Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello, I’m P.J. Parker and I’m the same age as the characters in my books—everything from 5 up to 97 (so far…).
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally, I am from rural Australianfarmland, surrounded by kangaroos, wombats, emus and echidnas. Oh, and cows, lots of cows. It was a childhood of bailing hay, milking cows, fixing fences and dreaming. A lot of dreaming.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I attained my Architectural degree in Sydney, Australia, which led to a life lived in many different countries around the world through the decades. It has definitely been an interesting life from the jungles of Borneo, the subterranean passages of Istanbul, the garrets of Montmartre, the roof bars and restaurants of New York City,the laneways of Montreux, the lakes and pistes of Switzerland, and the star-crossed sidewalks of Hollywood. At the moment I live and write in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Currently, I am researching and writing the sequel to the paranormal romance FIRE ON THE WATER: A COMPANION TO MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN. There were four who wrote submissions for the famous ghost story competition on the shores of Lake Geneva in the Summer of 1816—Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord George Byron, and his physician, Doctor John Polidori. The first novel in The Companion Series delved into what actually occurred to jolt Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster into existence. The second reveals the catalysts for Polidori’s THE VAMPYRE: A TALE—a Georgian tale which importantly escalated the vampire from a decaying ground-crawler up to the status of blood-sucking gentleman. It is a novel of horror, seduction and above all else, love.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always loved to read and write but it was not until the late nineties that I had a full-length novel that demanded to be written. I had started working with people from a culture I had never before encountered. My response was to research everything I could about them, which led me through several hundred years of history, philosophy, and culture, and resulted in a great love for all things Ottoman Empire. The resulting book was the historic romance ROXELANA AND SULEYMAN. That manuscript has had its own convoluted editing and publishing history as both the original English and Russian versions were published to polarising response. When the rights reverted from the publisher, I was able to fully overhaul the manuscript and re-release the book as I had originally intentioned. Thankfully most readers around the world love it for what it is, a grand fictional romantic saga, and it has been my best-seller ever since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
ROXELANA AND SULEYMAN was more a research and passion project. It was not until I completed my second novel, FIRE ON THE WATER: A COMPANION TO MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN that I considered myself a writer. That work was written in a few weeks and was almost immediately optioned by THE WRITER’S COFFEE SHOP PUBLISHING HOUSE (the original publishers of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY). The whole publishing and editing process was amazing and a complete pleasure.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
ROXELANA AND SULEYMAN was a testament to intense research of a culture and a grand historic romance that intrigued me.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The novel is an interpretation of the romance between Sultan Suleyman Khan the Magnificent—the Shadow of God on Earth—and his Odalisque, Haseki Hurrem, who rose to such power that she wielded the might of her husband and Europe’s largest army across the civilized world. With her rise in influence she became known as Roxelana—the red headed woman who captured the Sultan’s heart and soul.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I will start with comprehensive research but then as soon as I open a fresh word-doc or start the next chapter I allow the characters to draw on that knowledge and tell the story as they wish, to come alive and take me on an adventure and romance that I had never expected. They definitely invade my dreams, honing their story, ensuring that it does not escape my attention. My main challenge is to keep up with their demands.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books are fiction, romance and adventure, built upon a solid basis of research into history, culture, theology, philosophy and romance. My third novel, AMERICA TUWAQACHI: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY, required research of 18,000 years of North American history—archaeological thesis, pre-Columbian oral history, post-Columbian written, audio and visual history—in order to create an adventure that catapults the reader through the millennia. My own life experiences are many and varied and some have woven themselves into each of these stories, but it is the characters who continually surprise me with lives of their own. Lives that I have never experienced or could have thought of without them demanding their actions, emotions and loves to be written.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have travelled and lived extensively around the world and these places have woven themselves into my stories—most notably Switzerland, Turkey and the USA. My in-progress novel (the second in The Companion Series) is set in London and southern England. This required a research trip to confirm the continued existence and feel of several locations important to the sequencingand pace of the work, as well as key catalysts to the twists in the storyline. Any personal interaction can only enrich a story beyond imagination.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I have designed the covers of my novels, selecting or taking the photos (the cover of ROXELANA AND SULEYMAN is a detail of a mural that I photographed within the Harem of Topkapi Palace, Istanbul—the location of the story), designing the front and back layout and then having it professionally formatted per the publisher’s requirements.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Each of my novels has a simplistic message:
ROXELANA AND SULEYMAN: Power and Love.
