All stories start from some spark of inspiration. Sometimes this flash is so fast, we don’t quite grasp it and have to spend time searching and cultivating to understand it better. Others, it’s a beam of light that we see so clearly, it’s just a matter of making the time to build around it. For The Investment Club, it was definitely the latter.
I had been visiting Vegas on a fairly regular basis in my late twenties to early thirties. During one of those trips, I looked around at the extravagance and opulence and suddenly saw past it. I wondered, what about the people who live here? What brought them here? What keeps them here? What is it like to live day-in-and-day-out in this community that hosts over 40 million visitors every year?
And so the idea was born. I actually had the tagline that we still use today right away before I ever wrote a single word: Five broken people meet at a blackjack table in Vegas and discover the greatest return comes from investing in one another.
At that time I had been part of an investment club and had read one of the books by The Beardstown Ladies Investment Club. With the main theme of the book being a juxtaposition of investing and gambling from a financial and personal sense, I thought The Investment Club was the perfect title. It sounds like a financial book, but it’s supposed to connote that. Just like how each chapter begins with the date and Dow Jones open and ends with the Dow Jones close, I wanted to reinforce this financial theme of investing because so much of our world is obsessed with money and what we have when what we do for each other is what really matters. The Dow Jones flow from chapter to chapter also creates this rising and falling feeling and mirrors the action in the book and in our lives: there are good days and bad days, but what’s most important is the trend is rising in the proper direction over time.
So I had the concept, tagline, and title and had them tucked away for about ten years. I had been working on my first novel Outside In and trying unsuccessfully to get it published. During this stretch, I was working for a global logistics company that had moved me from Detroit to New York then to Oslo, Norway for a variety of jobs. After my five years in Oslo, which offered me the opportunity to travel to over 25+ countries and really study more human nature rather than just American culture, I had job offers to move further east to China and Thailand, but I decided it was time to come back to the US and get my first novel published.
I wasn’t sure where I was moving back to, but I knew I was going to make a go of running my own consulting firm, which would allow me the freedom to live anywhere. I decided it might be time to write The Investment Club, so I booked a trip to Vegas to do some research. Like most major decisions in life, once I got off the plane, Vegas immediately chose me rather than me choosing it.
The vibe downtown with Zappos Tony’s Hsieh’s The Downtown Project and growth of the arts district really embodied the personal side of the investing I wanted to capture. The El Cortez, the oldest operating casino in Vegas, set by itself downtown East of all the other Fremont Street properties, along with its rich history, was the perfect place to set the blackjack action.
After that weekend, I initiated and executed the move to Vegas to do the research while I got my first novel published. Three years later, after playing hours and hours of blackjack, visiting more strip clubs than I care to admit, volunteering for the American Cancer Society to drive patients to appointments, and walking and riding my bicycle down every downtown street, I created the characters and chose the locations for the story. From there, it was just a matter of letting these five characters run loose and see where they took me. It was quite a journey. One I loved every step of the way, and I hope you do too.
About the Author
Doug Cooper is the author of the award-winning novel Outside In and The Investment Club available October 2016. He has a BS in Mathematics Education from Miami University and a MA in American Studies from Saint Louis University. Always searching, he has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, he has also called Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, and Oslo, Norway home. He now lives in Cleveland working on his third novel Focus Lost.
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About the Book:
Forty million people visit Vegas every year but most never get past the strip. What about the people who live there? What brought them there? What keeps them there?
Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.
As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.
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