By Linda Le Park
Elk Grove CitizenPublished:
“When I was a kid growing up in Pacifica, I spent a lot of time in the hills and at the beach,” said Cochran. “My friends and I would play for hours on the gun emplacement that used to be on Milagra. We climbed the hills, built forts and had races on cardboard boxes. We also spent a lot of time at the beach climbing the cliffs. We would ride our bikes to the old hamburger drive-in, where Viva Italiano currently is. As teens we used to go to the Seavue Theater, Manor Room Pizza, the ice-cream parlor in Linda Mar and the old A&W in Linda Mar. My family used to love going to Nicks, the Golden Coach, Muffin Mine and Romano’s.”
Cochran remembers when Florey’s Books first went into business. “I was still in high school,” said Cochran. “It was in a big building that used to be an auto parts store. I remember being really happy to have a local book store so I didn’t have to go to Serramonte.”
Cochran laments the loss of so many of his favorite spots from his youth. “Of all the places we used to go to, only Nicks is still around. The Seavue being torn down really bothered me. I understand that change is inevitable and the building had been vacant. But I would at least like to have seen the new drug store building put up a green light tower for continuity. That new building bothers me so much. I will never set foot inside. I really miss all of those places.”
Cochran and his wife Editha, who also grew up in Pacifica, moved to Elk Grove in 1989 when their son, Geoffrey was a year old. Greg, who has his B.S. in Management, found housing prices and the job market more lucrative in the Sacramento Area. Their daughter, Lindsey, is their native-born Sacramentan. But Cochran, his wife and their kids, still find plenty of reasons to visit Pacifica frequently. Certainly it was Pacifica that first put the idea of writing a book in Cochran’s mind.
“Throughout my childhood we were all warned about the riptide just off the beach,” said Cochran. “My grandmother told us we would be pulled out to sea if we stuck a toe in the surf. She was overprotective of course but my father told me stories about kids being lost in the riptide. On a trip to Pacifica in the mid nineties, I spent some time at the library spooling through newspaper images from the late thirties, when my dad was a kid. Among many other news items there were references to children disappearing off the beach. That night on television, the news reported a child abduction. These things all set my mind in motion and the basis of a story started to form. What if some of those children had been the victims of a pedophile in the late 30s and he used the riptide as a means of disposing of his victims. Wonder if I set the story in 1938? So what came out, while not a mystery, has all these elements of thriller, action and romance with the sleepy, quiet farm town that Pacifica was back then pulling in the history aspect.”
“Pacifica 1938 would have been a familiar yet foreign place to me – just as my Pacifica of the 1960s would be foreign yet familiar to a 2008 Pacifica resident,” added Cochran.
“Saving Grace” which also carries a Christian theme throughout the story is written mainly to be entertaining. Cochran said it is not in any way a theological work.
“As humans, we are tested with choices of right and wrong. Every day, we fail that test and most of the time those tests are little things. The main character in this story, Jake, experiences big tests, the kind that affect people’s souls; including his own. Like everyone he is offered two paths and the correct path is more difficult and so he must choose.” In the beginning of the book Jake Brodie encounters an angel who sends him back to 1938 to prevent a crime.
Cochran said that the time it took to think on the book to when it hit the book stands in August was 10 years. He put his initial ideas down, worked on it off and on, sometimes setting it aside completely for a few years and then about a year ago he sat down in earnest and wrote it. He is astounded that he had contract offers from the first four publishers he sent it to and he’s very grateful.
“Like any big reader, I have always had it in mind that I could write a book, but I never put it into action,” said
Cochran who shies away from being called an author. He has also always been a history buff and for those whoknow him, it is no surprise that he joined the two hobbies and produced a book already generating volume sales. Inbetween book signings and his regular job as a pharmaceutical representative, Cochran is working on his next bookset in 1870 San Francisco.
Something else that happens in Cochran’s “Saving Grace” is the character Jake, who also grew up in Pacifica, getsto go back in time and meet family members in their youth and/or meet family members who passed away before he was born.
