Thursday 3 May 2018

The Pursuit of Ordinary by Nigel Jay Cooper @nijay #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour #PursuitOfOrdinary

After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton, trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. But he cant forget the crash, can't get the face of the woman cradling her dying husband out of his mind. She stared into his eyes, his soul. He has to find her. Is Dan mentally ill or has he really been possessed by the spirit of Natalie's dead husband, Joe? If he hasn't, why does she let him into her home so easily? Does she have secrets of her own? The Pursuit of Ordinary is a twisting tale of modern life and mental health where nothing is what it seems... Following the success of debut novel Beat the Rain, Roundfire introduces the second book from bestselling author Nigel Jay Cooper.

The Pursuit of Ordinary by Nigel Jay Cooper was published on 27 April 2018. As part of the Random Things Tours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here today, he's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Nigel Jay Cooper

I decided not to overthink this and attack it by listing as quickly as possible the books that mean something to me without giving it conscious thought… Some of them surprised me.

Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood

I can’t explain how important this book is to me – in my teens this novel had me absolutely enthralled from its utterly wonderful opening line:

‘I don’t know how I should live. I don’t know how anyone should live. All I know is how I do live. I live like a peeled snail. And that’s no way to make money.’

This is the novel that cemented my resolve to write. Atwood’s use of language enthralled me – still does. She can say something in one sentence another writer might take two pages to say.

Life Before Man fascinated me not only because of the extraordinary language use – but in the ordinariness of its plot. It’s about an unhappy marriage, nothing more, nothing less. Life, beautifully and heart-wrenchingly laid bare on the page. Her other novels get more acclaim and visibility, but for me, this is a masterpiece.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

This novel transported me into another world – one I became fully immersed in. These sensual, beautiful, damaged monsters were human because of their flaws. The creation of Claudia, the child vampire who never grew up was pure, heart-breaking genius.

For me, this is first and foremost a story about people fighting against their true natures and eventually learning to live with who they were. As a teenager, this was incredibly important novel for me on my own journey to adulthood.

If you haven’t read this book, read it – you don’t have to be a fan of horror or vampire stories to love it.

Immortality by Milan Kundera

I must re-read this novel as it’s been years since I revisited it and I always find something new. Weirdly, the thing that sticks with me most isn’t any main
character or plot point, it’s a small detail that changed how I viewed the world.

A noisy moped passes a character in the street – Kundera goes to great lengths to show that the owner of the moped made an active choice to take the muffler off. She wanted it to be noisy – it wasn’t accidentally or incidentally noisy.

This small scene is part of a wider exploration in the novel of how people choose to display themselves to the outside world via their objects – clothes, cars, possessions etc.

This notion stuck with me. I still look at people and try to see the deliberate choices they’ve made to announce themselves to the world. Their choices – from clothes to possessions – show us how they want to be seen (although not necessarily who they truly are).

You Are Not So Smart by David Mcraney

A non-fiction book, but again one I think everyone should read. Reading this (and other books like it) opened a door for me I couldn’t go back through – nor did I want to.

It turns everything you think you know about yourself and your thought processes on its head. Honestly, you’re not so smart. Neither am I. Sorry about that.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

There’s nothing new I need to say about this novel but the reason it means something to me is simply this quote:

‘They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made.’

Even as a teenager when I first read this book, that quote had a terrible truth to it.

People like Tom and Daisy are all around us – and they often don’t know they’re like it.

This quote has always stayed with me and somehow, I think it informs my own writing at a deep, granular level.

American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

I have to be honest and say I don’t really like this novel. I found it uncomfortable, aggressive and it’s not something I’d choose to re-read. However, it’s brilliantly written and it did leave a legacy. It taught me that not all protagonists have to be likeable and – as a fan of unreliable narrators – I have to take my hat off to Ellis. Narrators don’t come much more unreliable than Patrick Bateman.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Another non-fiction book - it was literally world-changing for me to read a book celebrating introverts. It allowed me to let go of a life-long feeling that being an introvert meant I was less able than an extrovert – and to celebrate the positives of introversion, instead of focusing only on the negatives.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I have to include this not because of the novel itself (which is obviously fantastic) but because when I finished the first draft of my first novel Beat The Rain, I did a Facebook post saying ‘Reader, I finished it.’ – a play on the immortal Jane Eyre line ‘Reader, I married him.’

When I finished The Pursuit of Ordinary, I superstitiously did the same thing and now it’s tradition.

Nigel Jay Cooper - May 2018 

Author, writer, father, runner. Not always in that order. Born in London, England, Nigel lives in Brighton with his partner, their two children and greying ginger dog.

His first novel, Beat The Rain, was published in July 2016 and became his publishers bestselling title. It was also nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 for Best Debut Author. 

His second novel, The Pursuit of Ordinary, will be published in 2018.

Nigel was co-founder of global advocate marketing platform Qubist (Qube Media) and previously worked as a writer and editor for Channel 4 Television and as a newspaper sub editor.

He's a sometime marathon runner and occasional actor and singer. Sometimes his brain switches off and lets him sleep, but not that often.

Twitter @nijay

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