Meet Isabel Cooper & W*in LESSONS AFTER DARK

Quick commercial break…First, I’m over at the Book Faery blog today, being bodily assaulted by my wizard DJ–check it out. I’m also interviewed today over at the Manga Mania Cafe. Stop by if you get a chance! But first, read on for a chance to win Isabel Cooper’s new book!

Okay, today I’d like to welcome Isabel Cooper, the author of a deliciously gothic new paranormal romance called Lessons After Dark—and she does a great interview! Isabel lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing; all the while, she’s writing dark, edgy and magical romance novels. Her debut novel (which I loved, by the way), No Proper Lady, was named a 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in the romance category, a 2011 Library Journal Best Romance of the Year and received an RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence for the month of September 2011. For more information, please visit
Want a copy of Lessons After Dark for yourself? Read on…

ABOUT LESSONS AFTER DARK  A woman with an unspeakable past…Olivia Brightmore didn’t know what to expect when she took a position to teach at Englefiend School, an academy for “gifted” children. But it wasn’t having to rescue a young girl who levitated to the ceiling. Or battling a dark mystery in the surrounding woods. And nothing could have prepared her for Dr. Gareth St. John…A man with exceptional talent…He knew all about her history and scrutinized her every move because of it. But there was more than suspicion lurking in those luscious green eyes. Even with all the strange occurrences at the school, the most unsettling of all is the attraction pulling Olivia and Gareth together with a force that cannot be denied.

Now, let’s hear from Isabel. Welcome!

Give us the “elevator pitch” for Lessons After Dark.
It’s set at this school that’s like the Victorian magical equivalent of Xavier’s Academy in the X-Men: the students mostly are going to become superheroes, or at least fight evil.  The new magic teacher there is Olivia Brightmore, this widow who used to be a fake medium and then found out how to do real magic. The school doctor, Gareth St. John, remembers her from her bilking-the-tourists days and doesn’t trust her at all; she picks up on that and doesn’t much like him—but they’re definitely attracted to each other. Then weird stuff starts happening, they have to work together, and one thing leads to another…

What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
I’m on a YA nostalgia kick at the moment (I go through these phases, I think it has to do with the barometer or something), so I’ve got Barthe DeClements’s Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You and Maud Hart Lovelace’s Heaven to Betsy up there. I’m also looking forward to getting The Look of Love: The Art of the Romance Novel next time I go to the library, because that sounds like good fun.

Favorite book when you were a child?
A Little Princess. Absolutely. I loved the descriptions of Sarah’s ridiculous wealth, and the loss and restoration arc as well. I attempted to make the whole thing into some kind of play when I was eight or nine, but the neighborhood kids were not what you might call cooperative.
Your five favorite authors?
 Robin McKinley: she has a great writing style, creates fascinating worlds, and has written some of the only love triangle plots that I can actually enjoy.
Terry Pratchett: his sense of humor is great, but what he does with a serious moment or theme is even better in a lot of ways.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I got really into fantasy with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and still re-read it every few years.
Stephen King: for all of the gore and scariness—which is vast—I find his works both hopeful and comforting somehow, and always easy to read.
Jane Austen: even two hundred years later, her books are still accessible, and her characters are very compelling.
Book you’ve faked reading?
Ha! Quite a number of them back in my college days, let me tell you. I took a very flexible approach to homework back then. The one that comes to mind is The Blithedale Romance: like, it’s a romance, it was actually for a class on romance novels, but oh my God Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote like he was actually doing penance for something, and I just…no. Better things to do, when I was nineteen. Luckily, I bluff very well.

Book you’re an evangelist for?
…like, just one? Okay. Um. I’m gonna go with McKinley’s Hero and the Crown, on the grounds that most people talking to me probably have an opinion or five on Tolkien already. Plus, Hero is all about winning and finding where you belong—despite everyone around you being an enormous jerk, just about, oh my GOD Galanna—not so much through sparkly magic or being saved by a guy, but rather through being pigheaded and curious. Being both, I approve.

