Author Interview "Perry Cockerell"
Perry Cockerell was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a practicing attorney handling civil and appellate litigation in Texas. He is a retired Navy Reserve Commander who served on active duty during three wars during his military career. A frequent author and speaker in the legal circles, his book "A Private War" was his first novel released in 2016. The sequel,"A Private War II" was released in 2017. The final installment of the Private War trilogy, "Tatiana's War", was released in 2019.
When did you begin seriously working as a writer? I have been practicing law as a trial and appellate attorney for 37 years and during my career I have written extensively. That is serious work, of course, but it was for a different purpose and it was non-fiction. Being in the law requires one to stay with real facts. When it comes to fiction writing my serious effort began in 2014 when it took me two years to write the fiction novel, A Private War. I was not used to fiction writing and developing character and plot lines and pulling all of the stages together. It was quite a jump for me.
A Private War was your first novel. What was the inspiration for the book? In 2014 I searched my name on the internet and it came up in the Afro.com website. Being curious, I read the website and it described a story of an African American journalist named Ollie Stewart who interviewed an African American soldier named Private Perry Cockerell from Lexington, Mississippi who served during the liberation of France. I found it interesting that we had the same names. I was always drawn to France and learned that our family name of “Cockerell” comes from the French name of “Coquerel” from the Normandy area in France. I married a lady from France and have a two year old daughter who is half-French and half-American and has dual citizenship. I suppose everyone eventually finds their roots and returns home. Ollie Stewarts life as a journalist interested me so I created a Wikipedia entry for him at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ollie_Stewart. Military stories interest me, and journalism interests me. During college I served three years as a reporter on the newspaper staff but the school did not have a journalism program so I did not pursue a career that probably would have suited me well.
How would you describe it? The book involves two independent story lines that are set during the years 1930 through 1947. The book follows the life of two African American soldiers and African American war correspondents who cover the European Theater during World War II. One soldier is orphaned as a child and during the war he is accused of shooting the other in what is thought to be an accident but ends up being much more. While on trial the life of the young soldier becomes the center of a courtroom drama on full display. The African American journalists debate on how to cover the controversial case.
You served as a Navy Commander. How do you feel that experience impacted your work as a novelist? My service greatly affected me and my writing. I was an intelligence officer and was always being tapped to present something. To do that required a great deal of preparation and writing. It required examining large amounts of information and being able to pull that into a coherent product. During my career I worked at several intelligence commands and learned to write in the world of classified information with many other professionals who were quite remarkable.
You’re also a practicing attorney. It seems that number successful novelist are also attorneys. How do you think your work in the legal world helps inform your writing? I have had over the years a good appellate practice that requires a lot of effort so that a court can understand your case. You have to write in a way to get their attention. The easier you can make your brief and hook them on your case the more interested they become with your case. The same is true in writing a novel. Make it easy to read and understand and snag the reader early on so they will read your book.
A Private War II was your second novel which was then followed up with your most recent work Tatiana’s War? Do you see this series as a trilogy or will there be more books in the series? The series could go on as there are many characters in the book that could be developed. For now, I see this is as a trilogy because I do not have story lines or plots to continue on. I didn’t know there would be a sequel to the first book until the ideas came to me. Then I didn’t know there would be Tatiana’s War until ideas kept coming to me and things started falling into play. It takes a tremendous amount of time to write these novels and working full time as a practicing attorney I found myself working early mornings and weekends. But, once you jump on that train working on a novel it is hard to get off.
Tatiana's War seems to be a bit of a departure from the other two books. How would you describe it? It is science fiction parody, satire and musical and a celebration of many works of famous fiction by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, James Hilton, and James Michener. It pits the concept of the “Law of Attraction” against religious principles. The play is about the journalists in the first two novels putting on a play titled “Fake News” that is about an alleged Deep State plot to take down a fictional governor of Alabama. Alabama is taken over by the Russians. There are open borders, there is a presumption of guilt, and there is no rule of law. The journalists put on the play because they agree that the scenario in the proposed play could never exist in that time or in the future and they do not want to disparage the highly regarded federal agencies caught up in a political spy ring. When Tatiana, a liberal journalist reads the celebrated books by the famous authors and the fictitious play her thoughts become reality and the play takes over and become reality. Our thoughts and emotions if combined can move mountains. The underlying meaning of Tatiana’s War is that journalists suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome from war time coverage. A Private War II was about one of the young soldier’s experience with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
What would you like your readers to take away from your books? That you can achieve in life exactly what you put your mind and efforts into securing. You can overcome any obstacle and outlive any difficult situation. You can celebrate life and literature when you read my novels. The books have a happy ending and despite how difficult it becomes for the character; they always find a solution.
Are you currently working on any other books? I have several more in the works right now, but I am still recovering from Tatiana’s War and have not pushed them much. I write a regular column for a local bar journal and I write quite a lot in my regular legal job. My days and weekends are filled to the brim. I wish I had more time to devote to them. Four years ago, I incorporated my own publishing company, Alliance Publishing LLC, to promote new authors. I have contract with a new author to promote her book. My plan is to work promoting new authors through this company. I plan to be busy the rest of my life. For more information visit: https://alliancepublishingllc.wordpress.com/
Tatiana's War - Tatiana’s War is the final installment of the Private War trilogy, exploring the hearts and minds of the journalists following their return from World War II. All of the beloved characters from the previous novels return. Andre uncovers the possible existence of the Deep State, and Betty is back directing the eccentric play, "Fake News." Tatiana learns she must go to war to end the Deep State, while she also investigates the deadly fire of Andre’s childhood home and discovers the secret of the universe. Torn from today’s headlines, Tatiana’s War reflects issues of religion, fake news, politics, media, and music. The novel concludes with an explosive ending where dreams and reality finally merge.
Other available titles - A Private War, A Private War II