Secret Library Podcast


Secret Library Podcast Episodes

#36 Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper | Writing from History |

Kim Cooper | Writing from History |

Kim Cooper knows L.A. history like it's an old friend.

I've been an Angeleno for over ten years, but Kim Cooper is a big part of why I fell in love with the place. Together with her husband, Richard Schave, Kim runs Esotouric, the best thing ever to happen to Los Angeles history. From crime sprees to mobsters to cults, these two know all the deep dark secrets about L.A.'s past. If you come visit us, one of their tours is a must. 

I caught up with Kim on the show about the process of writing her novel The Kept Girl, a story featuring Raymond Chandler and a true tale of mayhem created by a would-be high priestess. We dive in to what it was like to write fiction about something that was largely true and how it felt to crete fiction under the weight of all her knowledge and research. We also get into the subscription model of publishing, connecting with characters from the past and the most unusual method of channeling dialogue I have heard yet. Plus a bit on fashion from times gone by. This one is sure to be a favorite.

Listen up on iTunes | Esotouric | The Kept Girl | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Show notes for Episode 36 with Kim Cooper:

  • Reconciling the historian and the fiction writer (3:20)

  • Working on true crime of Los Angeles (3:55)

  • Adding the extra 10% to the story and making it fiction (4:40)

  • Managing the facts and the details inside writing fiction (5:00)

  • Where the gaps had to be filled in to Raymond Chandler's story (7:10)

  • The context of other hidey-holes and cults in the same area (8:40)

  • Picking this particular story for The Kept Girl (9:20)

  • Taxi dancing and becoming a cult high priestess (10:00)

  • The politics of archiving newspapers (11:40)

  • Researching The Kept Girl (12:50)

  • The timeline of writing the book (13:30)

  • Outlining the book and materials (14:00)

  • Channeling Chandler in the saunas (14:30)

  • Connecting with read people & bringing them to life (16:00)

  • Widening circle archive research techniques to get the most materials (17:00)

  • The danger of getting lost in the history (19:00)

  • Exploring Truth while writing about history (19:40)

  • Deciding who you're writing for (20:00)

  • Collaborating with Richard (22:15)

  • Deciding to start a publishing imprint with subscriptions (22:50)

  • The process of publishing a physical book (24:15) Mentioned: Video of the book coming off the press

  • Factory porn (25:00)

  • The process of creating the cover (25:45) Mentioned: Paul Roger's Angel's Flight drawing

  • Designing the interior of the book and the physical object (28:30)

  • The ins and outs of the subscription model (29:30)

  • New projects & the guidebook to Los Angeles (32:00)

  • The lost Raymond Chandler operetta (32:30)

  • The craziness of Los Angeles in the early 1900s (33:30)

  • Timeline and method on the 10th Anniversary book (34:55)

  • The importance of landmarks in a story & preservation (35:15)

  • Why history is of such interest to us now (38:00) Mentioned:

  • The fashion of the past & challenges with hair (39:15)

  • What Kim is reading now (40:15) Mentioned: L.A. Kauffman's Direct Action (forthcoming)

  • How timing can be on your side as a writer (42:15)

This episode sponsored by Scrivener