Maren Cooper grew up in the Midwest and now resides in Minnesota. During her long career as a health services executive, she led a number of organizations in their efforts to respond to the challenges of new, competitive business models, improve their operating systems, and optimize their governance structures. A lifelong reader, Cooper recently discovered the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, began taking classes, and slowly unearthed the aspiring writer inside her. She writes best on the shore of Lake Superior, where she retreats frequently to hike, watch the deer devour her hostas, and needlepoint.
Biggest literary influencers:
Anne Patchett, Elizabeth Stroud, Anne Tyler, Amour Towles, J.K. Rowling
The book that changed your life:
I don’t remember the name of the book, what it was about or the author’s name. I do know it was a hard-cover book with a squirrel on the cover. I was in third grade. It was not a text book, but a book to read for pleasure. A chapter book with lots of pages, and no pictures.
This is why it changed my life.
Mrs. Snyder, my teacher, suggested I do some extra reading—extracurricular reading she called it. I got to choose the book from a shelf she kept for students who she thought were ready for more advanced reading. When I had finished it, she engaged me in a discussion about the book— what I liked, what the story line was, and what I had learned through reading it.
I never forgot the lesson of the amazing effect you can have on someone by setting a high expectation, and then participating in their development.
Cultivating achievement is an art.
Your favorite literary character:
Currently, I am totally smitten by Cormoran Strike, J.K. Rowling’s unlikely hero/detective in the Cormoran Strike series she’s writing under the pen name of John Galbraith.
But, my favorites tend to evolve, but have one winning characteristic—they are such good-hearted but imperfect beings on the page!
Franklin Starlight, the hero in Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk
Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov in Amour Towles’ Gentleman in Moscow
Virgil Flowers in any of the books featuring him written by John Sanford
Fiona in The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
Lavinia in The Amendment by Anne Leigh Parrish
Currently working on:
Novel Number Two—untitled as yet.
Words to live by:
Don’t waste time on regret.
Advice to new and aspiring authors:
READ, WRITE, READ, WRITE, REPEAT.
“Both sprightly and deeply felt, A Better Next captures the losses, trade-offs, and reward of the contemporary career woman/wife/mother. Many are the women who will recognize themselves in Jess’s story.”
Faith Sullivan, author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse
“Take a woman determined to move on from a failed marriage, giver her the support of loyal women friends, and plunge her into a morally challenging, high-level business merger—now that’s a story that will keep you turning the pages late in to the night!”
Jenni Ogden, author of A Drop in the Ocean
“Jess Lawson is an expert multi-tasker, successfully juggling marriage, family, and career. Yet when her husband announces that he’s through, things threaten to spin out of control. Can she hang on, restore balance, and put everything right? Or must she accept what she can’t control? Maren Cooper’s debut novel takes the reader on Jess’s personal journey with skill, compassion, and insight. A Better Next is a lovely read.”
Anne Leigh Parrish, author of The Amendment