Guest Author Interview – Patrick Parker

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Title: Six Minutes Early

Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Espionage

Synopsis: Max Kenworth, a former Delta Force officer and nuclear weapons expert, is tasked with stopping a major attack on US soil in this thrilling adventure.

FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has stolen a cache of man-portable nuclear devices from a secure American facility in Panama. The weapons end up in the hands of ex-special forces officer Bart Madison. With the help of ISIS, drug cartels, and a US senator, Bart is planning to use the devices to create an atrocity in the American heartland.

Max is briefed on the situation by SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and teams up with FBI agent Gail Summers and Mossad agent Danya Mayer to find the weapons before they can be used against American citizens. The three will face opposition from both foreign enemies and so-called allies as they follow Bart’s trail across the continental United States. Their foe is intelligent and well connected, but the three of them are determined to stop this terrorist before more lives are lost.

Patrick Parker, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Patrick Parker. He has spent several years working in the defense industry. Welcome to my blog, Patrick.

CH: Can you sum up this espionage thriller for my audience?

PP: With the help of a traitor, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) plots to attack the American heartland with a weapon of mass destruction.

CH: Your book, a sociopolitical suspense novel, deals with the realities of today’s life and terrorism. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

PP: I am a retired Army officer with a background in nuclear weapons. After retiring from the military, I spent an additional fifteen years in the defense industry. In both army and corporate jobs, I was involved in numerous classified, as well as, unclassified projects that dealt with the security of our country. Knowing the terrorists want to attack the U.S. with a nuclear type device, I drew on my military and corporate experiences to come up with the relevant, timely, and realistic story.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

PP: I always do research on my books. Even if I have done something in real life a hundred times, I will still do research on it when I put it in a story. I want the story to be realistic. I want my readers to walk away and ask themselves, “What was real, and what was fiction?”

From the feedback I have received, I have accomplished that.

CH: Since this book is about recovering stolen nuclear weapons, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

PP: I think every author has challenges. I had to ensure nothing I wrote was classified and that it was close to reality. I was able to find through open sources those items I needed for the story.  Not too many years ago, I couldn’t make that statement. I probably couldn’t even write the story the way I did, as it would be classified. My background was an asset in writing this story. I have always heard, “write about what you know.” So, I did.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

PP: I make my stories very realistic, and I write through the eyes of someone that has experienced many of the places, events, and situations. In Six Minutes Early, terrorists with the help of an ex-Special Forces Officer, steal man-packed nuclear weapons from a classified site in Panama. Man-packed nuclear weapons are real. Terrorists are real and want to attack the heartland. My writing is realistic and usually contains things that have actually happened. There are challenges and I fill in the pieces.

My stories are fast-paced and keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

PP: All of the characters are different and I have to keep them separate, then stay true to the character.  I would say that Danya Mayer was the hardest.  I’m a male and she is female. She had to be a believable female character, as well as, a professional from Mossad. It was a challenge to get her thoughts, actions, and what she might say to be believable.

FBI Special Agent Gail Summers was another, “tuffer ‘n woodpecker lips,” female. She is a professional that matured in the man-dominated world of the FBI. Gail was patterned after a real female FBI agent.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

PP: I enjoyed writing all of the characters, because they were all different. Probably, Max Kenworth was the most fun. He was quiet, resourceful, and skilled. He had to navigate through the politics of the different agencies and the personalities of the women he worked with to accomplish his mission.

I also had fun writing the terrorists. They were a different bunch. Aside from the Muslim terrorists, there were several Americans working for them.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

PP: In a way they were all hard to write because they were all different and had different agendas. Probably, the terrorist were the hardest.  They don’t think like Westerners. So, when one of those characters was in the scene, I had to think like I envisioned them to think. They spoke and used mannerisms the way I imagined them to do.  They were a challenge, but also fun.

CH: Since this book is full of suspense, action, and intrigue, do you prefer writing books with a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs?

PP: Yes, I think that adds to the suspense. This is especially true if it is realistic and contains real things or events. Real life is that way. The protagonist must overcome a situation to succeed. In Six Minutes Early, Max Kenworth, the protagonist, is facing an equally capable antagonist, Bart Madison. Max must draw on every bit of his experience, but Bart manages to stay one step ahead of him. Max is not only challenged by his adversary, but his allies, as well. As the clock ticks away, egos of those he must work with in the U.S. Government Agencies become hostile roadblocks to him completing his mission. All of the twists and turns, ups and downs, in this book keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

PP: They should feel satisfied that their time was well spent. I want a reader continue to ask, “What was real and what was fiction?” My goal is to entertain them. I want the reader to walk away knowing that I write a good book and that I have worked hard to eliminate errors. The next time they buy one of my books, they will know it will be a great ride!

