Perry Cockerell's Private War
By Carin Chea
Having a "full schedule" is an understatement when it comes to attorney, publishing house founder, and prolific author Perry Cockerell.
Cockerell, whose three professions are fully thriving and flourishing, talks about successfully managing his careers and his 'A Private War' book series.
Though a lawyer by training, Cockerell is a seasoned writer, having had to utilize expert writing skills throughout his life in all his professions.
You're an attorney by trade. How did the transition into writing happen?
I've always loved writing. I wrote on the newspaper staff in college for 3 years, but the school didn't have a journalism degree. I went to law school after that, which requires you really know how to write. I've practiced 38 years as a lawyer.
I'm also a retired navy and intelligence officer. That required an immense amount of research and writing. I was giving briefs all the time. They're very similar, being an intelligence officer and an attorney.
What's new, though, is that I wasn't a fiction writer until I did this. This was a stretch because character development requires you to make things up and put things together. The other type of writing required me to research based on facts.
How has your career in law and the navy influenced your career as an author?
I wouldn't even had even written these books if I wasn't an officer. I served in Bagdad. The military background interests me and that's where the inspiration for the book came from.
Where do you draw your inspiration from as a writer?
I do a lot of other writing. I write a monthly judicial profile on sitting judges. It requires me to find out about the judge and their background. I've done more than 50 profiles.
It becomes a formula, so to speak: I learn their background and write an article about them. That's what I developed in writing this book.
I had to develop this character, Oliver Stewart ("Ollie"), an African-American journalist. This book is a fictionalized version of him.
Tell us about A Private War. Was this your first novel?
Yes, and it came out in 2016. The second one, [A Private War II] a sequel, came out in 2017. The 3rd book is Tatiana's War, and she's the lead character.
The [first] book is about the fictionalized life of Ollie Stewart. I used the book to cover the contributions of the black soldier, but I had to fictionalize the characters to create a story.
It's about a trial of two young black soldiers, one of whom one accidentally shoots the other. They [the two African-American journalists] grapple over whether he's guilty or not and how to cover the trial.
A Private War II is the sequel to your first book. How would you describe this book? Did you know from the beginning that A Private War would be part of a longer series?
The second story involves the two African-American journalists inviting this young soldier to become a journalist on the newspaper. The book has a spiritual side of it because he was assisted by a nun growing up.
The third book [Tatiana's War] is really a comedy, parody, and satire of what's going on today with "the deep state."
Tatiana is investigating this nun in a Catholic church who befriended this young soldier to determine what they're all about. They read a lot of books during this "book call" and they're supposed to give reviews on these books.
Tatiana begins to dream and visualize what she reads. The visualization becomes reality. It has a lot of moving parts in the books, but the focus is that these journalists are putting on a play.
You mean the protagonists in the book literally put on a play?
Journalists put on plays each year that make fun of politicians. They play parts that make fun of politicians. Here, they're making fun of the "deep state", the overthrow of the Alabama governor. But, the play becomes reality in the book.
Tatiana reads Joan of Arc (Mark Twains' book) and believes she is Joan of Arc and believes she'll restore the Alabama governor to power. She rescues the deposed power and fights to restore him. The "deep state" is symbolic of what is going on now. Nowadays, it's called the "right" and the "left."
In the book, I call it the "vertical" and the "horizontal." Tatiana is a liberal journalist who restores the deposed governor to power. It's intended to make fun of what is happening today, but set in 1948.
Tatiana is actually suffering from PTSD from covering the war. That is something we're supposed to glean from this book.
All 3 novels are pulled together. The story continues from the first novel to the last. It's also a musical. All 3 books have music in them. Every song in the book is by Todd Rundgren.
I picked those songs and weaved them in because they're relevant to the book. The songs have significance. They all have moving parts, and all these back stories that are pieced together in the end. It has characters that are the same within all 3 books.
You also have a publishing house, Alliance Publishing, that promotes new authors. What pushed you to form Alliance?
I've had it for 4 years. I'm learning my way, and I have a current contract with a new author. I am offering a platform where I'll buy the rights to a book, and I have a website that will push that book.
It's a midway between self-publishing and Random House/Penguin, which is a traditional model. I'm trying to give another method for the author to have a real contract.
I know I can't practice law for the rest of my life, but I can write for the rest of my life.
For more information on Perry Cockerell's past, present, and future works (and to read about up-and-coming authors), please visit AlliancePublishingLLC.com
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