Doctor and Sun columnist writes novel in Hampstead heatwave
- 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.
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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.”