Going back to a quieter and slower paced time while still being present in a current mentality – and being withpeople and in places that we only wish we could have known, these are just a few of the fascinating possibilities thatwill keep you inspired by Greg Cochran’s “Saving Grace” long after you’ve finished the last page.
by Greg Cochran tells the story of Jacob Brodie, a pharmaceutical executive from Chicago, who while on a family vacation in Pacifica, California encounters an angel during a solo fishing trip. The angel reveals the existence of a mysterious task he must complete before the end of his trip. After the visit, Jacob awakes from an oceanside nap only to realize that the task has commenced with the transporting of his body back in time 60 years to Pacifica circa 1938.
by Laura Major
September 1, 2008
Saving Grace by Greg Cochran tells the story of Jacob Brodie, a pharmaceutical executive from Chicago, who while on a family vacation in Pacifica, California encounters an angel during a solo fishing trip. The angel reveals the existence of a mysterious task he must complete before the end of his trip. After the visit, Jacob awakes from an oceanside nap only to realize that the task has commenced with the transporting of his body back in time 60 years to Pacifica circa 1938.
Cochran does a great job of cleanly taking the reader back in time. Although a lot of the time is spent inside Brodie’s head while he discovers the time and location of his new surroundings, plenty of care is taken to ensure the reader experiences 1938 Pacifica as it might have been.
This is my first time travel read. I enjoyed how Brodie meets up with his great grandparents, his father as an infant and the town’s people during their prime. It was interesting to see the origins of his relatives’ personalities. Jacob’s scuffles with the younger version of his grandfather were particularly entertaining.
Guided by the angel in a land familiar but before his time, Brodie discovers his task through visions and a kinship with the town’s reverend who also experiences visits from the same angel. Reverend Hershey, a man Jacob would befriend in his own time, helps sort out the calamity that has befallen the town’s children over a period of two years. The book delivers a wallop by incorporating demon possession, salvation, and the search for life’s purpose. Particularly unexpected was the development of an interracial relationship between Jacob, a Caucasian man and Susan, a widowed mother of Chinese descent. The relationship never physically progresses beyond handholding; however, emotionally the relationship endures for Susan’s lifetime.
While the sermons grew heavy-handed at times, it was interesting to read how Jacob would complete his task and return home.
Even though Cochran introduced enough reasonable suspects to muddy the waters and keep the reader guessing, the author chose to focus on only one suspect revealed through angel-induced visions. The book’s tension could have been heightened with the power of suggesting other potential suspects, which would have made the book a longer and more in depth read.
The majority of the book was spent in 1938, so when the task was complete and Jacob returned to his own time, the picking up of his life in 1998 felt artificial. The reader is told of his behavior prior to his time travel and given examples of how it changed afterward. It would have been more powerful to witness his old behavior in action at the beginning of the book.
Cochran tightly fastens up all potential loose ends; however, it seemed like an effort to make the book longer because there were several natural end points that were not utilized. I was glad to find out what happened to Susan, her daughter and the town’s people of 1938, but Jacob’s constant self-effacement seemed self-indulgent, self-centered and self-serving.
Since the reader witnesses a strong connection between Susan and Jacob and never gets a true sense of the relationship between Jacob and his wife, Susan’s self-imposed life of spinsterhood spent serving God and craving a life with Jacob that was not meant to be was just sad.
Saving Grace, in its clean and fast-paced manner, was a nice introduction to the time-travel genre. It was an enjoyable read, which leaves me looking forward to more time-travel fare. As a result, it earns 4 out of five Sable Seals. He meets his great-grandfather, who gives him a job and a place to stay, he comes to blows with his good-for-nothing grandfather and gets to see his father as an infant. He befriends Susan and her daughter Grace, and wrestles with his attraction for her. Eventually, Jake learns that his mission is to find a local pedophile that has been kidnapping and abusing the children and then allowing their bodies to wash back to shore. With the help of Reverend Hershey-who will meet and baptize Jake in the future, the two pursue the mystery behind the missing children. While it is not a religious book, it does have religious undertones, but not enough to offend the non-religious reader. It was not overly predictable, and had an unexpected ending with a good message. I do think that this is a book worth reading. Saving Grace is published by Amira Press and can be found at the Borders in Elk Grove and on Amazon.com. For additional information visit www.gregcochran.net ***
Winter Edition, 2008
The book Saving Grace by Elk Grove resident Greg Cochran will take you on a journey with Jake Brodie as he travels to the past to unravel a mystery. Sitting alone on the beach in Pacifica, he is visited by an angel who tells him that he has been chosen to complete a task. Giving him no details, she tells him only that he will know when the time is right. To his surprise, he immediately finds himself back in 1938-same place, different time.
by Linda Le Park
Elk Grove Citizen
October 22, 2008
Ten years did not deter Greg Cochran from finishing his first novel “Saving Grace” and finally getting it published.
