Richard Jay Parker
Richard Jay Parker
When an author is being hyped up, you always want to know what makes them tick, and so it was for Gareth who reviewed Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker. Here are his answers.
Gareth: How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
Richard: I've always suspected there's something sinister about chain emails. You never know who it's come from and who it's going to. Also the idea of the recipient being cursed if they don't forward it to ten friends is pretty skewed. I just took that idea to its extreme - what if someone were to die if the email isn't forwarded?
Gareth: What persuaded you write the story as a novel rather than a screenplay?
Richard: I think the book is pretty filmic but writing it as a novel offered up more opportunities to examine the insidious nature of Bookwalter and his online dialogues with Leo. The reader can pore over his dense text a little more - particularly when he describes the specific details of how he kidnapped Laura.
Gareth: When you wrote the novel did you always know how it was going to end, or did it change throughout the process?
Richard: I did know how it was going to end but there were some incidental strands that I hadn't planned. The whole situation in New Orleans was one I kept trying to confound the reader with so they never quite know if Bookwalter is a fake or not.
Gareth: What kind of research did you do?
Richard: I went to New Orleans for Mardis Gras some years ago. It's a fascinating backdrop but many elements of it are well documented. What I don't think has been covered before though is the stench of the place after the party is over. This seemed like an ideal atmosphere for Leo who spends all of the book in a drug, limbo hangover from his previous life.
Gareth: I notice that you have produced a short film about an internet relationship - is the internet of particular interest to you?
Richard: I think the Internet is a great subject for movies and books because nobody really fully understands it and the impact it's had on people's lives and their privacy. For a person to be able to inveigle their presence into a home thousands of miles away is quite an unsettling concept.
Gareth: What TV shows have you written and/or produced?
Richard: I wrote a lot of comedy for BBC and ITV - Jo Brand, Hale and Pace, Simon Pegg - the whole gamut. Was also a script editor and producer.
Gareth: Do you see the internet as having a positive or negative effect on society?
Richard: Both - it's a tool and like every new technology it's capable of enhancing lives as well as being open to abuse. I'd hate to live without it now though.
Gareth: What do think of the new cult of celebrity - especially those centred around the "Reality" TV celebs?
Richard: It's a perverse culture which does well in the UK because we're very much obsessed with the underdog. As soon as the underdog moves beyond that status, however, we revel in their downfall. It's the key down the car mentality - we loathe real success and talent. Which is good news because we have less and less of it on our TV screens now.
Gareth: Who has influenced you the most in your life?
Richard: I think you're the product of the people around you - family, friends as well as becoming your own version of the people you aspire to.
Gareth: Who are your favourite authors and why?
Richard: The list is endless because I read different authors rather than focussing on one writer's works. The last book I read was by Matt Beynon Rees (The Bethlehem Murders) Anything subversive scores high with me - Chuck Palahniuk, Anthony Burgess, Bret Easton Ellis...
Gareth: Who or what has been your biggest influence in writing?
Richard: Difficult to pin down. My decision and determination to write is a product of all the good books - as well as the bad books - I've read.
Gareth: Do you have a specific routine when writing?
Richard: I tend to circle work for as long as the day will allow and then have a concentrated burst of energy. I don't ever give myself a page goal.
Gareth: How do you overcome writers block?
Richard: I've had days when the page seems to be a hundred feet long but no protracted bouts of.. erm. Sorry, don't know how to finish this.
Gareth: Are you now writing your next book and do you have a different theme for it?
Richard: It's another stand alone thriller with Internet elements - although the basis of the story is more about secrets that have to be confronted. There's a different character dynamic in this one though and I think it's got the edge on STOP ME.
Gareth: What is your philosophy in life?
Richard: Positive energy. They say there are two sorts of people in the world - radiators and drains. I try to be the former although it's a tougher job than the other.
Gareth: What is the last thing you think of before you go to sleep at night & the first thing you think of when you wake up?
Richard: If I'm writing then I usually have an unresolved strand or plot device that needs fermenting overnight. When I wake the next morning - presto - it's still unresolved.