Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Midday Edition

Author T. Jefferson Parker Out With New Thriller Series

The cover of "The Room of White Fire" by T. Jefferson Parker.
Courtesy Photo
The cover of "The Room of White Fire" by T. Jefferson Parker.

New York Times bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker is out with a thriller that is the first in a new series for the author.

In "The Room of White Fire," private investigator Roland Ford is hired to locate Air Force veteran Clay Hickman who escaped from a mental health facility in San Diego County.

Parker, a Fallbrook resident, set his new thriller in the county. Parker features KPBS prominently in the book including a character named Nell Flanagan based on KPBS Midday Edition host, Maureen Cavanaugh.


On Tuesday's Midday Edition, Parker discussed why the book is set in the county and his inspiration for the book.

Parker will be speaking at Warwick's in La Jolla on Wednesday and at the San Diego Festival of Books on Saturday.

Author T. Jefferson Parker Out With New Thriller Series
Author T. Jefferson Parker Out With New Thriller Series GUEST:T. Jefferson Parker, author, "The Room of White Fire"

This is Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh.It has been said that the wars are unique because no one but the U.S. military has experienced a real sense that we are a nation at war. A new novel is out about the profound and lingering injuries suffered by those who fought and are fighting in the war on terror. A dark secret about the war is at the heart of this thriller by New York Times bestseller, T. Jefferson Parker. Joining the is the author of the book, "The Room of White Fire".Welcome to the program.Thank you.Reporter: The novel revolves around a veteran that suffers a moral injury. What kind of injury is that?It's a subset of posttraumatic stress disorder. It focuses not so much on things that befell the men and women but things that men and women do as opposed to being a victim. For instance, it would be understandable how you can get PTSD having your Humvee hit and IED and losing your commander. But if you are in that vehicle and you are unable to pull out your commander, that's the subset we are talking about. Moral injury as opposed to physical injury.We hear about this veteran at the center of your novel, Clay Hickman. He escapes from a mental health facility and the chase is on.Yes. Roland Ford is the PI hired to find this disturbed young man. He goes AWOL and Rowland has defined him. Half of it is catching up with Clay Hickman to figure out what he's up to. He clearly has an agenda.It is gradually revealed in "The Room of White Fire" that Clay Hickman has some devastating truths to reveal. How much research did you do to construct this story and how much of it is true?I did a lot of research. Research isn't like a used to be when I started writing 30 years ago. Now you can go online and see real-time combat footage. You can place your himself there as a researcher so easily. I did a lot of research. The foundation for a lot of the book was the huge 1500 page excerpt from the intelligent committee report on torture published two years ago. That was my Bible.Reporter: You mentioned the new private investigator in this series you are starting -- Roland Ford -- how do you see him ?I make him up one book at a time. This is the first one he has appeared in. He's 38. A big guy. A former Marine. In Navy brat -- he has lived around a bit. Former sheriff's deputy. Former professional boxer. Now as we intercept him he is a widower and he has become a private investigator, licensed and certified. His specialty is locating missing people.We find that he has a well-defined ethical sense?Yes, he's an ethical man. He is skeptical and not sarcastic but he doesn't suffer fools. He does have good moral fortitude. For me as a writer there are plenty of flawed characters out there and plenty of heroes with dark side. That's fine and good but for me as a writer a hero must again with an outraged moral sense because that's the way we should live our lives.I think one of the enjoyments that people must get from reading your books, aside from the fact that they are best sellers, is that San Diego plays an important part in the novel. Do you enjoy writing about San Diego?Yes. Moved here from Orange County 17 years ago. In those 17 years I have written 13 books. Most of them are set in San Diego. Whether it's orange county or LA or San Diego where the setting is, I draw a huge amount of inspiration from this place. As a reader I love it -- I like it done well.Living and writing in San Diego gives me a chance to write about what I know and what I love and what I see around me. It's a treat.Reporter: The last novel that we talked about was full measure -- not a thriller, but a veteran from the war in Afghanistan. Why are you drawn to tell these stories of the vets?For my money, our United States involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Middle East is the definitive story of our American times for the past couple of decades. I think it is vastly important. I think in a weird way that the world of war is are to understand as a person. You can read about it and hear about it but to bring some dramatic light to it and some power to it you must talk to the people who were there. I have done a lot of that because I live in Fallbrook next door to Camp Pendleton. I have seen the Marines coming and going from the war. Since the day I moved in. Back in 2013 I broke down and wrote about a specific guy -- the full measure. I have written a lot of other books involving veterans. Their stories are important. I admire them immensely for what they have done.President Trump just announced an extended military commitment in Afghanistan and we still have troops in Iraq and the jail and wonton on the Bay houses detainees. Yet, as I said in the beginning this ongoing conflict really doesn't register with most of America. Do you think that is a moral injury we are all suffering from?The inability to absorb the reality?Reporter: Yes, to make it a part of our lives and to know these things are being done.I think so. That's the supreme privilege of the citizen -- to let their young men and women take care of things and not really give it any more thought the necessary. So, when you see the headline -- increasing by 4000 is people will say no big deal.Reporter: T. Jefferson Parker will speak tomorrow at Warwick's in La Jolla and this weekend at the San Diego Festival a book -- a book.It was a pleasure.Thank you.