Donald James Parker is author of Reforming the Potter’s Clay, Love Waits, Homeless Like Me, Angels of Interstate 29, and the Masterson Family Series including The Bulldog Compact, More Than Dust in the Wind, All the Voices of the Wind, All the Stillness of the Wind, and All the Fury of the Wind.
Shelagh: Hi Don, please tell us a little about yourself.
Don: There is nothing exciting in my life to spice up a bio. I went straight from high school to college. I obtained my degree in four years and then my life became less predictable. I taught school for a few years before giving up the classroom to program computers. I discovered the computers listened to directions much better than teenagers. My heart is still with the young adults though. It was hard finding my way when I was a kid. Our world has become much darker and more dangerous since then, making the coming of age process a very precarious one. My goal is to help teens find their way to lead a productive, healthy, and joyful life.
Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite and in what genre?
Don: I dabbled with writing back in 1980. The real journey to publish began in 2006. I’m not sure the bug has bitten yet, because I’m not compelled to write out of love for the publishing jungle. I hate having to classify something as a certain genre. I think I cross genre lines with my work. My books are about life and man’s relationship with God. Life doesn’t stay within genre lines. If you have to pigeonhole my work, Christian fiction will perhaps be the most meaningful classification.
Shelagh: When you began writing, what did you write?
Don: I started out wanting to write about sports, coping with life, and love in order to challenge people to live life to its fullest. Demonstrating morality and good life choices was a big-time goal for my first novel. Now after maturing, I find my message is similar but incorporates God into the equation as a main ingredient rather than just a catalyst.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Don: My latest book, a stand alone titled Homeless Like Me, came out in September of 2009. Members of the writing community should enjoy it because the protagonist is a wannabe novelist. He decides to write a story about the homeless and disguises himself as a transient. His disguise doesn’t fool one of the regulars, a three hundred pound, angry, black man.
The two become an odd couple and work together to produce the book. A twist of fate occurs when the hero falls in love with one of the volunteers at the rescue shelter. Due to her influence, the hero has to entertain the notion that God might really exist, bringing about agony of the soul in deciding what to do about his book.
Shelagh: Who is the most unusual character?
Don: Zeke is a huge black man who hangs out at the shelter. He is unemployed as a result of a former drinking and anger problem (mostly directed at his father) that earned him some jail time. He takes the wannabe novelist under his protective wing to help him with his project. His journey to learn to forgive his father is one of the main themes in the book, even though he is only a sidekick and not the hero.
Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting in your books?
Don: To be perfectly honest, I don’t develop anything. I just sit at the computer and type. When I get done, people ask me how I did that. I can only say it is a God thing. I don’t analyze what I’ve written and contrive to add a dash more romance or make a character a tad meaner or more loveable. I sometimes wonder what kind of monster I could create by applying my computer analysis skills to my writing. I don’t plan on finding out anytime soon.
Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Don: See the answer to question above. Mark Twain said that anyone attempting to find a plot in Huckleberry Finn would be shot. I might suggest that trying to find a plot in my work is a daunting challenge. I like to duck out of this one and say that my novels are character driven instead of plot driven. I usually don’t know what’s going to happen myself until I write it. Some people call that writing by the seat of your pants. Others might call it creative genius.
Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?
Don: I have a distinct (I think) writing style. I don’t follow rules very much. I’m trying to tell an engaging but edifying tale, not conform to someone’s arbitrary regulations for writing a good novel. I couldn’t care less about setting and description. The interaction of my characters, their conversations, and their thoughts are the things I focus on. My characters carry on intense and humorous (I hope) conversations that I refuse to interrupt with meaningless literary fluff. My POV is usually third person omniscient. I like to get into my POV’s head and reveal his or her thoughts.
Shelagh: How does your environment and upbringing color your writing?
Don: I was raised in a rural area. My hometown, in which I am living again, had fifty-four hundred residents when I grew up. I spent a lot of time on my uncle’s farm where I learned the facts of life and death. The importance of character and reliability were hammered home in that crucible (or maybe it was only an incubator). My heroes are usually people grounded in such character with emphasis on honesty, hard work, and the golden rule. They might have their moments of wavering, but they always find their way back to the straight and narrow.
Shelagh:Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had.
Don: Hard to choose. I’ll use this one from Apex Reviews:
All the Voices of the Wind offers a deeper, more probing look into the inner workings of a family in constant flux. The bond between Jeremy and his father remains strong, but as its strength is tested by Jeremy’s budding relationship with Maria, the reader is presented with a realistic portrayal of just how difficult it can be for family members, no matter how close, to preserve the integrity of their respective unions. In addition, Donald James Parker – in his typical intrepid style tackles the topic of evolution head-on, offering insightful, well-thought-out analysis of the issue from all sides. His attention to detail ensures that the reader comes away with a comprehensive, in-depth perspective on the matter, and he does ultimate justice to a spirited debate that only continues to grow in intensity. Moving, engaging, and entertaining, All the Voices of the Wind is a heart-rending literary treat.
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Don: I am working on perhaps my most ambitious novel yet – a story of an American Indian reservation and a clash of traditional native religious practices and Christianity. In addition I’m just putting the finishing touches on an anti-vampire novel and have started a novel dealing with demons, which will be somewhat similar to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Don: My website is www.DonaldJamesParker.com Details about all of my books are found there, and my ebooks can be downloaded for free.