Richard Parker burst onto the literary scene with his exciting debut book, STOP ME but the former script editor and TV producer hasn’t rested on his laurels. He has been busy working on a follow up. I tracked Richard down and literally forced him to give me answers to a few questions I had so that I could share them with the Today’s Paige readers.
1. After having what seemed to be a reasonably successful time as a script editor/TV producer, why the change of career into novel writing?
When you’re writing for TV you make a contribution and then a whole team of other talented people get involved. It can be a very exhilarating process and great fun to be part of but the downside is that very often people who aren’t qualified to be involved have more influence than they should. This can be very frustrating and I suppose my desire to write a book came from that.
2. What do you believe novel writing allows you to do that script writing didn’t?
A novel is still a team effort but involves less people – in terms of its creative production that is. Promotion is a whole different department of course. At the end, it’s the writer’s name on the cover which is satisfying and daunting in equal measure.
3. Your book STOP ME has been well received. What were the biggest lessons that you learned whilst writing it?
The two significant lessons for me came after I’d written it. These were realising how readers are willing to give an unknown author a chance and be generous in their desire to put the word out if they enjoyed it. My second lesson was realising how much promotion a writer has to do on behalf of their work. A publisher can only do so much but I think, whether authors like it or not, we have to become part of that process. With ebooks establishing themselves so firmly, there’s a lot of competition. This is a healthy situation though and I believe good books will find a readership. It also means great choice for the reader.
4. Spam email forwarding is a very modern phenomenon which the senders find exhilarating and the receivers find annoying. What prompted you to implement that into your book?
It was the starting point for the story because I think it’s something that a lot of people are familiar with. The origin and philosophy of a lot of the, ‘forward this email to ten friends otherwise you’ll have bad luck,’ has always struck me as slightly sinister as well.
5. How did you want Leo’s character to be perceived?
I wanted to convey someone who has been down every alleyway in terms of a search for his missing wife and is clutching at straws. I wanted the reader to be saying, ‘no, don’t go there,’ while at the same time sympathising with his need to find anyone who will talk about her in terms of her still being alive.
6. Have you seen any differences in the way the UK and US readers responded to the story?
The reaction has been pretty similar. I think a lot of readers were expecting a cop chase serial killer story and were pleasantly surprised. That’s not to say that I didn’t piss some people off!
8. Do you become influenced when writing new work by the previous characters fans say they like and don’t like?
I think you definitely have to take what readers say on board – at least take an average of the feedback you’ve received. I’ve had a lot of constructive criticism regarding STOP ME as well as some pretty bizarre comments.
7. What did you enjoy creating the most, the larger than life characters, or the run of the mill down to earth ones?
I think it was a combination of both. Bookwalter is a sinister character while he’s communicating with Leo via the Internet but the reality of who he is when Leo meets him is entirely different. It seems to be the case that the more gruesome their crimes the more prosaic real serial killers are.
8. What were the main differences between the first draft and the final published edition?
Not a great deal. I was lucky enough to find a publisher who was willing to go with the book more or less as it was written although it went through a number of drafts and polishes before they read it. Leo was a little more of a drug addict in the first draft and I removed a lot of that detail as it seemed to sedate the story as well as Leo.
9. When you create your story, what is the most important thing that you hope shines through for the reader?
I think you hope for a multitude of reactions – excitement, intrigue as well as them latching onto some of the themes you want to explore. I was really pleased that a lot of readers saw the dark humour of the whole story. Ultimately, I think you want your reader to remember your book – spend time thinking about it afterwards rather than just putting it to one side and immediately forgetting it.
10. The book’s website is quite atmospheric (music is included) and ties in with the book itself very well, did that take you a long time to plan and set up?
Thanks. A lot of people have commented on the music and I was very lucky to have a good friend who is a composer and kindly wrote the STOP ME theme for the site. I’m overhauling the site over the next few months and hope to implement some ideas which will tie in with the central premise of book 2.
11. You’ve recently been signed by Exhibit A for two new books, when will the first book from that deal be available and what can fans of your work hope to expect from the new offerings?
Book 2 – SCARE ME – will be available in the US at the end of April 2013 and early May in the UK. I’m also working on book 3 which I’ve had an enthusiastic response to from my editor, Emlyn Rees. All being well, that should be out a year after SCARE ME.
12. Is it true that you’ve dropped the ‘Jay’ from your name and if so, why?
As Angry Robot/Exhibit A are publishing SCARE ME in the US as well as in the UK they’ve asked me to drop it because there’s already a writer with a similar name.
13. Finally, if you could change one thing in publishing from the writer’s perspective, what would it be?
Nice question. I think publishing and ePublishing need to have dinner and then go out and get drunk together. There’s a lot of resistance to new technology from traditional publishing. The whole way books are produced, showcased and bought is changing whether we like it or not. I believe it’s an exciting time for all concerned. I was very pleased to hear about Angry Robot’s bundling (giving away electronic version of book with the traditional paperback) success. There are ways for both mediums to be enjoyed but a lot of people have to get their heads out of the sand before we can move on.
Forward this email to ten friends, each of those friends must forward it to ten friends, maybe one of those friends of friends of friends will be one of my friends. If this email ends up in my inbox within a week I won’t slit the bitch’s throat. Can you afford not to send this onto ten friends?
Vacation Killer Leo Sharpe’s life is shattered when his wife Laura suddenly disappears. His desperate need to find her turns to obsession when he becomes convinced she’s the latest victim of The Vacation Killer who has claimed eleven lives already – is Laura going to be the twelfth? The MO is the same every time – a woman disappears and within hours inboxes around the world receive a threatening email. A few days later, grim evidence of the victim’s death is delivered to the police. But in Laura’s case, nothing is sent. Has the killer spared her life? Why? And for how long? For Leo, the clock is ticking…he needs to do everything in his power to stop the killer before it’s too late.