Interview with Author Parker Francis
Our featured author today is Parker Francis, author of “The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover“, a short story in The Prometheus Saga. “The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover” is available for FREE on Kindle today, so be sure to download your copy!
Welcome, Parker. Tell us, what inspired you to launch / join the Alvarium Experiment?
Ken Pelham contacted me prior to the 2014 FWA Conference to ask if I’d be interested in joining other writers in a what he said was “a cool idea” called The Alvarium Experiment. I’m always open to cool ideas and asked for more details. Ken sent me two working papers I call the Prometheus Bible, an incredibly well thought-out concept with a spec sheet and working arrangement for the consortium of writers. Ken and Charles Cornell had obviously given this a lot of thought, and I was both impressed and intrigued. Though I didn’t write SF, I spent much of my wasted youth reading the masters of SF and fantasy. And when Ken said they were looking for writers of all genres, I jumped aboard the Alvarium bandwagon.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of writing “into” an existing framework for Prometheus as a character? How did that shape your creative process for your story? Is it different from your usual writing process?
The benefits far outweighed the challenges since I became part of a beehive of awesomely talented people and the ideas flowed continuously. Having a framework in place provided some structure, the challenge was how to fit my story—whatever that turned out to be—into the framework, and best utilize the Prometheus character to shed light on my story. I decided early on not to concentrate wholly on Prometheus, or any of the superhuman abilities of the alien probe, but to create a character shaded in mystery, acting in a way to cause my protagonist to question the nature of what he/she observed, and also cause some change in that character’s life. Not surprisingly for a writer who has long-established patterns for writing (go ahead and say it, I’m a creature of habit and set in my ways) but the process turned out to be about the same as how I approach my other writing projects. I came up with a “What if” idea, noodled on it, researched it, sketched out some plot points, and created a rough outline before jumping on my computer—which is done with extreme caution since Duke, my golden tabby and sometime editor, likes to cuddle on the keyboard.
Tell me more about your other work(s).
Although I’ve always considered myself a writer, I didn’t complete my first book until after retirement. And since my wife and I had a house full of cats at the time (that’s another story), it seemed only right that my story should be about cats. That’s how the Windrusher trilogy was born. Windrusher, the feline protagonist, starred in each of the three adventure/fantasy novels. There were mystical threads running through the stories, and I found a good audience among younger readers as well as adults. Each of the three books, Windrusher, Windrusher and the Cave of Tho-hoth, and Windrusher and the Trail of Fire, were traditionally published and won at least one award. While writing the second in the series, I had an idea of how to use one of the characters in a separate story. The character was Quint Mitchell, a private detective who played a major role in that book. Since I was reading a lot of mystery/suspense and thriller novels, I decided I’d give it a try. Writing as Parker Francis, I wrote my first Quint Mitchell Mystery, Matanzas Bay. As an unpublished manuscript, the story won the 2007 Josiah W. Bancroft Award, and was named the Book of the Year in the 2009 Royal Palm Literary Awards competition in the pre-published category. I’ve since written the second in the series, Bring Down the Furies, which won the Gold Medal in the Florida Authors & Publishers Association’s President’s Award Competition. As Parker Francis, I’ve also published the novella, Blue Crabs at Midnight featuring Quint as a young teen, and the short story collection, Ghostly Whispers, Secret Voices. And I digitally published two writing booklets based on some of the craft workshops I’ve done.
For some reason, one of my first thoughts about the Prometheus character was the literary monster Frankenstein. I recalled the title of Mary Shelley’s original story was Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. I wasn’t sure how this would work in a short story, and I certainly didn’t want to make the alien humanoid into a Frankenstein monster, but the Frankenstein idea stuck with me, and I began researching Mary Shelley and how she came to write the book. I found a wealth of information online, and couldn’t have asked for a better starting point. The historical truth was as dramatic as any fiction I could make up since Mary and her soon-to-be husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, spent a summer holiday with none other than Lord Byron in his rented mansion on Lake Geneva. During their stay, they read ghost stories and decided to write their own. Mary wrote in her journal that she had a vivid dream the night before they were to tell their stories (it was reported the creative process might have been helped by the copious amounts of wine they drank, as well as the use of laudanum), and in the dream she saw her Frankenstein monster being created. This was wonderful stuff, and I turned our Prometheus character into an attractive Greek servant girl who also doubled as Lord Byron’s lover.
Here’s the story description for “The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover:” Writing in her journal, Mary Shelley recounts a series of perplexing events during her visit with Lord Byron—a visit that resulted in the creation of her famous Frankenstein novel, but also uncovered a remarkable mystery.
What are your writing plans for 2015? What does the new year hold in store for you?
