Author, artist go covert: Meet them today at a book signing in Oak Harbor
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
April 9, 2012 · Updated 7:53 AM
A whirlwind adventure takes a unique trio of characters from Mexico to Thailand and everywhere in between in M. G. Chapman’s first book, “Covert Ops: License2Chill.”
But one of the most exciting parts is that the story begins locally --- both in the book and for Chapman and cover image artist, Pennie Allison Rees.
Meet Chapman and Rees at a book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 7 at Garry Oak Gallery on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.
“Cover Ops: License2Chill” is about a team of salvage divers living on a tugboat in Anacortes. But it’s not that simple: they’re a deeply embedded covert ops team.
“At any given moment, they could be sent around the world to stop some lunatic,” Chapman said.
And that’s exactly what happens. Toss in a beautiful psychic psychologist, an antagonist set on world domination --- or demolition --- and a ticking clock, and let the high-stakes adventure run its thrilling course.
Featured on the cover is Rees’ artwork, “License2Chill,” a painting of the book’s namesake tugboat.
What Chapman and Rees have in common is a love of water. They met on the local Dragon boat team, but their seafaring days began years prior.
Chapman, an ex-naval officer, planned to join the military since childhood. She adored her godmother, who was part of one of the first Air Force classes that allowed women in the military in World War II.
“From the time I was little, I wanted to go into the service. And the uniforms in the Navy were much prettier than in the Air Force,” she said, laughing.
Chapman’s naval background deeply influences her writing. As a youth, she enjoyed writing and refocused on it after joining literary agent and author Andrea Hurst’s writing group, Just Write at the Pier, which meets on the Coupeville Wharf.
Just Write offers a time for writers of all types to get together and discuss rejections and ideas, hear guest speakers and learn from each other.
Chapman had no intention of writing a book. Instead, she just had fun and wrote fan fiction based on her favorite TV show from her college days, “Wild Wild West.”
Since the characters and ideas were copyrighted, she didn’t expect anything to come of it, but her friends said, “Drag them into this century and put them on something other than a train,” Chapman said.
So she did. The characters morphed --- including one based on her husband, who was a Navy pilot --- and she moved them to the present day. However, those familiar with “Wild Wild West” will notice some running jokes.
The book takes place in Anacortes and the San Juan Islands and even includes Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Anyone who’s been to Toby’s Tavern in Coupeville may notice some similarities to the waterfront bar Chapman created for her characters.
While her Navy background brought the book to life, experiences from Just Write fleshed it out. She got a firsthand experience of the weapons her characters use thanks to a friend in the writing group who took her shooting.
“This is beyond cool,” Chapman said of the experience.
Rees also brings her passion to life through art. The Garry Oak Gallery member sailed all over the world for five years, from Mexico to Tahiti to Fiji and more, until the boat sank near Australia and she moved to Whidbey Island. Her wall of watercolors at Garry Oak Gallery depicts ships bursting through spraying waves, sail boats in calm waters and scenes of seashells.
“I love water, all kinds. In just about everything I do, there’s water,” Rees said of her art.
Rees earned her first art award in first grade.
“And the rest is history,” Chapman added.
Now, Rees sells her art worldwide. But when Chapman first approached Rees to commission a piece of artwork for the cover of her book, Rees said no. When she finally gave in, “The next time I saw her (Chapman), she had a manila envelope,” Rees said with a laugh.
Inside the envelope was a series of photos of ships with Chapman’s notes that read, “this bow,” “this stern” and more. Through those, Rees constructed a visual of License2Chill, the tugboat on the cover of Chapman’s book.
Afterward, Audrey Mackaman put the cover together. Chapman said she was impressed with the work of the 24-year-old from Coupeville.
“She’s just incredibly talented,” Chapman said.
Chapman is hard at work on the sequel to her book, which takes the team as far as Russia while still featuring local spots.
“I think it’s just fun that it’s local people and it takes place in this area. It’s just exciting,” Rees said.
Get a copy signed today at Garry Oak Gallery, located at 830 SE Pioneer Way #101 in Oak Harbor. “Covert Ops: License2Chill,” published by CreateSpace on Amazon, is also available at Amazon.com.
For more information, call Chapman at 360-672-1410 or Garry Oak Gallery at 240-0222.
Get your copy
“Covert Ops: License2Chill” is available at the book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 7 at Garry Oak Gallery, located at 830 SE Pioneer Way #101, Oak Harbor.
The book is also available at Amazon.com for $12.99.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.