Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
January 6, 2009
LaPerle's `Notes for Elijah'
Sterling man's novel one of mysterious journey
Author: Ken Cleveland
STERLING - "Unthinkable loss" and "unexplainable connections" are the key to "Notes for Elijah," according to Roger LaPerle.
The novel, a first effort and self-published work by the Sterling resident, focuses on several characters and brings the writer's experiences and even a local landmark into the tale.
"Several characters in this emotional story are dealing with loss, each of a different nature, but it's Jaycee Turner that changes her life completely in a desperate attempt to cope," LaPerle said. "Elijah brings about one of the `unexplainable connections', and eventually becomes the puzzle that the key characters and the reader will need to put together."
Barnes and Noble, whose online store offers the new book, offers a short description: "An unthinkable loss leads Jaycee Turner to a desperate attempt at a new life, thousands of miles from family and friends. Elijah drifts into the story with unexplainable connections to Jaycee's past, on a mysterious journey of his own. In the end, the reader will undoubtedly find that Elijah is a puzzle well worth putting together."
Like any writer, the passion for stories and the written word came early. LaPerle put much of his writing skills into corporate writing during his career, but always retained a love of writing.
"I have had a passion for writing since my early teens. I remember filling notebooks with poetry or songs during the early `60s," LaPerle said. "Many years later, I co-wrote a series of children's stories with a very creative, lifelong friend, and between this experience and a writing class at the Worcester Art Museum around the same time, the desire to write was re-ignited."
LaPerle has several local connections in his book.
"Jaycee is from Worcester, actually, and graduated from Classical High, which closed in 1966 when Doherty opened. It was one of three Worcester high schools I attended.
"There is also a more `local' reference to Clinton's own Lou's Diner, and the `two Tommys' who work there, but I had to move this establishment to the Midwest in this story," LaPerle said.
Like any good story, it has ties to real life experiences.
"The inspiration for this story came from a 9-year-old boy who I had the privilege of knowing through a `visiting advocate' program when my wife worked at the Perkins School in Lancaster. Much of my experience with this boy becomes the background for Jack Taylor," he said.
That personal experience helped form the character, including "my conversations with Robbie Williamson, and the profound sadness I felt for what he had been through in his young life."
Although individual characters may not be based on real people, some of the author often creeps in.
"Jaycee and Elijah are not built on characters I have known, though I would have to say there is some of me in Elijah. Only Jack was built on a real character," he said.
LaPerle was born and grew up in Worcester, returning to the area to settle in Sterling.
"I met my wife while a senior at South High," LaPerle said. "I moved away for about eight years, first with the military, then corporate transfers, but always felt that I needed to be back in New England. We came back and settled in Sterling about 30 years ago."
In that time, he never wrote a novel, but once he started, he quickly finished "Notes for Elijah."
"This is my first `full-length' book. I wrote a couple of children's stories. This project took about six months," he said.
"Notes to Elijah" is a self-published book through IUniverse, and it reflects a growing trend that allows writers to get their work out. It is sometimes then picked up by larger publishers or can continue to sell as a self-published work.
"Self-publishing was a very interesting experience, and I am fascinated about the technology, and the ease of having someone professionally format and print a book from a manuscript. I'm sure I would go this route again, though I have learned that there is even more help available, such as marketing assistance, that I may opt for the next time," he said.
Self-publishing does mean a lower profile, and that can mean lower sales.
"Sales have been better than expected actually, and it has only been out for a month." LaPerle said about the launch of "Notes for Elijah."
The book is now available off the shelf at The Paper Store in Clinton, "a store I have frequented for 30 years," LaPerle said, and through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online.
"I approached the Paper Store about the possibility of bringing it in, and Denise Aucoin there was kind enough to submit the book to a central buyer, who apparently decided it was worth a try. I am hoping that there will be enough demand to justify an afternoon where I can go there at some point and sign the ones that have been sold," he said.
Aucoin of the Paper Store on High Street, where "Notes on Elijah" is offered, had referred the publication to management to offer in the store.
"We do a lot of local authors on consignment. We pay as they're sold," Aucoin said, which allows the store to support local authors who are not published by major publishers.
Storytelling is not new to LaPerle.
"I was always the storyteller for my daughters. It was always a `spur of the moment' bedtime story of giants, or aliens or a family of coyotes, but my family wasn't really aware of the novel project until it was completed. They are all obviously very excited about it, and very supportive," LaPerle said.
And readers have been positive.
"Feedback from friends and family has been extremely positive. I've also been hearing back from some `outside' the friends circle, and thus far all feedback has been very encouraging," LaPerle said.
"The most touching review I received is from a retired gentleman in Germany. He was very moved by the story, and sent me a very encouraging e-mail."
Those who enjoy the book have something to look forward to: LaPerle is already at work on a prequel.
CUTLINE: (1) Roger LaPerle at Lou's Diner in Clinton, a landmark that figures into his story, although he relocated it to the midwest, where the story takes place (2) Roger LaPerle's "Notes for Elijah" joins other books by Clnton-area authors displayed at The Paper Store on High Street.
PHOTOG: Item photos/KEN CLEVELAND
PHOTOS (1) Roger LaPerle at Lou's Diner in Clinton, a landmark that figures
into his story, although he relocated it to the midwest, where the story takes
place (2) Roger LaPerle's "Notes for Elijah" joins other books by Clnton-area
authors displayed at The Paper Store on High Street. Item photos/KEN CLEVELAND
Record Number: 0901065597