Two years ago, a tall quiet man walked into the GFW Writers group and said he had written a police detective mystery. I was one of the members of the group who participated in reading his finished novel. Joe began writing in 2008 and has written three novels. As a native of the Fort Worth, TX area and a longtime resident of Southlake, his novels are crime dramas based in and around Fort Worth. Joe says his novels provide familiar sights and sounds for residents in the area and a sense of the area’s feel and diversity for non-residents. I caught up with Joe Parr for an interview this week about writing and his début novel, The Victim. Joe is giving away one copy of The Victim to someone willing to provide a review on Barnesandnoble.com. Don’t forget to leave your email address with a comment at the end of this post.~~~
RJ: When did you start to write? What was your first story about?
JP: Although I’ve written for a long time as part of my career in consulting, the thought of writing a novel really didn’t start forming until late 2007. I make a distinction between my first manuscript and the first novel I’ve published. The first manuscript was more of an exercise in writing than truly crafting a novel. For that exercise, I really had no idea how to start and I had no concept for a storyline. Since I was looking at it more as a challenge than an artistic endeavor, I decided to fictionalize my life. I looked around at all the people I knew, mixed and matched looks, personalities, careers, attitudes, etc. until I had a group of semi-interesting characters. Then I gave them a reason to interact with each other and presented each one of them with their own set of challenges (alcoholism, bad marriage, failing political career, etc.). From there, the story unfolded into a tale of midlife crisis and redemption and how four, forty something guys deal with it and escape into the music of their garage band. It really wasn’t very good, but I proved I could write a ‘real’ book and learned about writing than I’d ever have in a classroom.
On my first attempt at crafting a novel, I fell back on what I liked to read. I’m a mystery suspense reader and have found that the books I like the most are books that not only entertain but also make you think about the world around you. Way back in the early eighties, Bernhard Goetz made news when he shot four young black men when they allegedly tried to mug him. I remembered the media coverage and how everyone jumped to conclusions based on their own stereotypes and based on their own perspectives. I took that kernel and built a story of a vigilante serial killer. But more than just trying to find the killer, I wanted to showcase the attitudes of the community, the media and the different detectives involved in the case. I wanted to write a story that would be fun to read but would also make the reader think about their own views and maybe realize that the bad guys aren’t always who you think they are and the definition of a victim depends on your perspective.
RJ: Have you had jobs along the way that helped in developing your story?
JP:My second and third novels (the two being published) are Police Detective Mystery Suspense and other than being an avid reader of that genre and a big fan of the same genre in TV and movies, I really have no direct job experience.
RJ: Which authors / books are you most influenced by?
JP: My favorites include Harlan Coben, Michael Connolly, Dennis Lehane and John Sandford. Of those, my personal style is closest to John Sandford. I’ve always liked how he is able to write a very compelling detective story without having outrageously unbelievable twists. His books, for the most part, seem like they could have really happened.
RJ: One tip you can offer to other first time authors.
JP: I’m a fairly organized writer so I’m a firm believer in outlining and planning out where the story is headed. But I don’t get too rigid. I will only outline about 5 – 7 chapters out. That way, I’ve got a structure and a direction but I leave myself the freedom to react to where the characters want to go.
RJ: What’s up next for you?
JP: I’ve just released my first Mystery novel (The Victim). It’s available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. I’m in the process of the final rewrites for my second Mystery novel (Stolen Innocence) and expect to release it in April. So while I’m focused on learning the marketing side of the craft, I’m also trying get refocused and get back to writing. After all, there are more murders to be solved.
The Victim is the first of the Detective Jake Hunter series of mystery suspense novels.
When two local gangbangers are found dead, who really cares? This ‘who cares’ case quickly turns into a high-profile hunt for a serial vigilante killer. The body count and pressure rise in Ft Worth, Texas as local community leaders and media pundits stir up political discourse and racial tensions mount.
Police Detective Jake ‘Cowboy’ Hunter has been out of the field for six months struggling to overcome the on-duty shooting death of his longtime partner. His boss has an easy case for him to ‘get back in the saddle’ while breaking in a new detective. After all, it’s just another case of bad guys ending up dead.
While he readjusts to being back on the streets, Hunter and his temporary partner, Billy Sanders, find themselves sloshing through the gang infested underbelly of Fort Worth as they chase a vigilante who has set himself up as a modern-day serial Bernard Goetz. In the process, he has set off a firestorm of racially tinged political pressure by choosing minority gangbangers as his targets.
Between the piling body count and the media frenzy building to what’s sure to be an all-out war on the streets, Hunter and his team’s investigation leads them to suspect even the ‘good guys.’ Tensions escalate until Hunter discovers the media hype can help him outsmart the killer. A short excerpt is available on Amazon.com and Barnes andNoble.com.
CAN’T WAIT? WHERE TO BUY JOE’S BOOKS: His current release (The Victim) is available in both paperback and ebook on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and Smashwords.com. His second release (Stolen Innocence) is due out soon. These are the first two novels of the Detective Jake Hunter series.
WANT TO CONTACT JOE? VISIT HIM AT: WEBSITE: http://www.joebparr.com/
Social media sites: FaceBook – Joe B Parr, Twitter @joebparr