Spotlight on Local writer, and Award-winning journalist, Desiree Cooper
Very recently during my online research for a local story I came across a web link to a local blogger by the name of Desiree Cooper. Her blog is entitled ‘Detroit Diary’ and I found her views on the local topics interesting and very well written. When you learn of her credentials her talent shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. She has had an extensive career as an author and a journalist.
Desiree Cooper is somewhat a local celebrity. Many readers of the Detroit Free Press are probably very aware of her prestigious career as a writer and journalist. I felt it was important to introduce her to my dampfang.com readers. So of course I contacted her and asked rather humbly if she would do an interview with me. To my happy surprise she agreed. My questions are in bold and her answers are in italic.
1. What part of the Michigan do you live in (how long in Michigan)?
I currently live in West Bloomfield, Michigan. I have lived in Michigan since 1984, and spent 25 years living in a wonderful, historic neighborhood in the City of Detroit.
2. When did you know you wanted to become a writer? Did you find it challenging to accomplish what you have in the field of Journalism?
I don’t remember NOT writing. Since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve always cared about stories and wrote my own greeting cards, books and poems. I’m very proud of my accomplishments in journalism, and they came through a lot of trial and error and hard work-and faith. But I feel like I still have many goals to reach. I am, at heart, a creative writer. My journalism career has taught me to learn how to find a story anywhere. Now I’m prepared to look deep inside for the stories that demonstrate larger human Truths.
3.Can you give me a brief bio on your family background, education, experience?
I’m a military brat, born in Itazuke, Japan. I spent nine of my first 14 years on various Japanese islands, and have also lived in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Michigan. I got my bachelor of science in journalism and economics at the University of Maryland where I was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. I got my juris doctor at the University of Virginia and practiced law for five years in Michigan before moving into the nonprofit and academic sectors. It took me 12 years to fall back into journalism, which I long considered a hobby rather than a profession. My first job in journalism was as a columnist for the alternative newsweekly, the Metro Times. I eventually became the editor of that publication. I was a columnist for the Detroit Free Press for nearly 11 years, and co-hosted American Public Media’s national radio program “Weekend America.” I have also freelanced for National Public Radio and the BBC.
4. What/who inspires your writing? Who are the writers you most admire?
For me, writing is like breathing. In fact, when I don’t write, I have physical symptoms that feel like withdrawal. It’s my way of processing my world and the emotions that life evokes. I believe that stories can transcend, teach and translate the human experience. I admire writers who are not confined by their own demographics: Pearl Buck, Carol Shields, Kate Atkinson, Michael Cunningham, Zadie Smith.
5. What you would like the readers to know about you as well as any awards and acknowledgments you have received?
My two adult children are my best friends. Before I die, I’d like to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, just once. I am proud to have been twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. My first published short story, “Night Coming,” was selected to be in the anthology Best African American Fiction 2010. I have a novella published in the anthology, Other People’s Skin.
6. Why did you feel it was important to write your blog about life in Detroit? What other things do you currently have in the works? (Books, etc)
I write a blog about Detroit to try to humanize one of the most stereotyped places in the world. People assume that they know our story, but they don’t. It’s an honor to let Detroit speak for itself. I am currently working on shorter creative forms, including novellas and flash fiction. I hope to have a flash fiction collection finished by the end of the year. Also, for the past decade, I’ve been working on a novel based on my grandmother’s life as a mixed-race person in rural Virginia.
7. Can you be contacted? Links you’d like to share?
I can be contacted at email@example.com or better yet, on Facebook. Some of my favorite links are:
http://www.themoth.org/, http://phillisremastered.wordpress.com/, http://www.empowerourselves.org/