It all started in 1998 when he was visiting his family in South San Francisco and decided to go to the library out of boredom. One thing that Cochran enjoys is reading newspaper archives, and from that, he got the idea for his novel.
As an avid reader, he decided he would give writing a try.
“I was one of these guys who had a high reading level as a kid. I always had my nose in a book,” he said. “The more I read the more I thought I had a book in me. That weekend, it kind of clicked in me that there was a basis for a story.”
Writing a book was something that Cochran had wanted to for quite some time, but said he never had an idea for a storyline. As soon as he came up with his idea, he set to work to write his novel.
He works full time as a pharmaceutical sales representative, so wrote his book part-time, usually in the middle of the night. It was not until he was nearly complete with the book that he began dedicating much more time to finishing it.
He never had an agent, but still managed to obtain five book contracts from smaller publishers once his book was complete. His book ended up being published by Amira Press.
“I looked at some of the big publishing houses like Random House, but I am Joe nobody from nowhere. Unless you have an agent, they don’t look at you,” he said. “So I sent it to five small publishers and I got contracts from all five.”
This is a big feat for a beginner writer, but Cochran’s book has gotten great reviews both on Elk Grove Online and on Amazon.com.
He said he initially went with the first publisher that responded to him, but they wanted him to make changes he did not agree with. One of the changes was adding sex scenes, which was against his beliefs.
“That’s not me. My wife and kids are going to read it. I’ve coached high school football for 15 years and I do not want them reading it,” he said about the changes. “I don’t want my friends at church reading it, so I voided the contract and went with the next one, which is Mira.”
His book is about a man who is sent back in time to 1938 by an angel to complete a task. The character, Jake Brodie, has to figure out what his task is while on his journey.
He eventually discovers that his task is to find out why a string of children were missing and to find and stop the person kidnapping them.
The book follows his own issues and things that he has to deal with and face while on his journey.
Cochran said the story line is “loosely” based on real events.
“I went back to 1938 when my dad was born cause it was always fascinating to me, and I came across some articles about kids missing off the beach,” he said. “There were about seven kids missing off the beach in a one-year period, and it struck me as kind of odd.”
During the late 1930s, there were not many ways for people to know if a predator was in an area or if a child was abducted. Cochran compared that to the many ways of notifying the public now, such as the Amber Alert.
“Now that we have the Amber Alert, we have a better chance at catching these guys, but in 1938 we didn’t, and maybe there was a child predator who had a hand in some of the disappearances,” he said. “I just let my imagination go from there.”
Cochran has been a longtime Elk Grove resident. He sold his one bedroom condo in San Francisco in 1989 and purchased a four-bedroom home in Elk Grove and has stayed since.
He coached in the Elk Grove Junior Herd football league for 12 years and also served as vice-president for six years and as president for his last two years with the league. He left the league in 2007.
Cochran now works as the football coach for Bradshaw Christian.
He is also working on his next book, which also takes place in San Francisco.
He meets his great-grandfather, who gives him a job and a place to stay, he comes to blows with his good-for-nothing grandfather and gets to see his father as an infant. He befriends Susan and her daughter Grace, and wrestles with his attraction for her.
Eventually, Jake learns that his mission is to find a local pedophile that has been kidnapping and abusing the children and then allowing their bodies to wash back to shore. With the help of Reverend Hershey-who will meet and baptize Jake in the future, the two pursue the mystery behind the missing children.
While it is not a religious book, it does have religious undertones, but not enough to offend the non-religious reader.
It was not overly predictable, and had an unexpected ending with a good message. I do think that this is a book worth reading.
Saving Grace is published by Amira Press and can be found at the Borders in Elk Grove and on Amazon.com. For additional information visit www.gregcochran.net