Self-published and award-winning author Dave Perrin says he was in remedial reading from the time he was in Grade 1 to Grade 9. “All of my teachers would be astounded to think that I had gone on to do writing,” he told a gathering of local readers at the Greenwood Public Library last week.
“Every one of my counselors right up until Grade 12 told me to go and do a vocation, because with the marks that I had in math and physics they kept telling me I was probably not going to be able to handle the university,” he laughed.
He didn’t listen to his counselors though. He went to university and became a veterinarian. It turns out what he may have lacked in aptitude for math and physics he made up for with a natural ability to really listen to animals and know what’s going on.
He also had a love for the James Herriot books and that led him to write Don’t Turn Your Back in the Barn, the first of five books in his Adventures of a Country Vet series.
“I always said from the moment I started my practice that I was going to do these books and the girls would always say – oh there’s one for the books. There always was another one for the books because as soon as you put people and animals together there are a lot of funny things that are going to happen.”
He publishes through Dave’s Press Inc. (davespress.com). His first book sold 60,000 copies in Canada and has now been translated into Japanese, Korean, Estonian and they are working now on Russian and Spanish translations.
The next two books have been translated into Estonian, Korean and Japanese.
In 2004, along with Debbie Palmer, he co-wrote his only non-fiction book, Keep Sweet – The Story of Polygamy, which is about Palmer’s incredible story growing up in the community of Bountiful in the Creston Valley.
“This book was certainly a very difficult task. There were times when I would have to put it aside for a week at a time because I couldn’t get back at writing some of the stuff. A lot of it was very heartbreaking.” He was struck by the thought of actually going through the things Debbie had written in the rough draft of the book.
Perrin said that when Palmer left the polygamous cult she tried for the better part of three years to write the book on her own and finally one night in desperation she phoned him and asked for help.
Keep Sweet is the story of a three-year-old girl growing up in a polygamous cult with her family and watching her father marry a 14-year-old daughter of Ray Blackmore.
Although the book is set in the early ’50s and ’60s, Palmer’s experiences are representative of those that many children of polygamous groups are currently experiencing.
Keep Sweet won the 2005 Vancity Prize for the best book published in British Columbia on women’s issues.
The title comes from the belief of the fundamentalist Mormon sect at Bountiful that the only way for a woman to make it to heaven is to have her husband extend his hand into her grave to lift her up. “If you don’t stay sweet in your relationship your husband will choose to leave you in the grave and you will stay there for eternity,” explained Perrin.
Perrin is working on the sixth book in the veterinary series. “This one will be called Better Late Than Never,” he laughs. “Which is probably appropriate because everybody keeps nagging at me saying where’s the new book.”
To maintain artistic and financial control of his work, Perrin decided to try something that is becoming more common, self-publishing. In 2000, Dave’s Press was established and his first book in the Adventures of a Country Vet series, Don’t Turn Your Back in the Barn, was published. It was followed with the release of Dr. Dave’s Stallside Manner (2001), Where Does it Hurt? (2003), Never Say Die (2006), and When the Going Gets Tough (2010).
More information about Dave Perrin, the press and his books can be found at davespress.com