In 2010 you had the honor of being nominated for the 2010 John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award. This award, presented by the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) is the longest established literary award in the UK and is an internationally accepted recognition of “excellence and achievement.” How did it feel being up for an award that is sponsored by the best selling author Louise Penny and an award that carries such a literary reputation? Were you able to snag any endorsements from this nomination?
It was certainly a surprise that STOP ME was nominated in any sort of literary awards let alone that it was recognised by the Crime Writers' Association. It just goes to show that there's a real appetite for new authors and that the zeal of the CWA allows those writers a platform. My sales certainly enjoyed a spike during the nominations so, whatever you think of awards, there's no denying that it gets your work that extra bit of exposure.
I see that you also enjoy one of my favorite authors: Harlen Coben. If Mr. Coben were your professor in a class on writing what criticisms or comments do you think he would have to offer on your writing? Do you think you’ve come a long way from a student of writing to professional author, in other words, do you think you’ve made “Professor Coben” proud?
I've yet to catch up on most of Harlan Coben's books but am very much looking forward to it. I've read three so far and I find them effortlessly engaging. I think every writer is on a continual learning curve no matter how accomplished they are. I certainly still feel I have a lot to learn. 'Could do better' would be the comment I'd leave on my own work. I'd hate to think what Professor Coben would write!
Please tell us about your career as a TV writer, script editor and producer. Does having such a varied and professional background prior to becoming a published author of fiction help to liberalize you in that you were a fearless writer when you began working on STOP ME or was it just the opposite, that perhaps you were too aware of your audience and too conscious that you needed to please them, and that you perhaps struggled with a case of stymies?
My TV background was in comedy and I think there are many similarities in the reaction you try to instigate with comedy and suspense/horror. It's visceral and as with comedy you're setting up and paying off - just doing it in a more circuitous way. I certainly think my script writing background helped me refine my dialogue but writing a book is a very different discipline. With TV I could write something and see it performed within a week but with a novel the wait is much longer - even if you already have an agent and an interested publisher (which I certainly didn't when I started writing STOP ME).
What separates STOP ME from your typical the-clock-is-ticking suspense story?
STOP ME isn't your average cop/serial killer thriller and most of the feedback I've had from readers who expected one type of story and got another was pretty positive. I set out to confound expectation and this seemed to be welcomed on the whole. Some people like a formula though and I completely respect that.
Any writing tips on a fast-paced novel?
I suppose the most basic tip is to make sure you give your reader no choice but to start the next chapter. Hooking them with an event or intrigue is an art I'm still trying to perfect but when readers tell me they ended up staying up until four in the morning to finish the book when they didn't intend to it's the best feedback I could possibly receive.
You’ve gone from writing comedy for the BBC to psychological thriller suspense. Do you scare yourself or your wife with your ambitions?
I scare both of us on a regualr basis but I think my wife is slowly getting desensitised to the products of my imagination. She's sat through a lot of my material at studio recordings and she thought STOP ME was pretty restrained in terms of some of the other material I've written...
If your characters were to walk off the page and stop at the local pub or ballgame, would you like to meet them? Any one particular question you have for them?
I'd ask them what they were doing slacking off when they should be busy scaring readers.
Describe for us your workday. Who is in control of your writing: you or your characters?
I think in the morning I'm in control but when the sugar levels drop in the afternoon that's when the characters have their wicked way.
Do you have a story to share of the least expected place or person that STOP ME has appeared? Has that touched you—or the other person—in any profound way?
Very early after its publication I got a tweet from a lady who lived in Hawaii who said she read STOP ME and loved it. This was before the Kindle edition was released so it was great to hear how far a paperback had traveled from the UK in such a short time. I love getting tweets from people who have read it. They're great boosts when you're trying to write.
Would you like to preview a little about your next release?
I'm hoping to release some details very soon but things can still change at this stage so I'd best not tempt fate. Needless to say, I'm hoping to up the ante with the suspense and twist quota. I don't think my wife will think this one is as restrained either...
Bio of Richard Jay Parker:
In the past twenty-four years Richard Jay Parker has been a professional TV script writer, script editor and producer. His debut thriller novel STOP ME became an Amazon bestseller and was also nominated for a CWA Dagger Award. He is currently finishing his second novel.
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