Doctor and Sun columnist writes novel in Hampstead heatwave

Dr Carol Cooper launches her latest novel Hampstead Fever at Daunts,South End Green

Dr Carol Cooper launches her latest novel Hampstead Fever at Daunts,South End Green - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Carol Cooper is the busiest in Hampstead; a doctor, university lecturer, Sun columnist, and Newsnight talking head.

Carol Cooper must be one of the busiest people in Hampstead; a doctor, university lecturer, Sun columnist, and occasional TV talking head.

How she finds time to write novels is anybody’s guess but her second book, out this month is a pacy read set in NW3 during a heatwave that brings passion and panic to boiling point.

Hampstead Fever (Hardwick Press £7.99) follows several characters going through tough times including chef Dan, married to the woman of his dreams, with a new baby and a job in a trendy Hampstead bistro; stressed doctor Geoff who hooks up with a mercurial actress; journalist Harriet whose long term relationship has just finished, and single mother of four Karen who wonders if she’ll ever find a suitable man.

“I’ve probably been writing all my life. My mum often took out her old typewriter - so I guess I was about five when I started writing!” says Cooper who admits she likes keeping busy.

In the last 25 years she’s written non-fiction features and medical articles but it was her work as a doctor that gave her material to write a novel.

“A lot stands out from my work talking to patients and seeing how they live.

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“I see a lot of personal and psychological distress and also try to put myself into their shoes and see things through their eyes.”

She adds: “A multi-view point novel is a good way to show mounting tension.

“I like looking at real situations, whether fiction or non-fiction and what I write is usually quite easy to read, but I’m often taking on some heavy issues.

“I enjoy writing in a light way about important things.”

Carol wanted to set her book in the area where she’s lived for seven years and where her son Oliver is a local councillor.

“Hampstead is such a beautiful place with all the parks, architecture and deep history.

“It’s full of interesting people. It was the perfect setting, I could just see my characters living there, their lives played against this backdrop.”

Even during her medical studies living in Highgate, Cooper always yearned to live in Hampstead.

“It’s perfect: it is real but also aspirational the people are mainly professionals, middle class or young families. So I have that mix in the book.”

Cooper’s non-fiction books are about stressed mothers and parenting, something she weaves into Hampstead Fever by writing about a first-time mother.

It’s a stress she experienced herself, despite being more prepared than most mothers.

“My first son was two when I had twins, which definitely was a steep learning curve.

“But I think you are always learning something as a parent.”

When it comes to stressful situations, Cooper has learned several tricks for calming down, whether it’s child-related or going on live TV.

“I usually take a deep breath and think ‘will this really matter in a few years’ time?’ The answer is generally ‘no’.

“One of my first TV appearances was on Newsnight, and believe me there is nothing scarier than being on Newsnight!

“It was a programme about stress, and at that moment I really did feel stressed.”