I'm delighted to welcome novelist Patrick Parker, who has written three intriguing novels so far, to my blog. Welcome, Patrick!
Thank you, Maggie, for your time and giving me the opportunity to talk with you.
Tell us about yourself and your life to date.
I retired from the US Army, then worked in the defense industry for fifteen years. My duty assignments took me to Italy, Germany, Panama, as well as the United States. My corporate work took me to Europe, across the United States and England. I am now settled in Texas, writing full time. I enjoy scuba diving, sailing, going to the beach, and astronomy.
A challenge issued by your wife led to you writing 'Treasures of the Fourth Reich' - can you elaborate?
I picked up a suspense book to read on the plane for a trip. This particular book, by one of the large publishing houses, was hyped as a “must read” and had several endorsements. I thought I couldn’t go wrong. However, I found numerous errors and holes in the plot. In some instances, the story line was not believable. When I returned home, in a conversation, my wife asked how I liked the book. I told her about it, and that I was disappointed. I made an offhanded comment that I could write a better book. She said flat out, “Why don’t you?”
Time passed and I began thinking of her comment, but doubt filled my head. A few travel excursions later, I bought another suspense book and it too, disappointed me. Then I was sent to Panama on a classified assignment. I stopped in at an art gallery hoping to buy a painting as a memento. The owner of the shop was active in the resistance against Manuel Noriega and looked to the United States to rescue her country. She told me at length, about the situation in the country. I found her fascinating. My trip to the isthmus did have many tense and exhilarating moments. Soon after I returned, in one conversation, my wife asked me again if I was going to write a book. “It is harder than you think,” she said. I think she was just tired of me complaining of the quality of some books. Her comment was all it took. Panama was still fresh in my head and I thought the art dealer would make a very interesting character in a book. The idea took shape and 'Treasures of the Fourth Reich' was born.
How far is the character of Maria Conner based on that art dealer you met in Panama?
Maria Conner is based on a real person in Panama. That person, I’ll call her Mary (not her real name), did own an art gallery. Mary was very vocal in her opposition to the Noriega regime. She intrigued me, although it was a bit frightening. Almost immediately, she asked me if I was going to save them. She began to tell me of the atrocities occurring there. She even told me she and a number of others were organized against the government. Her flat out statements were alarming. If we were overheard, I probably wouldn’t be here. Mary is about the same age as Maria Conner and, probably, much the same personality. Mary did have tragedy in her life as well. Yes, I did buy a watercolor painting from her.
From where did you get the inspiration for the character of Dydre Rowyn in 'War Merchant'?
Dydre Rowyn is a combination of several women I knew from my work in the defense industry. I took from their personalities, traits, and background. Usually, the protagonist in a book like War Merchant is male. I thought a female would not only be a better twist but also add to the suspense. I didn’t want to have the usual stereotypical book. I knew it would be a challenge to maintain her femininity and it was. This character had to be smart, cunning, attractive, not cower when faced with danger, and deadly. I have known some female soldiers that were tougher than woodpecker lips. A female is more deadly than a male. So, after all that, Dydre came to life. The excellent reviews and comments on my female protagonist, from women, tell me that I accomplished my goal with her.
Tell us about your latest book, 'Six Minutes Early'.
Your books so far have focused on issues of war. Will you write about other themes and in different genres in the future?
Yes, they have but I don’t want people to think they are war books. I have been asked many times if some of my characters will return in another story. I would like to bring them back and have a few ideas to do just that. For the time being, I think I will stay in the suspense genre. Yes, that is a broad area and one I like and enjoy writing. I may bring a character(s) back for a crime story or mystery. For now, I have several ideas that incorporate politics, history, and current events. There is so much going on in the world now that you can’t make up. It is ripe for storytelling!
How does your writing fit in with your non-writing life?
That is a good question. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you it infringes too much. I look at it as a full-time job and I am focused on the story at hand. It is time consuming, but if you want a good product, you must devote the time. I do get involved in a story and probably do drive everyone nuts until it is finished. How do you see your writing career progressing?
What are your literary aims and ambitions?
What's been the most joyful part to date of being a novelist?
The most joyful is getting my books published and reading the reviews. My mother, wife, and daughters are very proud of my accomplishments. That in itself is very gratifying. Some of my old friends and classmates are not only astounded that I am published but elated as well. I guess I just surprised everyone.
What are your top three strengths (as a person, not just as a writer)? Your top three weaknesses?
My top three strengths are: I am very tenacious; I have great attention to detail; and I am disciplined. I want to produce quality work. Sometimes my tenaciousness and attention to detail consume too much time. My three weaknesses are: I get impatient at times; I fret too much over the small things, which I have no control over; and incompetence drives me crazy. I do work on these weaknesses and try to keep them in check.
Thanks, Patrick! It's been a pleasure interviewing you.
Wow, those strengths and weaknesses mirror my own! Want to know more about Patrick and his books? Visit his website at http://patrickparkerbooks.wixsite.com/author