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Just Past Oysterville
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  This one is destined to stand out in the literary world!

Title: Just Past Oysterville

Author: Perry Phillip Perkins

ISBN: 1413709141

Publisher: Publish America; (February 2004)

Genre: Fiction

Paperback: 245pp

Price: $19.95


Rating: Highly Recommended!


May 25, 2004


I had the pleasure of reading Just Past Oysterville, a remarkable book penned by a new author named Perry Perkins. When the book arrived I was impressed with the cover first - that's simply something that I do to set the tone for my reading material. The cover bears the image of a set of bright headlights piercing through the darkness traveling a long road superimposed over a faint road map. I opened the cover and read the dedications and acknowledgements and I could determine at that point in time that this would be a good read.


Cassie Belanger lost both of her parents and considered herself an orphan. She barely knew her father, being that he "abandoned" her and her mother decades ago. Her mother, with the help of her community and her church, raised her to adulthood instilling values and morals that Cassie embraced. In the blink of an eye, Cassie's mom was gone killed by a drunk driver as she returned from work one evening. Cassie's world crashed down around her and she determined that the only way to find closure was to seek out her birth father who deserted her so many years before.


Cassie's desire was to somehow make him feel the pain, anguish and rejection that enveloped her broken spirit. Cassie wanted revenge. She utilizes clues from her mother's possessions to ascertain her fathers location and she begins a journey that would change her life. She meets Jack, a loner in search of peace, weighed down by burdens that drive him to the bottle in search of an escape. The two embark on a journey to a town "just past Oysterville" and form a bond with one another along the way. The two are so alike, but why?


Just Past Oysterville was an excellent read.  Mr. Perkins utilizes simple yet colorful dialogue that will entrance you.  He pays attention to detail, quotes appropriate bible verses at appropriate moments and he will take you on an amazing journey. A journey through pain, loss, happiness and closure. This is called Shoalwater Book one, and it would be an honor to review the continuation of this series. Just when you think that you have this story figured out, Mr. Perkins will gently push you one step further and open your eyes to the possibilities that make up your destiny.


Simply stated, I LOVED THIS BOOK!    


Reviewed by Tyrone Banks



An Interview with Perry Perkins



To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


When a drunk driver leaves eighteen-year-old Cassie Belanger an orphan, a cryptic letter, found among her mother's belongings, sends her on a journey across the country in hopes of finding the man who fathered her but chose not to be her father.


Driven by her anger, her bitterness and her desire to confront the man who abandoned her, Cassie meets Jack, a crusty old bachelor headed in the same direction. In his face, Cassie begins to see what can happen to a heart that refuses to forgive.


On the trip west, Cassie struggles with whether she wants to forgive her father, or turn away from him and remain an orphan.



Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?


I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and my earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. Walt Morey and the Anne of Green Gables books were our favorites. I can't remember my mother ever not having a book with her, and I grew up to adopt her deep, passionate love for fiction.



Who were your earliest influences and why?


Again, Walt Morey was an early favorite, Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, and Wilson Rawls (Where the Red Fern Grows was my favorite childhood book). I think the common thread among these authors was their ability to create an escape for the reader, a door to another world that they created so completely.


As the only child of a single, disabled mother, and growing up in the welfare district on the outskirts or Portland, anything that allowed an escape, whether it be a trip to the Ozarks of northeastern Oklahoma or the confines of Willy Wonka's great glass elevator, was a welcome friend.


What would a typical day be like for a writer?


Well, this would assume that there is such a thing as a "typical writer" and if there were, that I would fall into that category! (Grin) For me, I like to sleep late, take a mile-long walk to the post office (I love my small town) then back home for breakfast and answering my emails.


An hour with whatever novel I'm reading at the time and then, once the batteries are charged, I'll try to get in some time on my current project, up to six hours or thirty pages, whichever comes first.


Check and answer emails again, spend an hour or more doing research for tomorrow's writing and then start cooking dinner for the family. Throw in grocery trips, book signings, and the occasional trip to the theatre for a romantic comedy, and that's my day!



How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


My first written work was a poem titled "Thank you Oregon". I was languishing in the fourth grade and had sluffed off, once again, on my homework. The assignment was to write something commemorating the 100th birthday of my home state, and we were given a week to complete it. The poem, my first, was written in about fifteen minutes, the night after the assignment was actually due. My motivation was the hope of averting another parent teacher conference. It ended up in the Oregonian newspaper.


I learned two valuable lessons with that poem. The first was that passion and integrity place a far second, in importance, to actually getting something, anything, on the page. The second being that Tuscumbia (Alaska) doesn't rhyme with Columbia (the river).


Be warned, a poem that was heralded as greatness in the fourth grade can be the epitome of embarrassment when you're asked to stand, at age thirty, in a gym full of elementary students and their parents, and are dutifully applauded for the horrific rendition of your cheesy verses, by the current class of fourth graders.


