An Interview with Author Jeffrey Perren

I really enjoyed Clonmac's Bridge by Jeffrey Perren which I finished reading a few days ago. I haven't had an author interview on Indie Bookworm for many months so was delighted when Jeff agreed to take some time out of his busy writing schedule to answer some questions.

Why did you write Clonmac's Bridge?

I happened on a news story of the discovery of the real 9th century bridge at Clonmacnoise Monastery — Ireland’s oldest major span, long since sunken into the Shannon River. I was fascinated by the fact that large parts of it were intact, despite being made of wood. I wove that into an archaeological mystery, and included elements of romance and business drama. I wanted to highlight the conflicts among academics and corporation executives, as well as pay tribute to scientific heroes.

What kind of reader would enjoy Clonmac's Bridge?

I flatter myself that would include anyone who likes a good dramatic story, well written with admirable heroes and despicable villains. More particularly, it would appeal to lovers of mystery, archaeology, and / or romantic drama.

How did you develop your characters?

Though the story is based on real events, none of the characters remotely resemble the real scientists. They’re based on my personal experiences in life, along with a large dose of wishful thinking. They're the kind of people I've met in life — or would like to.

Why did you decide to publish Clonmac's Bridge yourself?

I gave up on traditional publishing years ago out of necessity. Or, more accurately, they gave up on me without even trying. After four novel submissions to literally hundreds of agents, it became pointless to continue along that route. No one was interested.

Happily, things have changed so much in publishing that, unless you’re Ken Follett and get huge advances with large advertising campaigns, there are no advantages to using a mainstream publisher anymore.

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

Yes, I’m writing a romantic suspense story set (chiefly) at a New England lighthouse. It promises to be a dark, almost Gothic romance but with large elements of mystery. It's quite unlike anything I've tried before. Damnably difficult but very engaging.

After that I may finish the re-telling of the William Tell story I’ve developed about his years before and after the famous apple shooting incident. Then, it’s on to the Age of Discovery trilogy — starting when Portuguese ships first rounded Africa and opened the seagoing spice route to India. I’ve been researching it for a few years.

Thanks so much Jeffrey for these fascinating insights into your writing world. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. 

I also enjoyed reading Jeff's historical novel Cossacks in Paris and am looking forward to reading his mystery Death is Overrated and the new books when they are published.

There's more information about author Jeffrey Perren and all his books on his Amazon author page.

Aphrodite's Curse by Luciana Cavallaro

I've enjoyed reading Luciana Cavallaro's interesting and informative Blog for several months. It's packed full of antiquities and gives fascinating insights into the Ancient World. I've re-discovered many old stories first heard during school days and learned some new ones as well.

Aphrodite's Curse is part of a series of short stories about renowned women from Ancient Greek History. It's told in the first person from the point of view of Phaedra who is on her deathbed.

Phaedra describes and explains her own life and digresses into several other stories too.

The book is a well written, readable and very engaging re-telling of the story. I liked the friendly, down to earth voice of the narrator who makes no attempt to disguise the harsh realities of Greek life in that era.

The other women chosen for the series are: Helen of Troy; Hera Queen of the Gods; Pandora; and Medousa. You can download each title separately or buy the boxed set Accursed Women.

I enjoyed reading Aphrodite's Curse so much I downloaded Accursed Women which I'll be reading as soon as time allows. Watch this space!

Click here for details of all the books in the series on the author's website or here for her Amazon author page.

Head in the Clouds by Christopher Jarman

I downloaded this book because I thought it was going to be reminiscences about the Fleet Air Arm in the post WWII era which it was but it was so much more as well. After a detailed and fascinating account of the author’s service in the Fleet Air Arm, it recounts his subsequent career in the British state education system.

