Jun 5, 2020
By S.A. Jernigan
An early resident of The Sea Ranch, situated at Sonoma County’s westernmost outskirts, Thomas Cochrane is supposed to be enjoying his retirement these days. However, he continues to heed the call for his geology skills when needed by coastal property owners – and then there’s the call of the keyboard.
You see, at 80 years of age, Cochrane morphed into an author.
This second act of his began with the release of his rigorously researched, Shaping the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast – Exploring the Coastal Geology of Northern California which was published three years ago on Valentine’s Day. Although it got a late start according to the calendar, it nevertheless finished the year as Gualala’s Four-Eyed Frog Books’ “#1 Bestselling Book of 2017” and has similarly been a bestseller at Copperfield’s Books and dozens of other booksellers regionally as well as the California Welcome Center and Armstrong Redwoods State Park. Along with delving into the mysteries as well as oddities of the area’s coastal geography -- including dozens of color photographs, charts, and diagrams — a key feature of the book is its “Road Log” which equips the reader to enjoy an 85-mile self-guided geological tour from Bodega Bay to Elk using county mile markers along scenic Hwy. 1, and also includes must-see features en route along with tips for best hikes, picnic spots, etc.
Book #2 followed approximately a year and a half later in the summer of 2018, Tornados, Rattlesnakes & Oil – A Wildcatter’s Memories of Hunting for “Black Gold,” a warts-n’-all telling of his journey from Greene, New York to the glacier fields of Alaska, to the dusty plains of the Midwest’s oil patch of yesteryear (60s/70s) where he quickly became a Big Oil insider in leveraging his geology skills; later honing his deal-making prowess and partnering on the fly while chasing the next hot prospect after setting out on his own. Along with detailing the technical processes involved in “seeing” underground in search of oil, Cochrane also highlights the thrill of the hunt—including what can sometimes go very wrong. The book concludes with some candidly reflective chapters in which he not only ponders the future of fossil fuels in light of society’s move towards green energy, but also includes the author’s own mea culpas in disclosing how his own thinking has changed so radically over the years on this as well as other topics. Tornados also includes a chapter entitled, “R n’ R— and finding paradise at land’s end” describing his discovery of The Sea Ranch and touching upon his decades residing there – including how relocating to the west coast has also shaped his now-avid environmentalism.
Having shared his geological insights and memoir, the writing bug persisted with Cochrane. At this point, even though he admits he’s not a reader of detective stories, an imaginative core idea presented itself – what if there was not one protagonist, but two? Inhabiting the same body, mind you. And so the disparate characters of Gee and Karen Lowell were birthed and took shape inside the pages of Entwined – In Mystery & Murder…x 2, which zips readers along on an unexpectedly diverse set of adventures and has “the pair” trotting the globe and involved in some of the highest profile arenas of today’s news including para-military groups, government corruption, gun control, international money laundering, and hurricane relief.
Oh and there’s a classic whodunit wrapped inside its pages as well — along with a highly unorthodox conclusion as “playing by the rules” is something which can surely be granted some leeway for the now-83 year old author. Entwined is written in a very tongue-in-cheek style of suspended (or idealized) reality; it’s on sale now at multiple locations of Copperfield Books as well as eight other Sonoma County retailers, and can also be ordered by any bookstore nationwide.
Cochrane has already completed Entwined’s sequel and its release date is slated fo later this year. “Four by 84”…and he’s still typing away.
To learn more about author/geologist Tom Cochrane, his writing, public speaking, and environmental activism visit: www.RiverBeachPress.com.
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