I didn’t really plan to convey a message when I started Six Minutes Early, but one did emerge. The U.S. is vulnerable to an attack, much as I described. There are some people that do have a hand in our security that will do whatever is necessary to get a “gold star” on their report. Often, there are those in charge that don’t have the necessary skills to be in the position they are thrust into. Also, there are those that will readily prostitute themselves for a piece of the limelight. This is the real world we live in today. I hope the reader will ask: “What is real, how vulnerable are we, and what is the real motivation of those in charge?”

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

PP: It has all been great! Here are a few snippets: “…high tension, rapid-paced, edge-of-your-seat ride….” “A thriller with unmatched suspense!” “Six Minutes Early is full of suspense, action and intrigue.” “This book is the real deal.” “He’s pulled off an international thriller without leaving the sexy bits.” “I enjoyed every minute reading about the story and the characters…”  “I enjoyed Patrick Parker’s nail-biting adventure written from a vast store of military and weaponry experience. Six Minutes Early has an immensely authentic and frightening theme that one might fear could be read flashing across the screen as a FOX news Special Alert.”

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?

PP: From a lot of places: people, events, and history. Usually, something happens and that has a relationship to something else. I take a ‘what if’ approach. That gets me going.

I get my ideas from either history or something that has happened. A fiction writer could not make up what has been happening in the news over the last several years. Some of it is hard to believe. It is fantastic fodder for a writer and I take advantage of it. I have gleaned several ideas from what has been in the news, which makes my stories, although, fiction, more believable. I think my readers love it!

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

PP: Good question. Several authors inspired me. Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John Le Carré, and, of course, Tom Clancy. They are all great suspense storytellers and I like their style and topics. I’d probably have to say Ken Follett would be my top choice.

CH: What is your favorite espionage book? And why?

PP: Another good question. Each of my favorite authors have a lot of great books. My favorite would probably be, Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. The story is set during the World War II era, just before the Normandy invasion. The master spy, code name, ‘Needle’ was the object of one of the most desperate manhunts in history. I like that era in our history and the way Follett writes the story kept me on the edge of my seat.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

PP: My journey as a writer started out as a challenge. I was traveling a lot and I would usually pick up a book to read on the plane. After two books in a row, I complained to my wife how poorly the books were written with various errors. They were published by big name, traditional publishing houses. When I said I could write a better book, she said, “Well, do it.” I wrote Treasures of the Fourth Reich. I had fun writing it and achieved my goal.

With the success of my first book, I decided to write War Merchant. It turned out great, then next I wrote Six Minutes Early. All three have received four and five star reviews.

The first thing is the idea. If it’s something I’m interested in enough to work on for the time it takes to write a book, usually a year or so, I will go on to the next step. I proceed to explore it and then come up with an ending. With the idea (situation) and ending, I then work backwards to get a rough idea of how to get to the end. What must happen, what type of characters are needed to get to the ending. Everything along the way must be believable. Usually, I take something from history, something that really happened and go from there. For example, in Treasures of the Fourth Reich, that story was based on the true Nazi looting of Europe and what could have happened forty-five to fifty years later.

I don’t really plan everything out, but capture the points that will get to the end. Usually, the characters take control and write the story. I just get out of the way.

I do research before and while I’m writing. It could be about a character, place, or event. I try to write so that the reader is constantly asking, “What is real and what is fiction?”

CH: What is your next writing project?

PP: I’m working on a suspense book that has actually turned out to be a sequel to Six Minutes Early. I didn’t originally plan it that way; the characters did it. At the height of the 2016 Presidential election, an attempted coup d’état happened in Turkey. Chaos and turmoil was the norm in the U.S. The election was full of corruption, dirty tricks, and shenanigans. Internationally the U.S. and lame duck President were not respected. So, I took the situation and came up with the idea.

The story is full of suspense, corrupt politicians, murder, treason, terrorists, and all the other makings of a great story. Keep watching for it.

CH:  Can you tell my audience where your books are sold?

PP: My books are available in paperback and Kindle versions through Amazon.

CH: How to Find Patrick Parker:

CH: Any closing remarks?

PP: I can’t think of anything else to add. This has been thorough.

Thank you for interviewing me, Cheryl. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. I would love to hear from your readers and get their comments about my books.

CH: Thank you so much, Patrick Parker, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Patrick Parker and Cheryl Holloway.

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