7 Deadly Questions with author Richard Jay Parker

Written by R.A. Evans:

1. Ever since I finished your chilling thriller STOP ME I’ve been afraid to open my email. Please share the basics of your plot and the inspiration for your dark and twisted tale.

Thanks. So glad it made you nervous about chain email letters. I’ve always thought them to be pretty sinister. The idea that something unpleasant could happen if you don’t forward one to ten people has always struck me as being the cyber equivalent of a gypsy curse. Ruminating on something grisly happening when the email isn’t forwarded was the starting point for STOP ME.

STOP ME begins with such an email chain letter sent by the notorious Vacation Killer. It describes a girl and must be forwarded. If it ends up back in the killer’s inbox he won’t slit her throat. Nobody takes it seriously until the polished jawbone of a prostitute is sent to the police. The missing prostitute fits the description in the email.

In the UK, Leo Sharpe receives such an email but deletes it. Weeks later his wife, Laura, vanishes after only stepping out to the restroom.

John R Bookwalter claims to be the Vacation Killer and runs a website based around his delusion. He’s never left the state of Louisiana and the Vacation Killer has killed around the globe. He’s dismissed by the police as a crank but tells Leo he has Laura. She disappeared in London and the Vacation Killer was suspected because an email was circulated describing her. However, her remains were never sent to the police and Leo wonders why – did the email get back to the Vacation Killer’s inbox?

But as everyone around Leo gives up on Laura ever being found Bookwalter is the only person talking about her in terms of her still being alive. A bizarre internet relationship ensues and Bookwalter comes up with the most plausible theory of how she was abducted.

Leo has to decide whether he should accept Bookwalter’s invitation to fly to New Orleans to find out if there’s any truth in what he’s saying. That’s what the title STOP ME refers to – more than the emails. It’s about being drawn submissively into something you know you shouldn’t. It’s a story with a major twist and Leo is led down a lot of dark alleys before he finds out what really happened to Laura.

2. Your protagonist, Leo Sharpe, is truly just an average Joe who has been thrust into unbelievable circumstances. Talk to me about the challenge of making his ordeal, and the lengths he goes to in search of his wife, believable.

I’m glad you picked up on that. I thought using a pedestrian as the main character would allow the reader to empathise with him more than if he was a cop. I wanted to explore the impact that having somebody close to you vanish would have. In some ways it’s worse than bereavement. Your life can’t continue because you constantly wonder if that person is alive and suffering somewhere. Leo has lost his career and makes ends meet as a security guard and lives in the museum of his previous life – afraid to take down the Christmas tree that he’d decorated the day Laura vanished. He’s also living in a limbo of night shifts and further removing himself from reality with prescription drugs.

I explored this existence as much as I could without it restraining the plot. It’s fascinating territory – the idea of suddenly waking because you feel your wife is still alive somewhere.

3. I have your book trailer for STOP ME parked in the Trailer Park here in my blog and it’s been one of the most highly viewed. From your perspective, what is the value of producing a book trailer when you release a title?

Obviously with this being my debut every stage of promotion has been trial and error but I did get a strong reaction to the trailer and people are still finding and commenting on it. Unless you have a respectful budget I think simplicity is definitely the key. I was lucky enough to have a friend, Dave Carr, who wrote the music for my website and the trailer and a lady friend who agreed to be tied up and photographed. An average day in my household…

Authors certainly have to put themselves out there to promote their work. The Kindle and ebook editions of STOP ME are available on June 6th so I’ve been trying to generate some fresh interest. I’ve had a great reponse to the forthcoming ebook release. A lot of readers (particularly in US) have been waiting for it. It’s thanks to the generosity and time of writers like yourself that the Vacation Killer can reach even more readers.

4. Talk to me about your writing process. Are you an organized writer or more of what I refer to as a “fly by the seat of your pants” writer?

I had the opening and the twist in mind when I started writing STOP ME but enjoyed sending my character down some shadowy byways on the way. Some writers I know assemble a very detailed plan of their book which is almost half a novel long but I don’t work that way. I usually write a chapter, polish it and then move onto the next.

5. STOP ME was shortlisted for the 2010 John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award. Not a bad way to make your debut. What was that experience like?

I didn’t get into the last four and attend the TV award ceremony but to be given that level of recognition with my debut was a massive boost particularly in the throes of trying to write book 2.

6. What’s on your bookshelf at home?

I’ve got a very eclectic bookshelf . FALLING ANGEL by William Hjortsberg, THE THIRD POLICEMAN by Flann O’Brien, CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess, THE WASP FACTORY by Ian Banks – Poe, Lovecraft, Palahniuk. I think there’s some thrillers there too.

7. How can readers learn more about you?

You can visit my website, connect with me on Twitter @Bookwalter or find me on Facebook.

For readers who want the book outside the UK, Book Depository do a great shipping deal – anywhere in the world for free: You can also check out prices and reader reviews on Amazon

About Richard

I worked in TV for fifteen years as a script writer, script editor and producer before turning my hand to penning dark thrillers. I was born and live in the UK (formerly South Wales then London and now near Stonehenge) but love visiting the US which is why I used both countries as a backdrop for the story.

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