Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego Author T. Jefferson Parker Out With Second Thriller In Series

The cover of "Swift Vengeance" by T. Jefferson Parker is pictured.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House
The cover of "Swift Vengeance" by T. Jefferson Parker is pictured.

T. Jefferson Parker's latest series of crime thrillers is set firmly in, on and around San Diego.

In the second book in the series, featuring private investigator Roland Ford, it’s not just the landmarks, but San Diego’s real connections to the 9/11 attacks and the war on terror that drives the fast-paced plot in "Swift Vengeance."

Parker is a New York Times bestselling author and a three-time Edgar award winner.

Parker joins Midday Edition on Wednesday to talk about the inspiration for "Swift Vengeance."

San Diego Author T. Jefferson Parker Out With Second Thriller In Series
San Diego Author T. Jefferson Parker Out With Second Thriller In Series GUEST: T. Jefferson Parker, author, “Swift Vengeance”

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh. Some San Diego based authors write about far off locales their plots could take place anywhere but not to Jefferson Parker. His new series of crime thrillers are set firmly in on and around San Diego. This time out it's not just the landmarks but San Diego's real connections to the 9/11 attacks and the war on terror that drives the fast paced plot. Take Jefferson Parker is a new York Times best selling author and a three time Edgar Award winner. He'll be taking part this week in the San Diego Union Tribune Festival of Books. His new book is called SWIFT vengeance. And Jeff welcome to the program. Thank you. Now private investigator and former Marine Roland Ford is back as your protagonist and he finds himself deeply involved in trying to stop a terrorist's revenge. Can you give us a quick overview of the plot. I can. It's one of those stories that evolves from the hero's heart he tries to help a friend an old friend has received a mysterious very upsetting death threat in the mail a handwritten note. And this woman doesn't know what to do with it. She doesn't know whether to believe and throw it away or run for cover and she takes it to Rowland who recognizes the threat behind it. This woman is a former drone pilot. She was flying missions out of Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas up until recently many of whom the the missions took place in the Middle East. So Roland sees a connection in this threat and perhaps in Lindsay's past as a pilot a drone pilot and proceeds from there to team up with a woman he knows on San Diego's FBI and work towards solving this threat if you will. And of course things expand beyond the threat because it's a thriller. Now you remind us and this book of the role San Diego played the very beginnings of this age of terror as the place where several 9/11 hijackers trained. That fact is not widely remembered is it. Well you know that is the question that kind of animates the book and a lot of ways and it's a question that I want to answer and I think it depends who you talk to. But to my eyes San Diego has kind of forgotten if you will that that connection in that link. But if you talk to the FBI a San Diego FBI as I have. Boy they haven't forgotten it. So there's yeah there's this public dichotomy this kind of casual amnesia that we all have as as citizens as San Diego and especially because it's such a relaxing and beautiful place to live. In some ways and this fact that we were touched so wickedly and so closely by those terrorists just prior to 9/11 swift vengeance is the second book in this series where your characters they have to deal with the consequences or the blowback from their actions in the war on terror. Why do you want to explore that theme. You know I think the world I know my world changed hugely. 9/11 I'll never forget that morning of course none of us will. But I think just beyond the personal experience of being shocked and having your world kind of rattled around you it changed it changed the globe in in in every way and I think that was the deciding moment of our time. And I think concomitantly that the stories of our fighting deployed men and women throughout the world in response to the 9/11 attacks which are still going on. Our our duties are abroad everywhere. That's the defining story of our time I think. And so I want to write about it. I think it's really important to remember and acknowledge the great cost of what our fighting men and women pay how much they pay and how much that changes their world forever. And sure there are heroes who come home to know parades and happiness and all that but I think every every one of them is thinking about the cost of what they've done and it'll it'll be with them. You know we don't we don't dismiss things lightly. Even the even the brave young men and women who come back who have post-traumatic stress but no disorder. I mean you have to have stress if you've been through that. So I respect them immensely and I try and my writing to at least acknowledge the burden that they carry without being hideous of them. I don't pity them. I respect them. Now I know that you spent time with veterans from Camp Pendleton. What do you hear from them that you want to put in your books. You know it's so wide and I get so many funny responses. I go out there now and again to teach kind of informal writing classes seminars for young Marines who are coming back and I get all sorts of questions you know I get you know how do I how do I write for Hollywood. I think I want to write movies. You know I go Well I don't know. I write novels. I'll tell you a little bit about what little I know about that. It's just amazing to me all the time the breadth of experience that they have and versus the how young they are. You know I'm always shocked to find myself talking to a 19 year old who has just come back from combat in Afghanistan. Wow. How much of the character of and forward have you developed from your interactions with real life Marines. I play that up kind of big in the role and forward books he's a former Marine. He was in first Fallujah. He's he's also a former San Diego County sheriff's deputy. But his his role in the war and what he did in the war I've written explicitly about but not a lot in these books and I think I'm going to be getting into that in the future more I think. I think Roland's experience in the war is is going to come out more. It gives him certainly an inside track on these characters that he's come across in the first two books. They're both Air Force pilots actually. So Roland's experience in the military opens up that world to him and I'm going to write about that more if you live in San Diego. You kind of can't avoid it. I want to ask you a question about the craft of what you do. The reviews of swift vengeance remark about how fast paced this thriller is. What's the most difficult part of maintaining that kind of pacing in a book. I have a tendency to say things twice or sometimes three times and my editor is great at that he goes No Jeff once is enough and he's right you know and whether that's just a phrase that repeats or whether it's something bigger where where you lay and you know the foundations of a back story a big long passage say and then you come back to that back story again 100 pages later and sort of retell it. You know you don't retell it you advance it. And the difference between the two is hugely important so in terms of craft being economical with your language I think it's important. And being almost abrupt with the plot I think is really good. I think it's I think it's really good to go from one scene to another swiftly and without too much ritual. Now you'll be one of the featured authors at the San Diego festival of books this week. What kind of feedback do you get from San Diego. About the hyper local settings of your book. It's interesting you know most San Diego is like the fact that I set books in San Diego and they like the way that I write about San Diego even though some bad things happen here. Which is the same thing in my orange county audience. You know I was an orange county writer decades ago before I even moved here. And same thing in Orange County you know people like reading about where they live and they'll generally cut you a little bit of leeway about well here you know we don't have serial killers like that. They told me in Laguna you know and they don't know but it was to. It was an entertaining novel. Also in San Diego. But people will not will not put up with San Diego's Orange County anybody you're talking to. They will not put up with mistakes in cars or guns. Those two things if you get it wrong are not quite right you're going to hear about it. You're going to hear about it T.J. Jefferson Park we'll be speaking about his book swift vengeance at Warwick's tomorrow night. And at the San Diego Union Tribune Festival of Books at Liberty Station this Saturday. Jeff thank you so much. Thank you. Great talking.

Parker will be discussing his book at Warwick's in La Jolla on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and at The San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books at Liberty Station on Saturday.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.