Since then I have written fishing stories for numerous outdoor sports magazines, dabbled with poetry, short-stories, and novellas and spent the last three years researching my Shoalwater Trilogy and writing Book One.



Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?


It really depends on where my heads at, at the moment. If I've been reading a good piece of fiction and my imagination is primed, then good storyline and dialog can flow easily. If not, it can be hard to picture the scene in my head and I might switch over to some facts and figures in a non-fiction article, until I have a chance to get back into a fiction mood.



Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


Oh, maybe once a week or so! Writing can be a lonely job and it's easy to let discouragement and self-doubt overshadow your love for what youre doing. This is an ongoing battle at my desk and I fight it by collecting all of my good reviews, my best reader's comments from my message board, and encouraging letters from friends and family. These go into a notebook that I keep on my desk.


I flip through this and take a look at what friends and strangers have had to say about my work. This notebook is, of course, secondary to having the worlds greatest wife (and self-appointed "fan club" president) at my side.



What is the hardest part about being a writer?


For me, it's procrastination. I'm a firm believer in the motto "Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid indefinitely!" With no boss, timecard, or yearly review, it's easy to get distracted by a sunny day or a great old movie and the "POW" it's six o'clock, time to start dinner and I'm still on "The night was*"


Staying focused and on track despite my lack of a "real job" is my biggest challenge.


*With apologies to Billy Crystal


Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?


I love to fly-fish, hike, camp, hunt, anything in the outdoors. A day in the woods helps me remember the sights, sounds and smells of the real world. And then to reproduce those in the worlds I create at the keyboard.



Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


I have to sacrifice the "right now" a hundred times a day. Right now I would rather walk down to the park with my dog. Right now I would rather watch "The Odd Couple", right now I want to dump this storyline and start a new, more exciting project.


I sacrifice all of the "right nows" so that "someday" I can achieve the goals and dreams Ive had since childhood. And you know what? Its starting to happen!



What question do you get asked more than any other?


"Sowhen is the next book coming out?" AAARRRGGGHHH! (and the writer falls, twitching, to the floor). Actually I try to appear clever and say things like, "Much like the book itself, the release date is a mystery!" It doesn't work.



Whats the coolest thing a reader has said to you?


I once had a reader send me an email that started, "I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship..." Anytime someone quotes Casablanca regarding my work, that's a good day!



What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?


I've been amazed and overjoyed at the responses I've gotten. Readers and reviewers have been saying beautiful, wonderful things about "Just Past Oysterville" and have compared my writing to great writers whom I've admired for years. What a rush!



Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?


Absolutely. I carry a small notebook in my pocket everywhere I go. I jot down notes, description and dialog whenever something grabs me, which is fairly often. I think that people want to read about people they can relate to. I try to find those people in the real world and then repaint them into my characters.



Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?


Stephen King, Frank Peretti, Ernest Hemmingway, David Eddings, David James Duncan, and Jan Karon.



If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


Read. Read everything you can find within the genre that you want to pursue. Stand on the shoulders of giants. Remember, this is homework as much as pleasure, so keep a notebook. What gave you goose-bumps, what brought tears to your eyes, what made you "skip to the good part?"


Grammar, editing, publishing, promoting and marketing. There are innumerable websites and resources available on all of these. Nothing, however, can teach you what "good writing" is, except immersing yourself in the words.



What kind of movies do you enjoy?


Wow, I'm all over the board. With the exception of slasher films, I like it all. Favorite movies are The Odd Couple, Star Wars, A River Runs Through It, The Godfather (1&2), and Throw Mama from the Train (The night was moist)



What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldnt want to live in?


Oysterville, Washington (where else?) The only reason I wouldn't want to live there is I'm afraid it would lose the magic. I'd wake up one day, walk down the street and it wouldn't be 1860 in the biggest boomtown west of San Francisco.



Whats the strangest question youve ever been asked in an interview?


As strange as it sounds, it's one I'm asked in almost EVERY interview (kudos to you for not asking it) its"Where do you get your ideas?"


I have no idea. I would be willing to bet my fuzzy dice collection that no other fiction writer really knows either. It's like there's this weird second brain in my head that sleeps most of the time and every once in a while it wakes up, leaps from the bed and yells, "Hey, what if" and then refuses to go back to sleep until I have an answer.



Whats the best part of being a writer?


People stop asking you when you're going to grow up. Those closest to you come to realize it's never going to happen, and everyone else smiles and nods and whisper, "It's a writing thing" to one another. It's great!



What's next?


Immediate plans are to continue marketing "Just Past Oysterville: Shoalwater Book One" finish "Shoalwater Voices" (book two), and self-publish my first e-book, a novella titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel." Each of these can be found on my website at http://www.perryperkinsbooks.com



Betsie's Literary Page thanks Mr. Perkin's for his time and certainly wishes him all the best with his current and all future projects.