Saturday, December 21, 2013

Death Is Overrated by Jeffrey Perren: Interview and Excerpt

Tell us about your current release. 

My most recent publication is a mystery set in the UK called “Death Is Overrated.” 

Its genesis had several influences but one of the chief ones was an old film called DOA. The protagonist is poisoned and has 48 hours before dying to discover who gave him the fatal dose. (Yes, implausible that it should be so slow-acting, but that’s Hollywood!) 

I spun that idea into a scientist on a caving vacation who is accused – through mistaken identity – of killing himself. He has to prove he’s neither the victim nor the murderer. That combined with my insatiable travel bug led to the characters and plot of this romantic mystery.


Tell us about your next release. 

I have a third novel in the final editing stages: “Clonmac’s Bridge.” 

It’s a blend of history and mystery based on a real-life discovery. 

“A maritime archaeologist raises a medieval monastery span from the mud of the River Shannon, sunken for 1200 years... and finds it perfectly preserved. 

What could account for this astounding longevity? And why are his colleagues, the Irish government, the media, and the Church conspiring to prevent him learning the secret? 

Griffin Clonmac will go through hell to find out.” 

It should be published in a few months.


Entice us, what future projects are you considering? 

Next up, I have a 19th century medical drama of a young Irish woman who emigrates to America to become a physician, something very difficult to do at the time. 

I also have a trilogy planned which is set in the Age of Discovery – that period when seafaring European explorers were just learning how to navigate to India, South America, and elsewhere. It will cover first the Venetians, then the Portuguese, and finally the Dutch — all through the adventures of the distaff half of three generations of merchants. 

And I have a half-dozen others already written that need some editing work before being released — a mixture of mysteries, dramatic love stories, and others. 

I plan to put out a new novel about every six months for at least the next 10 years. By then I’ll no doubt have other stories on tap.


What is the hardest part of writing your books? 

Devising an engaging plot from scratch, from a blank sheet of paper, so to speak. 

I struggle mightily with that — to keep the story interesting in every scene, to build a progression of greater and greater obstacles that are, nonetheless, still plausible-seeming to the reader. 

It helps to start with characters that one finds interesting. Still, letting them be the drivers through events that keep the reader engaged from the first page to last is a tremendous challenge. Tremendous, but very satisfying when done well. 

One always hopes, of course, that the readers find the journey equally interesting.


What book are you reading now? 

That’s a tougher question than it might sound at first blush. Like most writers, I’m a voracious reader and I’ve always got a half-dozen things in progress with bookmarks placed at various points. 

I’ve been reading Thomas Madden’s Venice (a straight history). I’m also plowing through a lot of Delderfield still, having recently finished his Swann saga. The first volume of “A Horseman Riding By” is next on the list. 

Sadly, I limit my pleasure reading these days. Most of my non-writing time is focused on research for my future novels. That runs the gamut from the relations between 14th-century Venice and the Levantine to 16th century Portuguese sailing technology to late 19th century medical practices.


Why should we read your book? 

I’ll let a reviewer speak for me:“Death is Overrated is a great blend of suspense, tension, action, villainy, and excitement. A modern day crime thriller with the heroic characters and daring escapades of a 1940's Hollywood film.”

"Professor Thomas Payne didn't intend to wind up dead on his vacation to UK, and in truth he wasn't the victim. But proving his identity to the police becomes tricky after they pull his passport off the body and conclude the deceased is Dr. Payne, no doubt.

Things go from bogus to baffling when a mysterious phone call at the crime scene leads to the arrest of the young scientist. His fate seems sealed when the victim's fingerprints match the professor's work visa and his employment records disappear altogether.

Taking time to solve it from jail will threaten his deadline to file a patent worth millions. Intervention by the smitten police captain's artist daughter frees Thomas to search for clues to prove his innocence. So, it's off around the UK with Terri, one jump ahead of the authorities — and his estranged sociopathic father, a lapsed Quaker who may be the real killer.

Thomas' journey soon becomes as much about a great adventure healing his troubled past, along the way, he'll battle betrayals by his envious staff, and suffer harrowing misadventures at historic sites in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Travel — even to find yourself — was never so perilous."

Goodreads photo AddtoGoodreads.jpg


“She opened her eyes again and searched discreetly for the man who had invited Thomas to the island.

She was determined to appear casual, to keep her observer off guard. But the strain of waiting was taking its toll. With every muscle taut, she was beginning to tire. Relax, girl, just relax, she told herself. He’ll get here. And his face will tell you somehow whether he’s the one who put Thomas in the path of the police by false implication.

She was glad now she’d stopped at a shop in Glasgow to pick up a change of clothing. The bikini top and shorts suited her purpose much better than her business suit. She flicked a look at the lowering sun and hoped she would still be glad in a little while. The weather in the Hebrides could change from bright to stormy on a whim.

She tipped her head back and slowly moved her face from one shoulder to the other, like a delphinium following the sun. But she took no pleasure in it this time. It was a feint so she could look around again without seeming obvious. She was sure she would recognize the man who sent the email, though she could not have explained why. She saw no one nearby.

Even during the summer, in late evening there were but a dozen people on the island that held Fingal’s Cave. This day, two were sunning themselves, but far from her. Most of the rest were clambering over the rocks, leaving the cave, trying to avoid slipping off the basalt columns and into the sea. A couple were already waiting at the shore. There was less ten minutes before the last boat left.

Terri debated whether she should check inside the cave. If she stayed where she was much longer she’d miss the boat and camping on Staffa overnight could be suicide. She looked at the dark clouds in the distance and judged that trouble was on the way. Then she measured again how low the sun was. She’d give him another few minutes to show.

When he didn’t, she looked at the boat anxiously, checking her phone’s clock for the fourth time. To avoid being reported by the tour boat captain she watched from behind a boulder as the boat left, then ambled back to her previous spot and lay down.

Unseen, a man lying on his stomach watched her from the flat, tan bluff atop Fingal’s Cave.”

Jeffrey Perren was born in Independence, MO right around the corner from Harry Truman's house. But, then, at the time everything there was right around the corner from Harry Truman's house. Right now he lives in Sandpoint, Idaho with his wife. With her he shares a love for Golden Retrievers and maintains a healthy friendship with a neighborhood Belgian Shepherd. 
He is a freelance writer, educated in philosophy at UCLA and in physics at UC Irvine. The lure of writing soon outweighed science, though. His work has appeared on dozens of websites around the world, covering subjects as diverse as travel to London and the latest innovations in currency exchange.  
He has had short stories published at the award-winning sites Apollo's Lyre and Mystericale.
His first and final love remains writing fiction. His debut novel is Cossacks In Paris, an historical adventure set in Napoleonic Europe.

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