Greenbank author makes waves with nautical adventure series
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
March 13, 2012 · Updated 1:16 PM
Opening the first of Jerry Mercer’s nautical adventure books means a headfirst dive into a shipwreck on the stormy seas, and the action persists with sea battles, pirates and the Revolutionary War.
With factual events, excitement and a touch of romance, the William Pope nautical adventure series delves into the Revolutionary War from the seafaring viewpoint.
“They even find some pirate treasure; I had to throw that in,” Mercer said.
The Greenbank author has already published the first four books in the series.
Mercer, 71, has been a writer for most of his life and loves nautical history books.
“I like doing research. In fact, all of my books I do a lot of, lot of research for. Most of what I’ve written is based on fact, even though it’s fiction,” Mercer said.
While his main character, William Pope, may be fictional, his adventures are based on a historically accurate portrayal of the Revolutionary War and he meets real people like Ben Franklin.
In the first book in the series, “A Choice of Freedom,” Pope’s adventures on the high seas begin when his employer asks him to fetch a printing press in New York. When a storm destroys the ship, Pope survives to become a seaman on a whaling ship. He learns firsthand about slavery during that time period --- and has to face a murderer.
In the second book, “The Rattler Strikes!,” Pope spends time on a privateer as part of the ships who took over British merchant ships and changed the outcome of the war. But when he discovers that his brother became a soldier in the Revolutionary War and was killed, Pope wants revenge, which he manages to do in a “spectacular way” in book three, “Lieutenant Pope’s Revenge.”
Pope’s decision to join the Continental Navy in book four, “The Topsail Schooner,” carries over into book five, which Mercer has nearly finished. He plans to have at least 10 books in the series.
“This series was basically for my real love of sea stories,” Mercer said, adding that he’s read many. If a reader enjoys books by Patrick O’Brian and C. S. Forester, they will enjoy Mercer’s books.
Mercer also illustrates the books himself with maps, rope work and ship drawings.
While he has sold more than 200 copies on Whidbey Island and more off the island, that’s just the icing on the cake for Mercer.
“My goal has always been to meet my own satisfaction by producing something like this and participating in the community,” Mercer said.
Mercer has won various writing competitions, including the Whidbey Island Writers Association Celebrate Writing contest, for which he won awards in various categories over the years. He was also a member of WIWA and worked on his writing through WIWA workshops and writers conferences and now participates in a Freeland writing group.
Mercer started his own publishing company, Saratoga Design, and also published the book “An Island Full of Laughter,” a collection of humorous stories by participants in a WIWA class.
Mercer also wrote a history of Greenbank, which is for sale in the Greenbank Farm Wine Shop.
He’s working on three other novels right now. One is a tribute to Robert E. Howard, who created the character Conan. The Indiana Jones-esque adventure centers on a mercenary in contemporary Afghanistan who gets mixed up with the Taliban, encounters American troops and rescues lost people and artifacts.
“It’s a very interesting book for today,” Mercer said, adding that he hopes to make it available in the next few months.
Another of Mercer’s projects is a historical fiction novel about pioneers coming to Whidbey Island. A fictional character meets historical characters like Captain Coupe and ultimately becomes part of the Mosquito Fleet of steamships.
Mercer said that novel will be of particular interest to Whidbey Islanders, as well as another he’s working on that takes a step into the realm of fantasy when an ordinary Whidbey Island man walks into a mist and finds himself on a Whidbey Island nothing like the one he knew.
Mercer’s love of writing was nurtured at the private school he attended in Florida as a youth.
After attending military school and the University of Florida, Mercer joined the Navy. He became a radio operator for the P-2 Neptune and they flew for as long as 12 hours at a time searching for Russian submarines. He was also an aviation electrician.
“I loved the Navy and always wanted to be in the Navy,” Mercer said.
He moved to Washington in 1966 and began working for Boeing. He built homes on Whidbey Island, one of which he lives in now with his wife, Carolyn.
He’s also an avid boater and enjoys woodworking when he’s not writing, which is his true passion.
Mercer’s books are available at Kingfisher Books in Coupeville, Book Bay in Freeland and by contacting Saratoga Design at email@example.com.
For more information and to order copies of Mercer’s books, visit www.authorjmercer.com.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.