Mystery author Parker Francis Burns South Carolina town…in his latest thriller! Now that’s a headline to get someone’s attention, eh? Haha! Well, that’s because I definitely wanted you guys to hear about this week’s featured author.
I first met Parker Francis, or Vic DiGenti depending on whatever literary pants he happens to be wearing at the moment, when speaking at an event hosted by the Florida Writer’s Association. During that brief encounter, I sensed he was an author who really knew what he was doing…an author who was definitely going places. And an author I wanted to make sure you guys knew about.
I interviewed him once before when he released his first Quint Mitchell book, Matanzas Bay, which was set smack dab in my own home town of St. Augustine, Florida. You can check out the interview here. So when I heard he had come out with a follow up, I knew I wanted to share it with you. But instead of doing another interview, I asked Vic to write a guest blog post to tell us more about it. So, without further ado, sit back, relax, and discover the ins and outs of how research can truly shape the books we right!
While I sometimes tell people my weird ideas are a result of the strange medication I was taking back in the 60s, many plot lines have developed from research or grown out of a flash of insight.
That was the case with my newest Quint Mitchell Mystery, Bring Down the Furies. This suspense thriller is a follow-up to Quint’s first adventure, Matanzas Bay, which was set in the nation’s oldest city. I’d treated my protagonist badly in the first book. He was tossed into an alligator pit, sustained a concussion, and had his heart broken. Of course, I was following rule #6 in Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules of Writing, in which he states, “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
Aside from his propensity to take a licking and go on ticking, Quint also had an interest in archaeology, as readers learned in Matanzas Bay. I knew the next book would take Quint to another location, and I wanted to find a setting where archaeology might play a small part in a larger mystery, as it did in the first offering.
Skipping through several Internet sites, I located a listing of archaeological projects in the southeast. That led me to the Topper site outside Allendale, South Carolina where Dr. Albert Goodyear has found artifacts made by the pre-Clovis people dating back 16,000 years. He claimed some of the artifacts were found in sediments radiocarbon dated back to at least 50,000 years, which would mean humans inhabited North America long before the last Ice Age. I also learned that some of Dr. Goodyear’s findings were not totally accepted by the scientific community.
Claxons began ringing in my head, and I asked myself what if a Creationist minister feuded with the archaeologist and it boiled over into a tension-filled media circus. Now I felt I was onto something that could explode from a single idea into a longer, more compelling narrative. But this was still a single-minded premise and novels are more complex entities filled with multiple plot points and subplots. In order for Quint to remain busy through 330 pages and for the reader to stay involved, I had to add more layers to the storyline. Research helped again as I probed the idea of setting the book in and around the tiny hamlet of Allendale, SC. The town is located in the SW corner of the state close to the Georgia line and about 75 miles due south of Columbia. I’d never been to Allendale, but I learned that General Sherman’s troops had, and had burned down the original town on their way to Columbia.
This bit of historical news tripped another set of creative neurons (or maybe it really was that strange medication kicking in once again) and the various plot points were coming together. I wanted fire to play a major role in the story, and that led to the idea of a serial arsonist at work in Allendale.
Now the plot was really boiling. But I needed to transport Quint from Jacksonville Beach to Allendale in order to immerse him in the sadistic kettle of violence brewing in my evil head. This is where the “Heartthrob Bandit” comes into play. Ricardo “Ricky” DeAngelis is a suave con man who preys on wealthy elderly women. Quint is hired by one of DeAngelis’ victims to track him down and retrieve some property he’d stolen. Since Quint’s an ace tracker of bad guys and lost property, he locates him in Allendale, SC.
Of course, Ricky eludes Quint until the very end of the book. In the meantime, Quint blunders into the growing dispute between the minister and the archaeologist, while also making himself the target of the arsonist. And to add a little more spice to the plot, there’s another love interest for Quint to pursue, as if he doesn’t have enough on his plate.
As I wrote in the Author’s Note at the end of the story, “Pursuing the Heartthrob Bandit to my version of Allendale provided Quint Mitchell the proper setting for a thrilling mystery: a small town with a fiery history, a long memory and a nearby archaeological site. All the elements were in place for mayhem and murder.”
Some of my early readers have been very kind. Bestselling thriller author Steve Berry had this to say, “Another terrific outing for Parker Francis, who definitely delivers what readers want. He’s a powerhouse storyteller and a welcome addition to the thriller genre. Hang on tight and remember to breathe.”
And Deborah Sharp, author of the Mace Bauer Mysteries, wrote, “I’m wild about Bring Down the Furies, the second Quint Mitchell Mystery. With a finely drawn Southern setting and a crackling good plot, author Parker Francis offers up a riveting page turner.”
Visit www.parkerfrancis.com to read an excerpt of Bring Down the Furies, or visit the Amazon.com page to purchase either the print or Kindle edition of the book.
(Parker Francis is the pen name of author Vic DiGenti, a fulltime writer and part time dreamer.)
Thanks Vic…er, Parker…nom du plumes can be so confusing! lol Looking forward to reading the next Quint Mitchell Story!
And friends, I can’t recommend these books enough. Why not go out and download a copy today? Sounds like a great mystery to me! Here’s the link once again to the Amazon page: Bring Down the Furies.