers can start with it and enjoy the fun.
The setting is on Mars, and the bad guys are three AI crystals left behind after the last alien invasion of our solar system. The story contains all the grand elements of the Crystal series tradition—aliens, spies, artificial intelligence, romance, and battles in space!
Our heroes struggle to save the world and soon realize they need to save themselves. I’ll leave it at that as I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. I invite everyone to give the book a read when it is released in August, 2016, and enjoy the ride!
Sounds like a riveting read, Doug. What other work and writing have you done?
I am professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut. I also am founder of Control Station, Inc., a software and services technology company. These are both exciting endeavors and consume the bulk of my day.
In these professional roles, I have authored or co-authored more than 80 scholarly publications, including technical journal articles, conference papers, and a textbook. All that writing gave me the basics I have been building upon for my creative work. It also has given me lots of practice presenting science and technology concepts in a manner accessible to a broad audience, and this is something I draw upon in writing my books.
What inspired you to take up the life of a writer?
I was looking for a new creative outlet in my life and started chasing a handful of ideas. I storyboarded a series of webcasts to go with my online textbook (www.controlguru.com), I outlined intellectual property ideas for a new technology company, and I tapped away at my keyboard writing a science fiction novel. Within months, my writing morphed into a passion and I dropped my other projects to give myself more time for it. I’ve been at it for about four years and my writing time remains a most treasured part of my day.
For the Crystal series, my goal is to write books that I would enjoy reading. My preference is fast-paced, action-adventure stories with great characters, a space tech theme, and a plot line with surprises. I leave it to readers to tell me if I succeeded in that goal.
How do you get ideas for your characters? Do you model them after people you know?
None of my characters model a particular person. Rather, they all are a collection of traits and habits that I have observed in people, through reading, or from movies. I write in a rotating point of view (POV) style where the reader spends time with each of the central characters, sometimes in different story lines that eventually merge as the plot develops. It’s great fun to sit down and “be” a character for a few days, observing events, drawing conclusions, and responding appropriately as that portion of the story unfolds.
I would describe my process for developing a character as much like building a jigsaw puzzle. I enjoy being at a particular point in an adventure, with characters deployed here and there, all with histories and in certain situations, and now I must move the story forward in a plausible and entertaining fashion. And in doing so, each character must behave in a manner consistent with their personality.
Which authors influenced you and what do you love about them?
As a kid, I discovered Tom Swift, Jr., a young adult science fiction series. In different books, Tom builds a flying lab, a jet submarine, a giant robot, a rocket ship—I was in heaven. During my teens I gobbled science fiction, reading authors like Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury. I started mixing in fantasy authors, ranging from Tolkien to Piers Anthony to Zelazny. Now, too often I find myself reading best sellers, because that’s what’s available in airports when I travel.
Many among the authors I’ve interviewed have a pet as a writing companion. Do you have one?
Yes, I do! My wife got a kitten about six months ago—Bailey Cooper. He gets up with me every morning and hangs out in his perch, watching me type. That is, until he gets bored. Then he works hard to distract me. 🙂
Oh, he is so beautiful! And I have a cat too, I know what you mean! Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write every day and have fun doing it. Writing is art, and so there will be people who like what you do and those who don’t. So like any art form, do it for yourself. Write what brings you joy and satisfaction, and you will produce the best work you are able to.
One way to practice is to write pieces and then stick them in a drawer. An alternative is to write things that will help society. Your neighborhood library, museum, senior center, or shelter all have access to grant opportunities and would benefit from a talented individual willing to help them write one. It’s hard work. It’s only creative to the extent you can spin the circumstances of the organization you are supporting to the requirements of the granting agency. But I know that anyone who writes a dozen grant applications will be judged a dozen times. It’s frustrating work, but like practicing your scales on an instrument, this sort of activity strengthens writing skills.
Great advice, thank you Doug. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
My highest priority is to entertain. The educator in me reveals himself, though, because my next priority is to teach. I spread those pieces out so (hopefully) no one notices. But I enjoy weaving tidbits about science and technology into the stories.
For example, in a scene in Crystal Conquest, a character is in space looking back at Earth, marveling that the atmosphere responsible for protecting and nourishing all life appears as a thin layer—a wisp of gas—circling the planet. The scene continues with him wondering how that meager film can feel so thick and boundless when standing on Earth and looking up at the sky.
So, perhaps next time readers see a picture of Earth taken from space, they might take a moment to consider if “meager film” is an accurate descriptor of the atmosphere that protects us. If they agree and this is a new observation to them, perhaps it will inform their future thoughts and actions about how to treat that wisp of gas.
In the books, you can find a science-filled sentence or two about AI inference engines, orbital mechanics, automatic control systems, cloaking devices, and lots more, all buried in the stories so you don’t even know!
Why did you choose to become an indie author rather than follow the traditional publishing route?
I chose the indie route for a number of reasons: I’m anxious to get new works out to readers in a timely fashion; I want to maintain long-term control over the work, and I am excited by the entrepreneurial challenge. Self-publishing has all aspects of the small business enterprise, including product creation, branding and marketing, finance, project management, and intellectual property concerns. I love exploring ways to pull those levers to advance my writing career.
Well, Doug, this has been a real pleasure. Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you, Effrosyni, for this opportunity to talk about my work.
As a child, Doug stood on a Florida beach and watched an Apollo spacecraft climb the sky on its mission to the moon. He was thrilled at the sight of the pillar of flames pushing the rocket upward. And then the thunderous roar washed over him, shaking his body and soul. The excitement of the moon landing inspired Doug to pursue a career in technology. He studied Chemical Engineering in college and now works as a professor and entrepreneur when he is not writing. His passions include telling inventive tales, mentoring driven individuals, and everything sci-tech.
In the books of the Crystal series, Doug swirls his creative imagination with his life experiences to craft science fiction action-adventure stories with engaging characters and plot lines 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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