Hi. Brad here.
Elsewhere on this website, you will find a lot of professionally worded verbiage whose purpose is to impress you with my accomplishments. Either that, or a lot of silly stuff written by my interns.
Here, it’s just me. Keeping it real.
Book marketing people have long told me I should write a blog, because readers want to “get to know” the author.
Not this author, they don’t, I’ve always thought. I’m the most boring person who ever lived.
That’s not false modesty. If you could shadow me for a week, what you’d see is a middle-aged guy who wakes up without an alarm clock within fifteen minutes on either side of 6 a.m., gets to his computer as quickly as he can—because he knows morning is his best time—and writes until the words stop making sense. He usually exercises, because he knows it’s good for him. He spends the rest of the day basically wasting time (because sending emails and bantering with your agent doesn’t really count as work) or driving his kids places. Oh, he also usually makes dinner for the family.
Like I said. Boring.
The only place there’s anything interesting going on—sometimes, anyway—is inside my head, where there’s this constant stream of . . .
Junk, mostly. I always say I get ten ideas for a book a week—and eleven of them are bad.
Thankfully, I forget them soon enough. But every now and then an idea keeps coming back to me. And each time it does, it grows a little larger until it starts to take on a life of its own. That’s usually the book you end up reading.
I’ve always had a large internal world. As a kid, I would play football alone in the backyard, throwing the ball to myself, even tackling myself—all the while inventing stories about the players. (It’s good cameras were not as ubiquitous in the 1980s, or else I’m sure my parents would have embarrassing footage of me throwing my ten-year-old self to the ground after a bruising, imaginary five-yard run up the middle.)
Even now, I can cruise past a cop, staying in the all-important single-digits above the limit, being completely ignored by said officer. But in my mind I’m being arrested, denied my rights, and tossed into a spartan jail cell, where I am accused of a murder I did not commit and soon discover a massive conspiracy in which . . .
Sorry, where was I?
Oh. Right. Keeping it real.
So, for real: All I’ve ever wanted to be is a writer.
I was fourteen when I got my first writing job, covering high school sports for my weekly hometown paper in Connecticut. What quickly hooked me wasn’t the writing. It was being read. I don’t write for myself. I don’t begrudge those who do; but, for me, writing has always been performance art.
It’s about invoking reactions in other people. Making them laugh. Or cry. Or tremble. Making them feel things.
At first, I was a pretty bad writer. Most people are. Then, slowly, I fell in love with words—the thrill of being able to manipulate them, to make them say exactly what I meant. Next I fell in love with narrative. I was working fulltime for a daily newspaper by that point, and I learned how to ask questions and find the story in anything. I learned most readers care a whole lot more about story than they do about words.
Then in my late twenties and early thirties, I turned to writing books. And that has become the work of my lifetime, something I’m constantly striving to do better.
At 34, faced with certain realities about the newspaper industries—that it was dying and nothing could be done to save it—my wife decided I should make this crazy career shift: To quit my job and become a fulltime novelist.
It’s worked out far better than I ever had a right to expect. As of this writing, I’ve authored ten books. The first six were a semi-autobiographical series featuring an investigative reporter named Carter Ross—a stiff white guy who goes into the toughest neighborhoods in Newark, New Jersey, to get the story.
The books have serious social issues woven through them, but the tone is lighthearted and, at times, funny. Especially the earlier ones. When I started writing them, I was married but we were still childless. I honestly didn’t always take the world that seriously.
That changed when we had kids, when the life’s consequences were no longer just happening to me or my wife—they were happening to our children. To this family we had created.
That’s when I started writing standalone thrillers. They have allowed me to explore darker themes and tackle more complex plotlines. There are four of them so far, with many more on the way—mostly because those kids I just mentioned are smart like their mother and will want to go to good colleges someday, and Daddy has no other marketable skills.
(Let’s dismiss one myth early in this blog: Like most authors, I’m not wealthy. I don’t have hot and cold running servants. I count myself extraordinarily privileged to make a living doing this, but it should be clear from the cars in my driveway—a six-year-old Ford and a nine-year-old Honda—that it’s not that good a living.)
If there’s a common element in all of my books, it’s that the main characters are ordinary folks. They’re not ex-special anything. They can’t hack a website while typing with their toes or defuse a bomb with their teeth.
They’re the kind of people you could bump into at the grocery store. They’re decent and kind, trying hard at this life. Sometimes they scuffle by. Sometimes they fail spectacularly. But they’re always, above all, human.
And, certainly, I hope you like them and their stories as much as I do. Because without you, dear reader? None of this happens.
This is one of the places where my words will probably fail me: Explaining how much I appreciate you. I am forever cognizant that you don’t have to spend your money or time on my books. I try very hard to make them worth your while. I’m grateful for you every day.
And I truly do love to hear from you. I’ve disabled the comments section in the blog—don’t feed the trolls—but you can always reach me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook www.facebook.com/bradparksbooks, or Twitter www.twitter.com/brad_parks.
Beyond that, well, there’s not much more to say.
Told you I was boring.