Monday, August 7, 2017

Interview with Robert Parker Author of A Wanted Man

Robert Parker is a new exciting voice, a married father of two, who lives in a village close to ManchesterUK. He has both a law degree and a degree in film and media production, and has worked in numerous employment positions, ranging from solicitor’s agent (essentially a courtroom gun for hire), to a van driver, to a warehouse order picker, to a commercial video director. He currently writes full time, while also making time to encourage new young readers and authors through readings and workshops at local schools and bookstores. In his spare time he adores pretty much all sport, boxing regularly for charity, loves fiction across all mediums, and his glass is always half full.

His latest book is the crime/thriller, A WANTED MAN.



It’s a pleasure to have you here today, Robert. Can you tell us what your new book is about?

Firstly, it’s a pleasure to be here. ‘A Wanted Man’ is about an ex-soldier breaking out of prison to right the wrongs that put him there. It seeks to provide an answer to all sorts of questions about what happens when your duty is deemed complete – what do you do when you’re trained only in war, but you’re not needed any more? How do you fit back in? Can you fit back in? What happens when you go home?

It’s a series of questions that a great many people in the UK and USA have had to deal with in recent years with the withdrawal of forces from Iraq and then Afghanistan. Then I take it one step further, in
the context of the political climates of both countries – what happens if you have sacrificed everything in the defense and service of your nation, only to be sent home to a country that you barely recognize anymore? How would that make you feel? These are real questions I wanted to explore answers to, in a dramatic story.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Ben Bracken is our protagonist - an ex-captain of Her Majesty’s Royal Army. He was dishonorably discharged after the death of a colleague, and sent home in disgrace. His main problem (among many!) is that he feels his duty isn’t over, and he takes matters into his own hands to tackle the criminal underbelly of his home city, Manchester. His parents have abandoned him, he’s dirt in the eyes of his colleagues, he is rudderless and alone – a dangerous combination when you consider that all he has known is a life on the frontline.

He meets with an old friend, Jack Brooker, whose own father has died in mysterious circumstances. Jack looked after Ben’s money while he was in prison, and in return, Ben agrees to help Jack find out who killed his father. The Jack Ben finds now is far different to the one he knew before prison – gone is the carefree kid with the world at his feet, and he’s now jaded, saddened, bitter and hell-bent. The intervening years, since Ben last saw him, have changed him immeasurably.

Your book is set in Manchester, UK.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

The location of the story was very important to me, in that I wanted it to feel authentic, and have that truthful, detailed air that would encourage readers to buy into. Manchester is my home city, and one that I have spent countless days in, so I felt comfortable that my words on Manchester would ring true. I love it, and love its evolving place in history, from its Roman occupation as Mamucium, in 79 AD, right through to its high standing in modern business with 64 of the top 100 UK companies based just in one of the city’s commercial hubs, Spinningfields – and everything in between, like the Peterloo Massacre, its weight in textiles in the Industrial Revolution, the birth of socialism with Karl Marx’s residence there, and the various worldwide bands to emerge from its streets. Its an ever-changing metropolis with a soul all its own, and is a place I felt utterly perfect in which to set a story.

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

It’s the moment that I think unmoors Ben the most – when he returns to his childhood home, to check on his parents wellbeing, and he finds the house empty. They have moved, haven’t told him where they are going, and have abandoned him in full. It took me ages to write this part, and it went through many incarnations before it felt right – but I had to take the time because I feel this part is so important. It’s the moment you invest your sympathy in Ben and his plight, and it’s the moment I think most readers will find themselves siding with him for good, despite what he gets up to. At least that’s what I hope!

What has been the most pivotal point of your writing life?

There’s been a number of times when I look backwards and think ‘yep, that was massive’, but I’m a forward thinking guy – there’s more to come, so I’ll certainly say that more great moments are in the future. Up to this point, for sure, I’d go with that first conversation with my agent Linda Langton. She showed passion for my work immediately, and after all sorts of very varied responses up to that point, it was a real shot in the arm and a huge turning point in terms of motivation and direction.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Just write the story you want to write, and have a great time doing it. Your own passion will shine through. Writing can be wonderful, daunting, thrilling, scary, liberating, confessional, but above all make sure you enjoy it. Trust yourself, have fun, and write the kind of thing you’d love to read.

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