Q&A with Loren W Cooper & CrossTown Excerpt


  • By Loren W. Cooper
  • Editions: ebook, paperback
  • Published: November 14th 2017 by Red Hen Books
  • Genre: Adult Fantasy Mystery
  • Zethus is a sorcerer―a self-described spiritual thug for hire. He makes his living in CrossTown, a place where the manyworld hypothesis of modern physics manifests itself, where possibilities and probabilities overlap.
    Caught up in a web of intrigue as he investigates the death of his master, Corvinus, and pursued by agents that want to erase all knowledge of Corvinus’ work, Zethus discovers that the key to his master’s murder lies in the last project he had pursued before his death. The roots of this project lie deep in the past, at the origin of CrossTown’s fractured reality.
    Once he understands the stakes, Zethus must make the dangerous journey to the cradle of history. The price he must pay to find the answers he seeks will threaten everything he holds dear―including his own humanity.
    “Beware the road outside your front door, for it is all at once old friend and passing stranger.” –CrossTown

    ~ Bewitching BT

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    Roads and streets run like veins and arteries through the beating heart of CrossTown. Each runs through all manner of distant and not-so-distant possibilities.
    There’s a theory in modern physics that posits a universe for every decision we make. Each time we choose, right or left, high or low, vanilla or chocolate, we split into separate universes. A vanilla me here, a chocolate me there, a rocky road with pistachio me somewhere else, and some poor lactose intolerant me further down the line. The dominant me is my subjective reality. In CrossTown, the probable mes collapse into the dominant wave, but all those wandering Ways continually wash other alternate lives, lives meant to be lived in CrossTown, up on its jagged shores.
    The names of roads are choices; the turning and branching of roads are choices; roads are physical manifestations of their builders’ decisions…
    Everywhere, every place and every time where man or something like him has lived, roads run into one another, branch, disappear here and reappear over there as if they were quantum tunneling. They run, meet, part, cross again, and form a bewildering Mandelbrot set of linked probabilities.
    Beware the road outside your front door, for it is both old friend and passing stranger.
    All those choices, all hooked together, comprise a vast sea of possibility. A knowledgeable traveler can ride the currents in that sea to unimagined destinations…

    CrossTown is the crossroads of probability.


    1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?

    2. What would you say inspired you to write it? ?
    The opening seen actually rose out of a short story I wrote in response to a bad horror movie I saw that cast itself as science fiction, and unfortunately failed at both. The Jigsaw Man taking himself so seriously and the irreverence of the narrator came out of wanting to do that trope but better.

    3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist? ?
    Myth in both cases. I’ve always been fascinated by myth, so I often draw on myths or mythic characters. Let me only talk about the protagonist. For example, Zethus (the main character of CrossTown) is a throwaway character in Greek myth. Zethus is the brother of Amphion, who was a great musician. His music was so great, that when Zethus and he competed to build the walls of Thebes, Amphion played and the stones daned into place, whereas Zethus had to move the heavy stones by hand. Mphion wins, and Zethus vanishes from myth. But what might have happened to Zethus after that? Might he not have been inspired to seek out a magic of his own? And where might that search have taken him? And so the inspiration for the main character of CrossTown came about.

    4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it? ?
    I actually talk about this in my nonfiction book Chain of Ghosts, about storytelling, language, and the brain and how all of those interact. Specifically, I talk about processes for inviting the Muse. A certain poet used to work on ten or more poems at a time. When he started to falter on one, he would move to the next, and so on. Writer’s block can best be addressed by working on more than one project at a time, or by becoming an escape from other projects and stressors in your life. So the short answer is, of course, I’ve had blocks on any given work, and I’ve addressed those by turning my energies to another project and letting my subconscious chew on the other one for a while

    5. Your all time favorite book? ?That answer might vary from day to day, mood to mood. I usually have favorite authors more than favorite books, and even then I have a difficult time narrowing it down past five. Today, let’s say Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

    6. What made you pick that one above all others? ?I’ve always loved how Pirsig took many elements, journey, father/son story, detective story, history of philosophy, and blended them all into a perfect mix that entertains and informs.

