by Whitney Crouch
After retiring from a career in aerospace, part-time Ellijay resident Frank J. Kopet decided to add authoring novels to his list of accomplishments. Now at the age of 84, he has self-published five books.
“I’ve always been interested in writing,” he stated, noting how in his younger years he often kept manuscripts in his desk at work and wrote during his breaks.
It was not until after his retirement, however, that he decided to begin writing in earnest and made the activity a priority.
After completing a “dark and very heavy” novel called “Grey Justice,” which had a limited printing, he embarked on writing a trilogy entitled “Wait ‘Til Tomorrow,” with the first installment being released in 2008.
Centering on a driven young man named Gary Norton who finds himself enmeshed in a web of difficulties and splintering relationships, the series examines how people search for happiness and respond to tragedies and other unexpected turns in life.
Describing his writing process and how ideas come to him, Kopet stated, “I get so absorbed in writing. The characters talk to me. I laugh with them. They’re part of me; those are my people. I love them for who they are.”
While most of the story material comes from his imagination, he has utilized some nuggets of personal memory in the novels.
“When you sit down and you’re writing, a kernel comes in … some real experiences,” Kopet noted, explaining how some small personal memories are interwoven into his stories, such as the sights and sounds of walking in New York City.
“But how (the characters) live their lives is all imagination,” he added.
When asked what makes his books stand out, Kopet emphasized, “They’re clean books. You can write a book and not have it hurt your senses. It’s one you will not be ashamed to have in your hand.”
From idea to publication
As Kopet explained, when he first became interested in writing the prevailing method of the day involved starting with extensive outlines and note cards filled with ideas before getting around to penning the actual story. This structured approach did not fit his style, so he decided to ignore convention and just started writing the story instead of first meticulously planning out every chapter.
“It was the age of computers that allowed the juices to flow,” he explained, noting how in only a few weeks he had written an 80,000-word manuscript for the first installment of “Wait ‘Til Tomorrow.”
“Seven revisions later it grew to 135,000 words,” he added. “After the first book, I knew I wanted to expand the story. The trilogy just poured out.”
Upon finishing the manuscript, Kopet faced the next hurdle in the process — publication.
“When you finish writing, you think you have this wonderful tome the world has been waiting for … I have a very nice binder full of rejections (from publishing companies),” he laughed, recalling how he was frustrated with the situation until he read an article in the Times-Courier and learned about the self-publishing route used by many authors today.
Deciding to give it a try, Kopet turned to CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company that prints books on demand when ordered by customers so authors do not have to invest in an expensive inventory.
“My favorite part (of the process) is when the book comes into your hands for the first time — that proof copy — that’s very gratifying,” he shared.
Thus far, he feels the books have been well received and spoke of copies that have been sold to individuals living as far away as England and Germany.
In addition, his newest novel, “Sarah’s Tomorrow,” the inaugural book in a young adult spin-off series of his first trilogy that was published earlier this year, made it to the second round of consideration for the annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Kopet spoke highly of the online community of writers he has become a part of through his publishing company and the web-based contest, explaining how they’ve been eager to share advice and encouragement.
“The world of writing is an interesting one,” he stated. “I’ve met a lot of nice people.”
For Kopet, writing has done more than given him a way to pass the time during retirement. It has become a passion and an outlet for maintaining a vivacious outlook on life.
“The only way you stay young is to stay active,” he observed, recalling his efforts to write one-act plays and the many trips he and his wife Marie have made to destinations such as China, Japan, Europe and Australia. “Don’t be a couch potato … I enjoy every day. Don’t let troubles hang you up. You must enjoy yourself.”
He went on to explain the best advice he can offer to people of any age who are interested in writing is found in the quote he includes at the beginning of each of his books.
Attributed to Goethe, it reads, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
“You’ve got to start,” Kopet urged. “Just starting has ‘power and magic’ in it. I’m a firm believer in that. Begin and see where it goes.”
“Don’t try to be perfect,” he added. “The best of authors has to rewrite.”
Finding a copy
Kopet’s “Wait ‘Til Tomorrow” trilogy and “Sarah’s Tomorrow” are available for purchase at Amazon.com and can be checked out from the Gilmer County Library, located at 268 Calvin Jackson Drive in Ellijay beside Mountain View Elementary.