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San Diego Political Scandals Inspire Parts Of T. Jefferson Parker's Latest Novel

 August 14, 2020 at 10:34 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 We're in the dog days of summer with most activities still closed down, looking at an uncertain future and it's left many of us searching for diversions. There couldn't be a better time for one of San Diego's best known writers to come out with his latest thriller T Jefferson Parker's new novel. Then she vanished weaves San Diego headlines and characters that we almost recognize into an alternate universe of suspense. And once again, Parker's pensive professional, private eye Roland Ford has to sort out all the answers except for himself T Jefferson Parker is a New York times bestselling author and a three time Edgar award winner and Jeff Parker. Welcome back. Oh, nice to be here. Morning now, Roland Ford finds himself mixed up with a politician, a kidnapping, and a lot of chaos this time around what can you tell us about the plot? Speaker 2: 00:56 Yeah, a lot happens in this book, uh, like, like all good thrillers and, and most of my books, there's a lot of, uh, a lot of suspense and a lot of surprise, you know, in the, in the opening scene of the book, Roland is, uh, hired by a California state assemblyman whose wife has gone missing. And this man hires roll into to find her he's a PI and specializes in missing persons from that kind of humble, conventional pie novel beginning the story kind of spins out of control very quickly. And a wee Roland finds himself a way deep over his head. As, as you almost expect him to do Speaker 1: 01:31 Certain East County political scandal seems to have inspired some of the plot for then she vanished. Let's say we have a politician who fought as a Marine in Iraq, finding himself in a campaign finance scandal. How do you gauge how much you can make your characters identifiable and how much you need to fictionalize? Speaker 2: 01:55 You know, it's always a fine line. I generally don't base characters on any one real person. Um, uh, I create, I create kind of composite sketches of, of people from various, uh, people that I know or I've seen on TV or met or interviewed or something. And, uh, in this case, you know, Dalton straight is a, you know, East County politician kind of a hard Scrabble guy. Um, and, and I, I composed him out of various, uh, political families and politicians that I've seen and known operating in this, in this area for, for decades. You know, there's no, there, there there's no, uh, scarcity of quote unquote, uh, you know, corrupt politicians to choose from. So, so Dawn straight is kind of a composite sketch of some people that you may recognize and some people that you want Speaker 1: 02:43 Now, just like the previous three novels in the role in Ford series, the action takes place all over San Diego County. What locations did you explore for this book? Speaker 2: 02:53 Well, Borrego, you know, Borrego Springs, I go down there fairly often, just as a, as a tourist, you know, to see the beautiful, you know, the wild flowers and hike the trails and experience the desert. So I put that in there, you know, um, I've got, uh, I've got a big focus on in this book on the East County out, towards and into Imperial County. Um, I'm kind of fascinated by that rough, uh, hard Scrabble place, you know, the, the rocks and the Hills and the mountains and the heat and the agriculture and the whole, you know, world out there is so different than what you think of when you think of San Diego. And when you read about San Diego paper on TV or the movies or whatever, you know, it's always the sun and the surfers and the, and the beautiful city and America's finest and all that good stuff. And I've written about that plenty, but I wanted to explore the, kind of the, you know, the, the back country, a little bit of East County and Imperial County. And, uh, I had a lot of fun doing that. I hope my enthusiasm for the, for that hard, uh, desert place comes through, because I think it's fascinating to, just to be out there and experience that Speaker 1: 03:56 Saying that this novel captures that really speaks to our current situation is the sense of society at a breaking point. Is that what you were thinking about while you were writing the book because he wrote it before the COVID pandemic, right? Speaker 2: 04:09 I did. And now that exactly is what I was thinking about when I went to write this book, Maureen say it was two years ago and I began it at that time. I, I felt the divisiveness in the country had reached almost a fever pitch. Um, there was so much violence in the air and Las Vegas, you know, the casino shooting in the nightclub in thousand Oaks and just one after another. And it dawned on me that, you know, the schools and the synagogues and the churches in the casinos and the nightclubs, nothing is nothing safe anymore, you know, and that really kind of got to me, and I just felt this kind of free spirited, free, free landing, freeloading, you know, violence in the air. And it really kind of bothered me. And I tried to put some of that into the book and capture these, these divisive and, uh, sort of chaotic times. And that was, that was before COVID. But I had enough foresight to, to set the book in an election year because I realized that we would be right here right now. Uh, my readers would be, you know, looking towards November and probably, you know, arguably one of the most important, uh, presidential elections that we've ever had in this, in this country. And so the book is trying to address politics, violence, divisiveness, and also be a good entertaining read. Speaker 1: 05:19 Wow, that's a large agenda. Now, the book, your new book, then she vanished has just been released and you would normally be going on a book tour. What are you doing? Speaker 2: 05:32 You know, something I'm staying in my little home office here and I'm writing a lot. I've written more pages, more good pages in the past six months since the lockdown than I've ever written in my life. Um, so I, I'm one of the very fortunate who are able to work at home. And I'm also fortunate because at the time that the lockdown came to us here in Fallbrook and in March, I had just begun a book for next year, not a role in Ford's story at all, and nothing to do with, with, with COVID at all, but a 1968 Laguna beach story, a coming of age story about a boy, looking for his older sister who was lost herself in the counterculture, a world of, of 1968 protests and drugs and hippies in, in, in Laguna beach, California. So I'm not only working a lot and writing a lot, but I'm, I've transported myself imaginatively to a world without COVID. And it's, it's kinda my way of avoiding it in a way Speaker 1: 06:31 Everybody has their own way of coping, I think, through this. So this is a remote book tour for you. You can't be there in persons. How are you connecting with your readers and getting feedback on your new book? Speaker 2: 06:43 It's really strange. It's really different. Um, I'm doing a lot of, uh, zoom, video, uh, conferences, I guess you call it with, with readers, um, kind of, uh, open forums, you know, and I'm hearing just, I'm beginning to hear their reactions to the book, but it, it, but it is different and it is strange, and I'm not getting that immediate, you know, sort of bookstore feedback that you, that you get when you're an author sitting at your little table and signing books and people are remarking on, you know, the, the work and what they think about it. So that's, that's all gone. And right now it's these kind of, kind of strange, um, zoom meetings with a bunch of faces on the screen at the same time. And, and you're kind of answering questions and trying to get a feel for how the book is, is, is making people react. Speaker 1: 07:26 I've been speaking with author T Jefferson Parker, his new book is called, then she vanished. He'll be speaking with readers about his new book in a zoom call tonight, sponsored by Laguna beach books. That event starts at 5:00 PM. Jeff Parker. Thank you so much. Speaker 2: 07:43 Thanks for having me on more and you take care.

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T. Jefferson Parker’s new novel "Then She Vanished" weaves San Diego headlines and characters, that we almost recognize, into an alternate universe of suspense.
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