Author Christopher Jarman, who is approaching his eightieth birthday by my calculation, has had an amazingly rich and seemingly fulfilling life. He was educated on a scholarship at a public school as part of a social experiment in egalitarianism. He wanted to be a pilot but became an observer and officer in the Fleet Air Arm travelling the world in the process. He became inspired by the thought of teaching primary age children and after teacher training had an inspirational career as a class teacher, head teacher, local authority adviser and college lecturer. He developed his artistic talents and became an expert in calligraphy and handwriting which he taught to the children in his schools and to countless serving teachers. He was a writer, journalist and broadcaster, husband and father, yachtsman and late in life a qualified pilot. And last but not least, and most significant as far as I am concerned, he was the designer and instigator of a range of classroom equipment produced by the House of Osmiroid that were the “must-have” items for all half-way decent primary teachers for over twenty years.

The book is slightly dated in places and reflects some of the attitudes towards women that were prevalent in the sixties and seventies but not in any way intended to offend. It has a refreshing honesty at times and is also laugh aloud funny. The book is well written although it would have benefitted from a more rigorous typo-checking; it draws on some of the writer’s published pieces as well as his memories, anecdotes and sometimes rather barbed comments about more recent developments in British primary education.

I highlighted some of Mr Jarman’s observations on education on my Kindle; they should be required reading for all politicians who have conspired to ruin a state primary education system that was once the envy of the world. I hope he won’t mind if I quote them here:

“I was discovering that the secret of learning is motivation. Children will learn by rote things that they do not understand, but they learn much better and more permanently when they are keen and interested…….. I wanted to be famous for high standards; and you don’t achieve that by mere rote learning; there has to be involvement.”

“Looking back…… not only do children thrive on praise and encouragement but so do the teachers.”

“now, 25 years later our worst nightmares have come true. The National Curriculum and the demands of Ofsted seem to have locked primary teaching into the very state that we found in the worst of American practice in the 1970s.”

If you only want to read about the naval service aspect of the book you might decide to leave it when the author returns to civvy street; I would suggest you stick with it: an entertaining, thought provoking and informative read throughout; well worth the £0.77p I paid for it.

Further details about the book are on the author's Amazon Author page here.

Clonmac's Bridge by Jeffrey Perren

Several months ago I enjoyed reading Cossacks in Paris by Jeffrey Perren and particularly liked his approach to using historical facts to help tell a good story. This style is repeated effectively in Clonmac's Bridge in the historical part of the story: a sort of Monk's Tale.

However, Clonmac's Bridge is only partially historical fiction. It has a multi-faceted plot which centres on T.V. Archaeologist, Griffin Clonmac, who has an overwhelming desire to find and raise the mythical and mysterious ninth century Bridge at Clonmacnoise.

There is a good sense of place in the novel and the reader is transported from one location to another as easily as the characters move around the globe. The story moves between Ireland, the U.S.A and South America with the ease of taking a tube ride from Green Park to Westminster. Indeed, the plot pops over to London from time to time as well.

The novel explores a variety of relationships between several of the main characters and in addition there are corporate jealousies, academic rivalries and political ambitions.

On the whole the main characters are a set of selfish, self-centred people who are motivated by pride, greed, lust and self-interest. Even the two main protagonists, Griffin Clonmac and Mari Quispe, the romantic leads, struggle at times to put their feelings for each other before their desires to be in control.

The relationship between Mari and her father, Casimiro Quispe, a Peruvian politico-gangster-fixer, provides the link in the novel between the present and the past. Mari is an ambitious feminist who struggles constantly against her father's mediaeval intentions that she should be docile, have an arranged marriage and provide an heir for the family dynasty.

The historical part of the novel could almost stand-alone but it provides a satisfying explanation for the mysteries of The Bridge which is held back until the end of the novel thus creating a strong finale for the book.

The parallels between the power-play of the mediaeval monastic world and that of contemporary academia is an interesting feature of the novel. And, in the modern world, the role of corporate sponsorship provides one of several intriguing sub-plots.

I enjoyed reading Clonmac's Bridge and once again admired author Jeffrey Perren's ability to get the reader to suspend disbelief and travel with him across continents and back through centuries in pursuit of a good yarn.

You can find out more about author Jeffrey Perren and get details of Clonmac's Bridge on his Amazon Author page here for U.S.A and here for U.K.