FIRE ON THE WATER: A COMPANION TO MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN: Trust.
AMERICA TUWAQACHI: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY: Family
As yet untitled sequel toFIRE ON THE WATER: Love.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite authors are Stephen King (UNDER THE DOME, 11/22/63) and Tara Moss (The Makedde Vanderwall series). Mr King knows how to write people and place. He is willing to place them into impossible situations to see how and why they may handle the circumstances they are in. Ms. Moss’s work is fresh and exciting, taking procedural storytelling to a place I have never seen it taken. She is an author of both fiction and important non-fiction works to be reckoned with.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I was assisted immensely by my original publisher THE WRITER’S COFFEE SHOP PUBLISHING HOUSE and my superlative editor HAYLEY GERMAN FISHER.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. At the moment I have a day job in the fraud detection and prevention arena, but one day I hope to segue that career into one that is based solely on my research and writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would have written it sooner, so that I could be in the middle of the next and maybe even the one after that.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I have learnt that I love writing more than most other things in my life. It gives me a sense of purpose, a reason to actually be here and express myself more fully than I am able to by any other medium.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
In The Companion Series (both FIRE ON THE WATER: A COMPANION TO MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN and the in-progress sequel), the stories are set across two distinct timelines that impact on each other as the story evolves: the 1800’s and current day. Rachel Walton is a biographer whose research uncovers more about the past and the catalysts that brought two of the world’s most famous horror stories to life: FRANKENSTEIN, and THE VAMPYRE: A TALE. While writing I have envisioned Emily Blunt as playing the dual roles of Rachel in the current day, and Mary Shelley in 1816. Jake Gyllenhaal is the inspiration for Doctor John Polidori.
AMERICA TUWAQACHI: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY follows a single-family line through 18,000 years of North American history. First and foremost, it is an adventure. It was written so that the main character of each generation follows a single maturing arc that carries right through the novel—growing in age and character through the chapters from five summers old at the beginning of the book (15,999 BC) to forty-two at the end of the book (early twenty-first century). At the time of writing, actor Adam Beach was foremost in mind to play the central character of each generation from at least eighteen on up until the character’s early forties in the last chapter. As there is some cross-overs in generations this would have required him acting against himself as older versions of previous chapter’s/generation’s characters. Even more interesting for the few chapters that included twins.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
The only real advise is that there are no rules while writing other than to be true to yourself in what you write.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Enjoy what you are reading, but if you don’t then put the book away and read another that you will.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading Thomas Harris’s RED DRAGON, and Matthew Reilly’s THE TOURNAMENT. As a younger man,I enjoyed the thrill of Matthew’s SCARECROW and JACK WEST JR. books. I needed to get away from the heavy research titles I had been reading and get lost in an easy-reading adventure. P.S.: Matt, time to write another Professor William Race novel.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first real bookswere BIGGLES books, followed by just about every HARDY BOYS and NANCY DREW novel in existence. The type of heroic adventure that every youngster, boy or girl, needs.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Words and sentences used very well make me laugh, and they make me cry. A happy ending always gets me. Who doesn’t love ahappy ending?
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Most notably Mary Shelley and Doctor Polidori. Their passion for their craft has enhanced my own life more than many.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Working is my hobby, so that I have money to sit down, daydream, research and write.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love films that don’t quite explain themselves, that do not always have a clean resolution, that are able to deceive me but still give immense joy. My favorite movies I have seen this year have been THE CAKEMAKER (Israel), THE INVISIBLE GUEST (Spanish), FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL (British).
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pizza, pâté, pasta, blue, blue, blue, John Williams, John Barry.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read. (Secretly write.)
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would go to Florence, Italy, visit Michelangelo’s DAVID, eat pizza and pasta, and drink a lot of wine. I would also take up painting again. Every minute counts.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
There will be no headstone. Better to have a tree, or better yet a whole forest of trees full of orangutans.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon and AuthorsDB. Hyperlinks to all may be found on my https://about.me/author_pjparker page.
I would love to hear from you. Drop me an email, a comment, or a review.
Additional Facebook pages for each of my books not linked to the above are as follows: