Welcome! Thanks for stopping in and agreeing to answer a few of my questions. :)How did you start your writing career?
I like to tell people that writing is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. We write because we have to, and don’t really have a choice. I began writing as a youngster, winning an essay contest in the sixth grade, writing snarky little stories in 7th grade English that had my teacher fuming and my classmates snickering. I continued writing, as it seemed to be my only talent, through school and into my working life. So, when people ask me how long I’ve been writing, I tell them that I’ve always considered myself a writer. Of course, that may not be what other people consider me. But that’s another story. Although I had articles published as a freelance journalist, and wrote a slew of bad short stories, I didn’t attempt long form fiction until 2001. My first novel was published at the end of 2003.
Tell us about your current release.
BRING DOWN THE FURIES is the second Quint Mitchell Mystery and takes my private investigator protagonist into the heart of the old South where he finds nothing but trouble. Quint is in pursuit of “The Heartthrob Bandit,” a suave con man who preys on elderly, wealthy women. While in Allendale, SC, where the story is set, Quint finds himself in the crossfire of an ugly cultural war between an ultraconservative minister and the scientist who may have discovered proof of the oldest humans ever found in North America. And while FURIES is a contemporary mystery, readers will learn a little of the history of the area since Allendale was in the path of General Sherman’s troops who burned down the original town on their march to Columbia. Echoes of this nasty deed continue today as a serial arsonist threatens the town and private investigator Quint Mitchell is caught in the backdraft.
How do you research your books?
Today’s writers are lucky we live in the Internet age where seemingly everything is there at our fingertips thanks to Google and other search engines. Still, there’s nothing like first-hand research when you need to get the setting right or finding the right source for little known details. My first Quint Mitchell Mystery, MATANZAS BAY, is set in St. Augustine, Florida. Even though I‘ve visited the nation’s oldest city numerous times, I still found reason to return again and again to be sure everything was accurate. For FURIES, I relied on the Internet as I was unfamiliar with the area where the story is set. Google Maps and Google Earth are a big help. I also identified a number of sites that provided me with historical context for the area, and found a few people who once lived there and were able to answer some of my questions. I did make a trip to see Allendale for myself before I finished the first draft and used what I observed and learned to make changes within the book and storyline.
What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?
They’ve been both tolerant and supportive. My wife is one of my first readers and corrects my poor grammar. I’m lucky that both of my sons are quite talented. My older son is an accomplished artist and created the covers for both MATANZAS BAY and BRING DOWN THE FURIES. My other son is an excellent writer in his own right, and works as the editor of a music magazine. He edited my first book, WINDRUSHER. I think they’re all happy I stay out of trouble and they haven’t had to commit the old man. At least not yet.
What do you think makes a good story?
Good question. I believe readers want to be taken out of their everyday lives into what James N. Frey calls “the fictive world,” where they can lose themselves for a few hours in the thrall of a great plot with compelling characters. In a word, they want to be entertained. And in the case of my two Quint Mitchell Mysteries, I’ve tried to give them more than just crime and punishment as readers of mysteries are intellectually curious and want to learn something as they work along with the detective to solve the crime. That’s why I weave historical threads through my books. I also work hard to create characters that will resonate and linger long after finishing the book.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?
Storybook characters have to be bigger than life, and you want to tag them with names that stick in the reader’s mind. You don’t want common names like Tom Jones or Mary Smith. But you don’t want something that’s difficult to pronounce, either. Think about the names of your favorite characters: Scout Finch from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Sue Grafton’s heroine, Kinsey Milhone, or the cannibal we love to hate from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Hannibal Lecter. All of these names help the reader form an image of the character. So I try to find the right name for each of my characters, no matter how large a role they have in the story. In FURIES, the reader will find an assortment of characters like Wilburn Peeks, the crusty Allendale Sheriff. There’s also Allene Skinner-Jarrett, Quint’s love interest—or should I say his lust interest—and the conservative minister who stirs up so much trouble, Pastor Dane Labon. And I shouldn’t leave out the Heartthrob Bandit, Ricardo “Ricky” DeAngelis. He’s the reason why Quint is in Allendale, SC in the first place.
Entice us, what future projects are you considering?
I’m currently finishing a collection of six short stories that will be available for Kindle. The collection is titled, “So Dark As One’s Own Heart,” which is part of Nathanial Hawthorne’s quote, “What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart? What jailer so inexorable as one's self?” You can see by that quote the stories are light-hearted comedies. Actually, they’re more suspenseful than horrific, with some humor and a lot of surprise endings. And then there’s the next Quint Mitchell Mystery. In this one, I transport Quint to Cedar Key, on Florida’s Gulf coast where he reunites with an old friend for a weekend fishing trip. Of course, things will go horribly wrong. There will be murder most foul, and poor Quint will be right in the middle of things, as usual. I’ve tentatively titled Quint #3, HURRICANE ISLAND, and hope to have it out early next year.
As the heat grows more intense, arson turns to murder, and Quint is embroiled in a growing firestorm that threatens to destroy Allendale for the second time. A media frenzy surrounding the clash of faith and science whips emotions to a fiery crescendo. With time running out, Quint is the only man standing between a vicious killer with nothing to lose and his plan to bring down the furies on Allendale and Quint.
Purchase Bring Down The Furies on Amazon.
About Author Parker Francis
In my first life I worked for the Public Broadcasting stations in NE Florida with diverse duties that included public affairs producer, director, reporter, fundraiser and producer of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. My first three books were written using my real name. They were adventure/fantasies with a feline protagonist. The WINDRUSHER trilogy won multiple awards and attracted readers of all ages.
Parker (aka Vic) lives in NE Florida with his wife and their rescued cats who tolerate them as long as their bowls are filled and litter boxes emptied.
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The author is giving away $50 Amazon gift card, $25 Barnes and Noble gift card and autographed copies of the two Quint Mitchell Mystery books, MATANZAS BAY and BRING DOWN THE FURIES. Fill out the form below to enter!