I’m in the final stages of preparing Hurricane Island, the third Quint Mitchell Mystery, for publication. Once it’s published I’ll do a lot of marketing for the book. I also had Matanzas Bay made into an audio book that will be sold through Audible.com. More marketing. If it sells, I’ll convert the other two books in the series. I’m also doing some minor tweaking of the second and third Windrusher books. My publisher and I parted ways after he changed his business model to nonfiction environmental books, and I got my rights back. I’ve already revised the first book and republished it under my own imprint, Windrusher Hall Press, and will do the same with the other two. I’ve also been plotting a collection of themed short stories I’d like to work on, as well as a trilogy of short novels set in the near future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After a career in broadcasting as a producer/director of public affairs programs and award-winning documentaries, and in the special events arena in which he produced the Jacksonville Jazz Festival for eight years, Vic DiGenti turned to his first love—writing. He found inspiration in his household of cats and wrote three award-winning adventure/fantasies with a feline protagonist.
Writing as Parker Francis, Vic made the leap into the hard-boiled mystery/suspense field and has written two award-winning novels in his Quint Mitchell Mystery series, Matanzas Bay and Bring Down the Furies. A third in the series, Hurricane Island, will be released soon. He’s also published the novella, Blue Crabs at Midnight, and the short story collection, Ghostly Whispers, Secret Voices.
Vic is a frequent speaker at libraries, book festivals, and writers’ conferences. He’s taught writing classes at the University of North Florida, and is the FWA Regional Director for NE Florida coordinating 8 writers’ groups, and has served as Co-Director of St. Augustine’s Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers Conference. He’s also on the Board of the Friends of the Ponte Vedra Library. Visit him at www.parkerfrancis.com
The Prometheus Saga is the premier project of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors.
The Saga spans the range of the existence of Homo sapiens. The stories do not need to be read in any particular order; each story is an entry point into the overall story.
The Prometheus Saga stories & authors are:
“The Pisces Affair” by Daco Auffenorde. CIA operative Jordan Jakes meets Prometheus when the Secretary of State becomes the target of a terrorist attack at a head-of-state dinner in Dubai. Visit Daco at www.authordaco.com.
“On Both Sides” by Bria Burton. When a mysterious woman vanishes during the American Revolution, young Robby Freeman searches for answers from a cryptic sharpshooter who deserted Washington’s Continental Army. Visit Bria at www.briaburton.com.
“Ever After” by M.J. Carlson. Two mysterious women convey the same Cinderella story to Giambattista Basile in 1594 and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1811. How different cultures retell this story reveals humanity’s soul to those who listen. Visit M.J. at www.mjcarlson.com.
“The Blurred Man” by Bard Constantine. FBI agent Dylan Plumm’s investigation of a mill explosion puts her on the trail of the Blurred Man, a mysterious individual who may have been on Earth for centuries. Visit Bard at bardofdarkness.wix.com/bardconstantine.
“Crystal Night” by Charles A. Cornell. Berlin, 1938. On the eve of one of history’s darkest moments, a Swedish bartender working in Nazi Germany accidentally uncovers a woman’s hidden past. Can he avoid becoming an accomplice as the Holocaust accelerates? Visit Charles at www.charlesacornell.com.
“The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover” by Parker Francis. Writing in her journal, Mary Shelley recounts a series of perplexing events during her visit with Lord Byron—a visit that resulted in the creation of her famous Frankenstein novel, but also uncovered a remarkable mystery. Visit Parker at www.parkerfrancis.com.
“Strangers on a Plane” by Kay Kendall. In 1969 during a flight across North America, a young mother traveling with her infant meets an elderly woman who displays unusual powers. But when a catastrophe threatens, are those powers strong enough to avert disaster? This short story folds into Kay’s mystery series featuring the young woman, amateur sleuth Austin Starr. Visit Kay at www.kaykendallauthor.com.
“East of the Sun” by Jade Kerrion. Through a mysterious map depicting far-flung lands, a Chinese sailor in 1424 and a Portuguese cartographer in 1519 share a vision of an Earth far greater than the reality they know. Visit Jade at www.jadekerrion.com.
“Manteo” by Elle Andrews Patt. In 1587, Croatan native Manteo returns from London to Roanoke Island, Virginia. Can he reconcile his strong loyalty to the untamed land and people of his home with his desire for the benefits the colonizing English bring with them before one of them destroys the other? Visit Elle at www.elleandrewspatt.com.
“First World War” by Ken Pelham. 40,000 BC: As the last remaining species of hominid, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, fight a desperate battle for ownership of the future, the outcasts of both sides find themselves caught in middle. Visit Ken at www.kenpelham.com.
“Lilith” by Antonio Simon, Jr. In this retelling of the Adam & Eve story, a hermit’s life is turned upside-down by the arrival of a mysterious woman in his camp. As the story of their portentous meeting carries forward through the millennia, only time will tell if Lilith is a heroine, a victim, or a monster. Visit Antonio at www.DarkwaterSyndicate.com.
“Fifteen Dollars’ Guilt” by Antonio Simon, Jr. 1881: After a close brush with death in a steamship disaster, Prometheus encounters another survivor who gripes about how aimless his life has become. Prometheus helps him find his calling, inadvertently setting in motion the assassination of President Garfield. Visit Antonio at www.DarkwaterSyndicate.com.
Visit the website to view all of the stories: The Prometheus Saga