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Novelist returns to Sandusky

Tom Jackson • Mar 8, 2014 at 11:20 PM

Author Doug Cooper, born in Sandusky and raised in Port Clinton, lived in Norway for several years and has visited Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, Tokyo, Berlin, Rome and Madrid.

But when it was time for Cooper, 43, to write his first novel, “Outside In,” he decided to set it in Put-in-Bay, only a few miles from where he grew up.

Many of the scenes in the book take place at the Perry Monument.

Cooper, who lives in Las Vegas and is working on his second novel, will be coming home to make bookstore appearances to promote “Outside In.” He’ll be doing readings and signing copies from March 12-15 at various northern Ohio locations.

The hero of “Outside In” Brad Shepherd, is a schoolteacher whose career abruptly ends when a student dies of a drug overdose in his class. It wasn’t Shepherd’s fault, but he loses his job. Bereft of his career, he goes to Put-in-Bay and proceeds tolose himself in booze and drugs, among other pursuits. After losing himself in dissipation, Shepherd begins to find out who he really is.

“Excess and instant gratification characterize our modern existence, and people respond by self-medicating to alleviate the resulting chaos and confusion,” Cooper writes in a question-and-answer section in his book.

“The problem is that we are attempting to solve the problem of excess with more excess. This is not a uniquely American problem; it’s just more prevalent and publicized here” he wrote.

Cooper was born in Sandusky and grew up in Port Clinton, where he graduated from high school in 1988. He was the quarterback and captain of the football team, as well as captain of the basketball team, he said during a phone interview from Las Vegas.

He was also a good student. The biography at his official website says he made all A’s, except for a B in shop class, which he blames on a poorlywrought candlestick.

The bio also says his stint as a bartender in Ann Arbor, Mich., was marred by career setbacks. “Led the service industry in drinks spilled on customers” his bio states. Cooper said his novel also has many humorous moments. “Some of it’s very dry humor,” he said. Like Shepherd, Cooper taught in public schools, but he says while the book drew on a few of his own experiences, it’s mostly fiction.

“A teacher makes a good protagonist. Everyone’s been a student, so they can relate to a teacher” Cooper said.

Cooper said he admires authors such as Bret Easton Ellis, the author of “Less Than Zero,” and “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk. He also likes Michael Chabon and said “Valley of the Dolls,” by Jacqueline Susann, is one of his favorite books.

The globetrotting author, who lived in Norway for five years before moving to Las Vegas in 2012 to research his next book, said he hasn’t ruled out living in northern Ohio again, where all of his relatives still live.

“That’s always on the horizon,” Cooper said. “I would love to spend my summers on the islands over there and write from there”

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