The front door to the office of BradParksBooks.com was stuck.
Sarah, the smart intern, gave it a shove. With one hand. Then two. It wouldn't budge.
Next she leaned into it with her hip—tentatively at first, followed by her full weight.
Still nothing. Something seemed to be blocking its path. She knocked.
"Hey guys?" Sarah called out, her voice muffled by her mask. "Would someone let me in, please?"
"Oh, sorry," Zach, the silly intern, said from the other side of the door. "That's my bad. I just... need to... hang on."
Sarah heard him straining against something heavy. She also detected a hissing sound, like air escaping from a tire.
"Almost... there," he called out.
Finally, the front door opened a tiny sliver. Through the crevice, Sarah could just make out Zach's masked face. He was holding back a veritable wall of plastic.
"All right," he said. "I have to stand back now so we can socially distance. But I think you can make it through if you squeeze."
It was only when she made it through to the other side that Sarah could see what had been causing the obstruction: An enormous, inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex. The greatest predator of the late Cretaceous was filling almost the entire lobby of BradParksBooks.com headquarters.
In the conference room, Sarah was greeted by the cold, reptilian stare of several life-sized velociraptor cutouts. Overhead, several model pterosaurs hung from an oscillating ceiling fan, flying around the room in endless circles.
"Okay, Zach. What the heck is all this?"
"Didn't you hear? Brad's next book, Interference, got a starred review from Publishers Weekly," Zach said. "The money quote was, 'Michael Crichton fans won't want to miss this one.'"
"Yeah," Sarah said. "And?"
"Well, come on," Zach said, exasperated. "Michael Crichton! Jurassic Park! Dinosaurs, baby! We're talking about one of the bestselling entertainment franchises of all time. Books! Movies! Video games! Merchandising! There are all kinds of cross-marketing possibilities here. I've already ordered several dozen animatronic Procompsognathus—'compys' as laypeople call them—that we'll strategically deploy at bookstores to playfully bite at the ankles of customers who don't buy multiple copies of Brad's book. It'll be great!"
"Uh, Zach. You realize Interference has nothing to do with dinosaurs, right?"
"It... it doesn't?" Zach said.
"No. It delves in to the mysteries of the quantum universe—and how one professor's tinkering with those powers may have led him to great harm," Sarah said. "But that's very much in keeping with the Michael Crichton subgenre. It's all about making science accessible, relevant, and fascinating. And that's what Brad has done in Interference."
"Dinosaurs are cooler," Zach huffed. Then he frowned beneath his mask and walked away.
Zach's exertions aside, a lot of non-Mesozoic buzz is starting to gather around Interference, which releases September 1. In that glittering starred review, Publishers Weekly called it "an intelligent, fast-paced thriller" and opined, "Readers will fully engage with the well-drawn characters as Parks convincingly reveals the science that buttresses the suspenseful plot."
Interference also got a rave from Kirkus Reviews, which deemed it, "A twisty tale... Parks' suspenseful novel will beguile, entrance, and fool the sharpest readers."
Some of the interns' usual activities this time of year—like planning an in-person book tour—have been put on hold due to the pandemic. But Brad is already looking forward to several virtual events that will be free and open to anyone who can get themselves to an internet connection.
The first will be the launch party at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, which will be hosted, as always, by the Friends of the Essex Library. Book sales will benefit the library—and Brad will even sign/personalize a book for you! The interns will share a link with you when it becomes available.
There will also be a Facebook Live event at 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 3. Stay tuned to the Brad Parks Books Facebook page for more details.
Otherwise, the interns hope these strange times find you all healthy, well—and completely unbothered by pesky, biting dinosaurs.
Yours from a distance,
The BradParksBooks.com Interns