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Critical Raves for David Eugene Perry’s Debut Novel Upon This Rock from Pace Press

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Critical Raves for David Eugene Perry’s Debut Novel
Upon This Rock from Pace Press

Mystery Thriller Inspired by Real Life Suicide That Shook Orvieto, Italy and Catholic Church Ten Years Ago Today

30 November 2020 – Fresno, CA: When author David Eugene Perry arrived to the Italian hilltop town of Orvieto on November 30, 2014, the tightknit community was still abuzz with a real life tragedy exactly four years earlier. On November 30, 2010, a beloved young deacon leapt from the cliffs of the historic Umbrian village in despair for having been denied the priesthood because of rumors he was gay.

“I became obsessed with the real life story of Luca Seidita,” said Perry, 59, whose just published critically-acclaimed mystery thriller Upon This Rock from Pace Press is dedicated to Seidita. “His suicide had an immediate, and lasting, impact on Orvieto and on the Catholic Church, who did their best to cover up the event.”

Digging into the young seminarian’s life and death soon led Perry into a deeper research, and fascination, with Orvieto itself, including a rich Etruscan, Roman and World War II history, not to mention Medici Pope Clement VII taking refuge there following the Sack of Rome in 1527. It was during his Orvieto sojourn that the Pope was presented with the request by English King Henry VIII for a divorce.

“When I heard that, literally, the idea for a novel exploring Church conflict and cover-up separated by 500 years dropped into my head,” said Perry, who along with his husband Alfredo Casuso have visited Orvieto often in the intervening years. “In a very real way, Orvieto is not a place in Upon This Rock. Orvieto is a character in several eras.”

Always slated for a September 2020 publication date, the book was only slightly delayed due to COVID-19, although the planned publication tour, including a return to Orvieto, were by force delayed due to travel restrictions.

“We’re hopeful to do an in-person launch event in Italy in the spring,” said Perry, who has been doing online Zoom readings, interviews and a social media campaign highlighting the book in locations around the world. “I know it’s been read in Orvieto, as friends have been sending me photos of my readers in spots around town that feature prominently in the book.”

Pandemic aside, sales have been brisk and reviews positive.

“It’s the best selling fiction book in pre-sale we’ve ever had,” said Kent Sorsky, publisher of Linden Publications / Quilldriver Books. “This is even more impressive given that David is a first-time author.”

The early reviews would seem to explain why.

Upon This Rock: an “elegant twisty thriller” (Armistead Maupin, author ofthe international sensation Tales of the City); “the gay DaVinci Code, but a lot better” (Fenton Johnson, Guggenheim Fellow, author of The Man Who Loved Birds); Upon This Rock is “for those readers who love Italy and who love crime fiction” (Lucinda Hawksley, great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, author of Dickens’s Artistic Daughter, Katey); “Perry’s novel sparkles with campy wit but is written with serious clues that keep you reading. And, oh yes, because it is a mystery, there’s a killer of a surprise at the end. Move over, Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles. Welcome the new kids to the neighborhood, Lee and Adriano.(Will Snyder, Bay Area Reporter); Upon This Rock is “a perfect read for anyone who is into thrillers, mysteries and historical fiction, like John Grisham and Dan Brown for sure.”(Ankita Dasgupta, The Bookworm Resort); “This is a wild read. Perry’s ability to build suspense is impressive and the denouement of this thriller will not just surprise you, but literally stun.”(Erika Atkinson, author of Ode to the Castro).

“You will not find a more exquisite, captivating, well written first novel than David Eugene Perry’s Upon This Rock. I was literally hooked from the first chapter. Set in the Italian city of Orvieto, Perry takes us on a roller-coaster ride that begins with the Sixteenth Century papacy of the de Medici Pope, Clement VII, and then quickly plummets us to the present day. A wonderfully addictive and engrossing story with brilliant characters and an ending that will have you perusing your favorite bookstore looking for Perry’s next novel”(Dennis Koller, author of The Rhythm of Evil). “You will not be able to put his book down. It is a page-turner from the first sentence until the twisted unexpected ending.” (Lynn Ruth Miller, author of Getting the Last Laugh). In short, David Eugene Perry’s Upon This Rock is “A potboiler thriller with nail-biting suspense” (Lew J. Whittington, New York Journal of Books); a “sexy, historical thriller” (Julissa James, Nob Hill Gazette);”a love letter to Orvieto like Tales of the City is a love letter to San Francisco” (Eric Jansen, SF Bay Times & Out In the Bay).

“I always tell my own clients to not read their reviews,” laughs Perry, a longtime communications consultant and owner of an eponymous public relations business. “But, I have to admit, I’ve read a couple of mine and been greatly humbled. Plus, in the age of social media, I’m able to chat with my readers. Since COVID protocols don’t allow for in-person events at the moment, I autograph specially designed bookmarks and mail them out.”

What does Perry hope readers take away from his centuries spanning tale?

“Refugees,” says Perry, noting that the ongoing  migrant crisis in Europe is a major component of the novel and a constant backdrop. “Everyone in the book is a refugee of some sort, whether they’re fleeing war-torn African in flimsy rafts on the Mediterranean or someone trying to escape painful past sins or the memories of Orvieto’s occupation by the Nazis in World War II. None of the characters are who they first appear to be.”

And what of Luca Seidita, the real life young man who stepped off of the rock a year ago today?

“His story touched me greatly,” said Perry, who himself had considered the priesthood at one time in his life. “I hope, in some way, this book gives him a bit of literary life, albeit fictionalized.”

Upon This Rock by David Eugene Perry / 360 pages / $ 18.95 / Quilldriver Books, Fresno, CA.