“Mr. May” showed up at the Northumberland Public Library’s “Books Alive!” last Tuesday as author Brad Parks made his fourth annual May appearance.
Jay Walker, former president of the Friends of Library dubbed the writer “Mr. May” after he’d appeared for three Mays running last year and each time having a new book to talk about. This year was no exception as Parks, who lives in Middlesex, was just finishing a national book tour promoting his fourth mystery, “The Good Cop,” and, while he was at it, winning the Lefty Award for writing the best humorous mystery of 2012 with his “The Girl Next Door.” With the Lefty, Parks became the first writer to ever win the Shamus, the Nero and the Lefty. The Shamus is for best detective fiction and the Nero is for the year’s best mystery. Parks won those two with the “Faces of the Gone” in 2010.
Folks have heard about Parks and his appearance packed the library’s meeting room. The audience may have come to hear about book writing but mainly it came to just hear Parks talk. He is serious funny. Talking about seeing people riding bicycles out in Colorado while he was there for the Left Coast Awards recently, he said that in Boulder “they ride for their health. In Newark, where I used to live they bicycles if the couldn’t afford a car. Where I live now, it means they have a DUI.”
Telling about winning the Lefty, Parks said he was on stage with Laura Lippman, a highly regarded mystery writer and actor Lou Diamond Phillips who stars in a TV series based on Lippman’s work was in the audience. Phillips came up and gave Lippman a hug and a kiss. When Parks won the Lefty, he asked if he got a hug, too, and Phillips came back and gave him one. “Then he asked if I wanted a kiss,” Parks said. “I didn’t.”
Instead of a kiss, Parks, who is a fine singer, serenaded Lippman with a song he’d written abour her. He sang it at the library, too.
Turning to his newest book, The Good Cop, Parks said it is the first real fiction he’s written. His earlier books were based on actual events. The Good Cop sprang from a stop at a Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, he said. Being from up North, he was astounded at the number of firearms he saw there and the ease with which they could be bought.”I found out that if you aren’t a felon and are tall enough to get the money on the counter, you can buy a gun,” he said. After that, he decided he’d write a novel premised on illegal gun running to the northern cities and that was the genesis of The Good Cop.
Interspersed with is stories, including meeting “the bad cop” in Chicago when he rear-ended her cruiser, Parks did talk about writing, how he determines his characters, including his hero, Carter Ross, a newspaper writer which Parks was before turning to fiction writing and why he never indicates the actual year of the event in his stories.
Ellen Booker Kirby, current president of the Friends of the Library, noted that the Friends are buying Parks’ and other Virginia authors’ works for a new new Virginia Authors Collection at the library.