This week’s other featured book, “Smile, Or Else,” by Chanel Brenner, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our authors page.
THE BOOK: Bridge Across the Ocean.
PUBLISHED IN: September, 2021
THE AUTHOR: Jack B. Rochester.
THE EDITOR: Tori Merkle.
THE PUBLISHER: Brilliant Light Publishing/Media L3C, Norwich, Vermont.
SUMMARY: A story about the love of bicycing, the love of technological innovation, cross-cultural love, and the love between people. Jedediah Smith, Luke Lin, David Bondsman and Rick Saundersson have created the most innovative bicycle drive in history: The Spinner, a technologically advanced device that produces and stores its own energy without using batteries. It’s 2011, it’s ideally positioned for the just-emerging city bike market, and the world’s largest bicycle maker located in Taiwan is interested.
Just before they are to leave for Taipei to discuss a licensing agreement with Joyful Bike, Luke is struck down while cycling and killed by a hit-and-run driver. Although heartbroken, the three friends decide to continue with their business travels, taking Luke’s fiancée Suzie Sun with them.
The guys begin negotiations with Joyful’s director of business development, Jung-Shan Lai. She takes them cycling on Joyful bikes through Taiwan’s breathtaking scenery as they continue to thwart the attacks of two business espionage intellectual property (IP) thieves. Jed promptly falls in love with Jung-Shan, and she with him.
Will the team be able to secure and finalize their business deal with Joyful Bike? Will the agents of business espionage ride away with the stolen bicycle drive intelligence? Will the three friends get justice for Luke’s tragic death? Will Jung-Shan and Jed work out their cross-cultural love affair?
THE BACK STORY: I’ve been a serious cyclist since 1988. I won’t soon forget the teenaged girls in a convertible who intentionally tried to run me into a ditch with their blood-curdling screams. More than a few drivers have tried to squeeze by me without crossing the center line. Yeah, it can be scary and dangerous out there on a bike. But it’s also hard to beat the exhilaration and feeling of freedom that come from pedaling yourself to peak physical and emotional experiences. It took me five tries to summit the Kancamagus Pass, but I’ll never forget that endorphin-high when I finally made it.
So as a cyclist, I was inspired to write this book because on August 24, 2012, Dana McCoomb, driving of an 18-wheel truck, ran over and killed Alexander Motsenigos, who was riding his bicycle on Weston Road in Wellesley, Massachusetts. At the time, Mr. Motsenigos was a 41-year-old husband and father of a six-year-old son. McCoomb drove off, but was caught on surveillance cameras. The police stopped him later. He claimed he didn’t recall hitting anyone.
A grand jury failed to charge him with a single infraction.
When I began writing this, my fourth novel, in 2011, its title was Shift. After Alex’s death in 2012 and due to my growing awareness of the vast number of cycling deaths in this country – around 1,000 per year – I renamed it White Bike. By 2015, the manuscript had been retitled Bridge Across the Ocean and had grown to 118,000 words. I set it aside while I finished writing and publishing Anarchy, which my associate editor Tori Merkle and I worked on together. I knew Bridge was too long but I couldn’t bear to shorten it. In 2019 I gave it to Tori and she pared it down to 86,000 words so it was of publishable length. I feel the book is as much hers as mine.
WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a true bridge across the ocean in the Ponghu Islands between two of its 88 islands. Almost three miles in length, it crosses the South China Sea (aka Strait of Taiwan). It became a metaphor for the business relationship between Smithworks and Joyful Bike, as well as between Jed Smith and Jung-Shan Lai, who fall in love with each other.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Bridge Across the Ocean is an eclectic mix of genres that breaks through fiction stereotypes, thanks to the author’s engaging story. It opens the door to a diverse readership. It’s contemporary and action-packed. It has its share of suspense and what-happens-next: intellectual property (IP) espionage, business and technological innovation, and a deeply moving love story.
An avid cyclist for more than 30 years, author Jack B. Rochester combines his love of cycling with his love of writing in his fourth novel. “This is a book about love,” he says. “It’s a story about four intelligent business innovators’ love of bicycles and cycling; the love by all parties of technological innovation; and a love between two people and the importance of unconditional love between all people.”
To support this message and bring awareness to cycling safety, I’m donating all royalties to organizations promoting bicycling safety, beginning with the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.
“The span of the metaphoric bridge across the ocean has one end in New Hampshire and the other in Taiwan. At one point the three MIT graduates, on a visit to tour the Penghu Islands with Jung-Shan, ride across the 2,494-meter Penghu Trans-Oceanic Bridge, which truly does cross a roaring section of ocean. The joy of riding, buffeted by wind over the roaring chaos of the ocean South China Sea below, reads like a real-world analog to the pleasure of reading this novel. The ride continues to a profoundly satisfying and surprisingly spiritual ending.” — Rob Swigart, author of Little America, Portal, Mixed Harvest and more
“We need stories like Bridge Across the Ocean to remind us that cycling is an act of vulnerability and an act of joy. Some readers will decide to one day bike through Taiwan. Others will daydream about breakthroughs in bike tech. Everyone will carry Luke’s story in their mind. I did all three because after all, as Joyful Bike’s CEO says, “The bicycle is my destiny.” — Sara Dykman, author of Bicycling with Butterflies
“I loved Bridge Across the Ocean from beginning to end. I’d never read a novel in the cycling genre, nor one set largely in Taiwan. These ingredients combined for a uniquely delicious literary stew. Bridge Across the Ocean reveals important truths about the impact of cultural differences on business, love and life. You won’t be disappointed. I’m giving it two thumbs up.” — Bob Calverley, author of Purple Sunshine and Sunshine Blues
“The themes layer nicely. A start-up negotiating with manufacturing giants of China, the testing and science of a remarkable (and entirely plausible) power train for commuter bikes, a foreshadowing of the Lime-Lyft-Spin bike-sharing explosion, serious industrial espionage attempts, and, finally, a love story. The latter at first seems almost predictable – boy meets girl – but then the surprises come. What I like about the book is all this layering, and the progression from the first mystery to the conclusion. And that it is not a polemic or harangue about bike safety. It gets its message across in a much more subtle and profound way. What I don’t like about this book is that there are such things as “white bikes” and that there are more each day.” — John Gantz, author of Pirates of the Digital Millennium and Pan-Mass Challenge cycles.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: This book is dedicated to Asian-American unity and to everyone who loves riding a bicycle. Although we need to memorialize and honor cyclists killed in traffic accidents, I feel it’s most important for each of us to actively help lower the number of cycling casualties. To that end, I’m donating 100% of my royalties from Bridge Across the Ocean to organizations or causes involved in improving cycling safety in the United States. There are many worthy recipients for such donations. The first recipient is the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, or MassBike as we call it here. The gift will likely be awarded to different organizations over time. You can follow my donations and activities and read much more about these issues at the book’s website.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Pedego Bicycles, 8A Camillia Place, Lexington MA; Bikeway Source, 111 South Rd, Bedford, MA. Maybe Book Ends, Winchester, MA, but the book isn’t published yet. Wish we had a bookstore here in Lexington. We used to have three.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
PRICE: $17.95 print, $10.99 ebook .