Book you’ve bought for the cover?
I actually haven’t in a while, oddly enough. These days, I buy most of my books online, so I end up flipping around a lot before I buy something, or I know that I absolutely want it now ye gods.  

Book that changed your life?
The Hobbit. Absolutely. If I didn’t read that, I probably wouldn’t have become the giant fantasy geek that I am, which has pretty much influenced everything from middle school onward. Somewhere there’s an alternate universe where I never read it and became a cheerleader or collected stamps or something. It’s a strange and creepy place, that universe. 

Favorite line from a book?
“Personal isn’t the same as important,” from Pratchett’s Men At Arms. At least where resonant-truth-type-stuff is concerned.

Book you most want to read again for the first time?
important Actually, A Countess Below Stairs, by Eva Ibbotsen. It’s pretty re-readable as well–and I do a big line in re-reading, due to childhood deprivation of some sort–but for the first time, there’s just such delight in wondering what sort of awful thing the hero’s awful fiancee is going to do next. … Most horrifying moment while reading a book? In terms of book content? Oh, man, there’s this scene in IT with a refrigerator and…bugs. I can’t even read that passage now that I’ve read it once: I skip right over it. Gah, bugs. Cannot deal.

Favorite book about books or writing?
I really enjoyed Stephen King’s On Writing, as far as advice and writing-about-the-writing-experience goes. How Not to Write a Novel is also hilarious. And I’m also going to cheat a little on the “book” thing and mention TVTropes here, because wow: in terms of breaking down the components of stories and taking a look at them, it is great. In terms of not doing any work ever for three hours, and also working your way through an entire box of Junior Mints, it is also great. Unfortunately.

Many thanks, Isabel—I don’t know TVTropes, but I’m off to look for it! You know the drill to win a copy of Lessons After Dark. One entry for comment, another for blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet. Now…Go forth and comment!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

26 thoughts on “Meet Isabel Cooper & W*in LESSONS AFTER DARK

  1. I love the idea of a Victorian boarding school for superheroes! (I’m kind of a nerd, what can I say?) I’m also a HUGE fan of Robin McKinley’s books, although I prefer The Blue Sword over Hero and the Crown, just because I read TBS first. Both are outstanding.

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  2. The books written by Tolkien hold also a great importance in my life

    thanks you a lot for this opportunity to win your book

    all the best

    +1blog follow


  3. @Rebe: Hee! Oh, I’m pretty nerdy myself.

    And I find that the Sword/Hero preference does sort of divide by which one you read first.

    @Miki: Amazing, aren’t they?

    Thank you both for your comments!

  4. I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds very interesting.

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  5. Thanks for the interview ladies, this book sure sounds very interesting.

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    auriansbooks at gmail dot com

  6. Thank you guys very much for your comments! I hope you enjoy Lessons After Dark (as well as No Proper Lady, Linda).

    And Suzanne, thank you very much for having me!

  7. This book sounds GREAT. it looks like it has it all and I’d love to read it

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    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  8. Hi Isabel, nice to “meet” you! I just heard about No Proper Lady last week (I know, seems I’ve been living under a rock..) and immediately added it to my wishlist as soon as I saw that the heroine was a mix of My Fair Lady and Terminator heroine 😀 And now “ictorian magical equivalent of Xavier’s Academy in the X-Men” How unique do your novels sound? Another one added to that dangerously teetering wishlist 😉

    Thank you for the interesting interview Ladies and congratulations Isabel on the release!!

    Thank you for the great giveaway!

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    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

  9. This sounds like a good read for me, would love to be entered for this giveaway!

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  10. I enjoyed No Proper Lady, and after this interview I’m really looking forward to Lessons After Dark. 🙂

    rissatoo (ATgmail DOTcom)
    +4: commenter, follower, follower, retweeter

  11. I’d love to read this book. Sounds like a great book.

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    +1 Twitter follow (@JoanneBalinski)

    Joanne B