Timothy Jay Smith, an American in Paris who has placed several times with his novels in the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition, has struck gold with two of those novels. Earlier this year, he self-published in January Cooper’s Promise and sold approximately 3,000 copies in three months! And Kirkus Reviews has given this exciting novel a glowing review, calling the book, “Literary dynamite.” As a result, a small literary press – Owl Canyon Press of Boulder, CO, has decided not to publish one but two of Tim’s novels. Cooper’s Promise is being withdrawn from the market and will be re-released in October by Owl Canyon Press. Checkpoint (aka Men of the Earth) will be published May, 2013. Currently, Tim is exchanging ideas on modest changes to the screenplay adaptation of Cooper’s Promise with the producer of The King’s Speech and the same producer has asked to see his screenplay adaptation of Checkpoint!
Tim founded the Smith Prize for political theatre seven years ago to give an outlet for playwrights willing to tackle the difficult issues of our times (www.nnpn.org/prog_smith.php). “Thanks for creating so many opportunities for writers through the Faulker-Wisdom Competition’s many categories. And thanks again for recognizing my work in the past. I am sure these credits on my resume contributed to the serious look I’ve been given by publishers and others.”
Praise for Cooper’s Promise:
In Smith’s debut novel, a former American soldier hiding out in a small African country can’t escape the ghosts of his past.
Sgt. Cooper, an Army deserter, spends his days in Lalanga, drinking cheap gin in a dive. He makes a promise to Lulay, a young girl who sells herself each night, to someday take her away. What little money Cooper makes comes from buying smuggled diamonds from a blind boy and his sister, and turning a meager profit at an Arab merchant’s shop. There, he meets the merchant’s son, Sadiq, with whom he becomes quickly enamored; he longs to accidentally run into him at a local hammam (a bathhouse and massage parlor). But Cooper’s life is confounded by a strange man named Sam Brown, who offers him a way to return to the United States with an honorable discharge—if he’ll use his sharpshooter skills again. Smith’s first effort is a poignant experience. He wastes no time in deftly establishing the atmosphere: ice-cold glasses set against sweaty brows in the blistering heat, with frequent power outages that leave Cooper lying on the bed as he waits for the ceiling fan to come back to life. Characters are enhanced by their association with Cooper’s past: His need to save Lulay recalls his kid sister being tormented by their father, while his wariness of forming affection for Sadiq echoes a horribly failed relationship in the Army. At its best, the book is slightly refitted yet indomitable noir: the protagonist knocked out cold and tossed in jail; Lulay’s constant pleading for help like a vulnerable dame “hiring” Cooper; and the mysterious Sadiq calling to mind a femme—or homme—fatale. The novel, a quick read at a little over 200 pages, is rounded out by sharp, cynical dialogue: “Where’s this?” Cooper asks, pointing to a postcard; “Somewhere else,” he’s told.