The stench of burnt latex filled the air of the offices of BradParksBooks.com.
Zach, the silly intern, was wearing a faded Riot grrl T-shirt. A copy of Ms. Magazine sat just to his left. He was crooning along to Helen Reddy's classic anthem of female empowerment "I Am Woman."
Sarah, the smart intern, entered cautiously, trying to remember where she had stored the office fire extinguisher. Neither Maggie, the clueless intern, nor Peter, the slothful intern, appeared to be around.
"Zach, what's that smell?" Sarah asked, wrinkling her nose.
"... I've paid the price. But look how much I've gained. . . Sorry, what?"
"What's that smell?"
"I was burning a bra," Zach said. "Really, it was more of a test-burning. I'm trying to get a handle on the pyrogenics involved."
"Do I even want to ask why?"
"I'm getting in touch with my feminist side," Zach said.
"Umm, okay? Because. . ."
"Because Closer Than You Know is Brad's first book with a female protagonist, the indominable Melanie Barrick, who faces the unimaginable with inspiring strength," Zach explained. "Even the secondary storyline is driven by a female prosecutor. This book is serious girl power. And you know what else it is?"
"Now I definitely don't want to ask," Sarah said.
"It's a unique marketing opportunity. Did you realize—and this totally blew my mind—that approximately half of all consumers identify themselves as 'female?'"
"No. Really," Sarah deadpanned.
"I know, right?" Zach said, shaking his head. "And it couldn't be better timing. We're riding the zeitgeist here. 2018 is shaping up to be the Year Women Fought Back. Harvey Weinstein is being roasted on a spit. Gropers are on the run. We need to be all about women, all the time. I'm talking to Sarah Michelle Gellar about making an appearance as Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Brad's book launch. And—"
"Zach, stop," Sarah said. "Women don't want to be pandered to. All we're asking for is a fair shake in this world. One of my favorite bumper stickers is, 'Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.' That's it. You don't have to make outrageous overtures to get women to pay attention to this book. Just let them read it and make up their own minds."
"So the Photoshopped posters of Brad next to Gloria Steinem?"
"Probably not going to move the needle," Sarah said.
"And the pink pussy hats with the cover of Closer Than You Know and the words 'Grab This Book Instead'?"
Zach stewed in this for a moment.
"Excuse me," he said, picking up his phone. "I have to cancel a few things."
In the meantime, Closer Than You Know, which releases March 6, is now available for pre-order. The rave reviews are continuing to pour in. In addition to the star from Library Journal mentioned in the last newsletter, Kirkus Reviews also gave it a star, saying, "Parks dishes out another irresistible descent into hell."
(After that one, Zach was expressly banned from wearing devil horns, brandishing a pitchfork, or engaging in other overt references to the netherworld).
Publishers Weekly called it, "Exciting. . . Parks excels at keeping the pages turning with brisk pacing, relentlessly high tension, and a knotty narrative."
Booklist cheered that Closer Than You Know was, "A diverting, exciting read, with an ending you won't see coming." And Suspense Magazine opined that, "Brad Parks is a master at creating frightening, emotionally overcharged stories that take your breath away."
In addition, the Closer Than You Care To Get Book Tour is taking shape. After launching in Staunton, VA, where Closer Than You Know is set, Brad will be undertaking a nationwide jaunt that will send him from Arizona, to Texas, to Florida, then to the northeast.
As usual, Brad is excited to rekindle old friendships and create new ones. He also promises only to sing when asked, but no one is taking him seriously on that one.
Now if the interns could only get Zach to stop singing. . .
XX (as in the chromosomes),
The BradParksBooks.com Interns