    7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project? ? A novel usually drafts in about a year for me—but then I let it settle for a while, since I am not strong at revision until I can get enough distance to let the words fade. Some novels may go through 10-20 revisions prior to sale, then you go through the editorial process, where the outcomes of those are questioned? So for published or unpublished works? Longest draft, two years. Longest from initial draft to publication more than a decade—but of course, I’m putting that down and working on other things in the meantime…so complicated answer.

    8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way? ?
    I’ve spent my life as an author in many ways. I published my first article in high school. Published my first short story and novel in the 90s. I’d say it has made me more myself, in many ways.

    9. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? ?
    Not this work. There are stories that just don’t quite gel. Those may sit for a long time. Maybe they eventually become part of comething else, perhaps they evolve into a fully developed and complete story, or perhaps they hand out there, unresolved, waiting for the right element to come along and germinate the seed.

    10. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing? ?I’m a husband, a father, a son and a brother. Professionally, I’m an Global Systems Engineering Manager for HP, Inc. And I’m more than all those things.

    11. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect? ?
    Look, you won’t connect with everyone. Experience, perspective, what people come to a book both for and with, vary too much. And that’s OK. I read the reviews and see if there’s anything useful, but it usually goes back to my intent. Did I do what I intended? Hopefully yes. And of course you always fall short of the vision, but in the end it’s possible to execute your choices, and have those choices not align with a reader’s expectations. So then that reader is not for you. And you move on. Now, if those are the overwhelming responses you get, you probably did not execute what you intended, unless your goal was alienation.

    12. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series? ?
    I generally don’t do series, but the setting is pretty irresistible. In many ways CrossTown blurs character and setting. So it’s possible CrossTown could appear in a future work, but due to the nature of Zethus’ journey, I doubt there’s a story there I’m interested in pursuing.

    13. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series? ?I have a mss based on the end of days from the Norse perspective, but meshing characters from across history and bleeding into the present day that I’m putting in front of editors. I also have another novel in draft that’s more scifi than fantasy, but has a kind of fantasy overlay (see the Arthur C Clarke quote on how any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic).

    Fun facts: :

    1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for? ?Enlightenment.

    2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you? ?A friend of mine cheats on this, and says he’d count the full Master and Commander series as one book. Which is not a bad choice. For my part, it would depend on if I wanted to stay on the island. If not, probably something like The Survival Handbook. If I had to rescue one book out of a collection of books to have with me, probably the KJV of the Bible, if only for the power of the language.

    3. Name your favorite fruit. ? Granny Smith Apple

    4. Coffee or tea? ? Neither.

    5. Favorite season? ? Winter

    6. Were you a boyscout/girlscout? ?No.

    7. Favorite food for breakfast? ?Bourbon (Actually, that’s a writerly lie. Doesn’t it sound Faulknerian but short? Truth be told, I never liked breakfast.)

    8. Latest book you’ve bought and read? ?Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon

    9. Do you collect things like stamps, or key chains, or shoes? ? Do weapons count? I’ve studied martial arts for years and collect a wide variety of historical and modern weapons.

    10. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us! ?Black

    11. Drama or comedy? ? Comedy

    12. Have a fav quote or personal motto? ?Marcus Aurelius Meditations: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

    13. Cats or dogs? ? Dogs

    14. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing? ?Candlelight.

    Full Disclosure:

    1. You were/are a hardcore fan of… ? Roger Zelazny

    2. The awesomest thing in your life is… ?My family.

    About the Author & Links:

    Loren W Cooper is the author of four novels, one short story collection and one nonfiction work. He has won the NESFA in 1998 and the EPPIE for Best Anthology in 2001. He is married with two daughters. He currently lives in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Favorite authors include Zelazny, Hammet, Steakley, and Catton. Loren Currently works for Hewlett-Packard.

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