Hey, Mr. Parks, welcome to Reader’s Entertainment. Most of us here, alright, it’s me, I’m a big fan, so it’s awesome to be able to have this interview with you. Let’s get started. First, give readers a bit of background on yourself. I know you began writing as a news reporter. Can you tell us about those early years?
Hi Jocie! Great to be here. Let’s see, the early years. Well, I born at a young age and . . . Okay, okay. Basically, I was always a writer. I penned (or, rather, penciled) my first novel when I was seven. It was what you might call a nature thriller, about a bear wandering through the forest with his friends. Except I spelled it B-E-E-R. Dad loved that book. After that first critical success, I never looked back. I started writing for my weekly hometown newspaper when I was 14. At 22, I became the youngest full-time staff member at The Washington Post. At 34, I quit newspapers—because they’re, sadly, dying—to write novels full-time.
INTERFERENCE is a bit of a departure from your mystery/thriller roots, with more complex science involved. Where did this idea come from?
I had been wanting to write a physics novel for years. I could just never figure out how to fit my book to the science. Finally, I had a blinding flash of insight: I’ll fit the science to my book! Within about fifteen minutes, I had the basic plot for INTERFERENCE rattling around in my head: that a scientist’s research in quantum physics would get in trouble and his wife would have to try to save him. It’s really not that much of a departure for me. This isn’t science fiction by any stretch. It’s just thriller that happens to involve science. What drives the plot forward is what’s at stake for the people, who are hopefully the same kind of vibrant, fully realized characters I’ve always written.
Do you have any background in science? Or are you just a Trekkie? Or perhaps a Scientific American subscriber?
Well, I have a Ph.D. in MSU. (Making Stuff Up.) Other than that, no. I’m purely an amateur. But I think that helps, because I approach all this heavy physics from the same basic level of knowledge as most everyone else (read: zero) and therefore I can keep it simple, accessible, and fun.
INTERFERENCE explores Einstein’s quantum entanglement theory. Can you explain to readers what this is?
It’s pretty wild: Every now and then, two particles can be born entangled. When that happens, they are never again truly apart. You can measure one, and the other responds. Instantly. No matter how far apart they may have traveled. Einstein actually thought entanglement was a bunch of hooey—“Spooky action at a distance,” he called it. But it turns out Einstein was wrong. Entanglement has now been demonstrated in laboratories many times. It’s even being used to encrypt internet messages. The hypothetical that drives INTERFERENCE is: Okay, so if particles can be entangled . . . what about human beings?
Your main character Brigid Bronik is losing her hearing due to complications of otosclerosis. I think readers will be excited by this character. What prompted you to feature a character with a disability?
I have one basic rule for my protagonists: I have to like them. I can’t spend 400 pages with a jerk. As I was beginning to brainstorm INTERFERENCE, I met this new neighbor of ours, Melissa. I liked her immediately. And she happens to be a librarian with hearing loss. At some point it just clicked: I should make my next protagonist a librarian with hearing loss. (Yes, kids, this is how the sausage gets made.) I wanted to get the details right, so I interviewed Melissa; then I interviewed her audiologist. And before long the character took full shape. I really enjoyed writing Brigid. She is assuredly not the typical thriller heroine.
Writing at Hardee’s, is it the coffee? Or the pork chop and gravy biscuit….be honest! LOL
The most difficult thing about the pandemic for me on a purely trivial level? I can’t go to Hardee’s anymore! Even masked, it strikes me as reckless to sit in an enclosed space and breathe for four hours. If, God forbid, I turned out to be an asymptomatic carrier . . . Anyhow, back when I did do my writing at Hardee’s, it was definitely the free refills on Coke Zero. And the staff. They always took great care of me. I look forward to getting back there someday. I miss all my Hardee’s buddies!
Are you paying those interns yet? (readers if you haven’t checked out Mr. Parks newsletter you should! It’s written by his interns)
Why should I pay them when all they do is aggravate me and make fun of me? Those interns (for those who don’t know what Jocie is talking about) are out of control, if you ask me. I can barely go into the offices of BradParksBooks.com without something insane happening—the latest being the dinosaur incident. Really, they’re just a bunch of menaces. Zach in particular.
I appreciate your taking the time to do this interview, and wish you much success on Interference!!
Thank you, Jocie! As always, I’m just so grateful when readers take the time to check out my stuff—and I work hard to make it worth their while when they do!