This is our 20th “Author Interview Friday”. I hope you have all been enjoying getting to know more about P&R authors.
This week we get to learn more about author Derek Cooper, author of two P&R books: Christianity and World Religions: An Introduction to the World’s Major Faith and Thomas Manton: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Pastor.
- Question #1 — Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what do you do in your spare time, etc.
I was “born and bred,” as they say, in East Texas. I met the love of my life in college in Texas, where I majored in Spanish. After college, I was married in the Northeast, where my wife is from. I attended seminary, and then began teaching Spanish at Phil-Mont Christian Academy outside of Philadelphia. Eventually I entered a PhD program in historical theology and graduated in 2008.
Currently, I am Associate Professor of World Christian History at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, PA. I also direct the LEAD Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry programs. In addition to teaching, I also lead trips to the Holy Land.
Because I have three young children, I don’t have much time for personal hobbies! However, some of the things I enjoy doing in my spare time include traveling, especially internationally, cooking, and being outdoors with my family.
- Question #2 — What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?
Travel, poetry, primary writings, and certain songs inspire me the most as a writer. I am most energized by ideas, which I frequently receive in tandem with these things. I think that writing is really a dance between inspiration and discipline. Without discipline, no one would ever find the time to write; and without inspiration, no one would have anything interesting to say.
- Question #3 — Do you have a favorite author?
There are a variety of authors that I enjoy reading. I think that it’s important, as a writer, to read widely across disciplines and genres. Here are just a few authors I enjoy reading:
Ernest Hemingway for fiction because he could communicate more in a sentence than many writers could in a page. Also, unlike someone such as Charles Dickens, I like how he used adjectives rarely and wrote directly.
Pablo Neruda and Robert Frost for poetry. They were true poets who spoke out of their experiences, thought symbolically and figuratively, and knew how to arrange the right words in the right way to create the right cadence.
Philip Jenkins for academic writing. Jenkins is an innovator who writes imaginatively and provocatively. He’s a rare personality who can convey academic research into a manageable, readable, and enjoyable format.
- Question #4 — At what time of day do you write most?
I am sharpest from around 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., and so that is when I plan to do the bulk of my writing. I try to edit my writing in the morning when I am not at my best.
- Question #5 — What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
One piece of advice I would offer to aspiring writers is to be fully willing to delete sentences and whole paragraphs as they edit. If you think about it, writing is a lot like speaking. How many times have you said something that you wished you would not have said and would like to take back? In writing, we get the opportunity to erase mistakes we make and think more clearly about how something should be communicated. We must not become too attached to our words. Recently, I deleted about 10,000 words from a manuscript I submitted. It was very painful to delete those 10,000 words since I spent a lot of time working on them. But if they are not helpful to the greater story, unnecessary or redundant, then they have to go.
“The best way for readers to connect with me is through my faculty website at Biblical Seminary: http://www.biblical.edu/derek-cooper.”