Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Q&A with Jake Parent

Jake Parent is the author of Only the Devil Tells the Truth, a novel about a young man growing up in poverty and dealing with addiction. He has used storytelling as a tool for advocacy on several humanitarian projects, most notably his work founding an orphanage and school in Kabul, Afghanistan with Omeid International. He grew up in San Jose, CA but now lives in the Washington, DC area.

    1.       What inspired you to write Cristina?

As the father of a new daughter, I wanted to celebrate the strength and courage I’ve seen in so many women throughout my life. The book is dedicated to single moms, of which Cristina is one. It was a challenge to write a female main character, but my hope is I did women everywhere some justice.

    2.       In a few words, how would you describe this book?

It’s a suspenseful psychological thriller that takes place in a California beach town. There’s a murder mystery and a ton of intrigue. All within a setting and story that explores some of the larger ills of the world we live in.

3.       How would you describe Cristina’s journey in the story?

Cristina has been through a lot. She’s a single mother who comes from poverty. By no means is she perfect, but she has learned a lot on the path she’s traveled, and it’s given her an inner strength most people can only dream of achieving.

4.       What are some of the main issues that you explore in this book and why did you explore them?

Cristina dives deep into drug addiction, domestic abuse, poverty, gentrification, love, trust, and purpose. These are all issues I’ve personally witnessed or dealt with, as a kid and as an adult. I did my best to weave them into a rip-roaring story that will not only entertain people but make them think at the same time.

5.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?

With an infant daughter, time is always hard to come by. In fact, most of the book was written with my little girl sleeping on my chest. And actually I found looking at that sweet face incredibly motivating when it came to getting my work done. When I wanted to quit for the day, I just looked at her, put my head down, and kept moving forward.

6.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

First off, I hope people will be entertained. I try to write books that I want to read. Second, I hope people will learn a few things about the difficult journey that is being a single mom. And lastly, I hope people enjoy reading a somewhat atypical main character for the genre in a California Latina.

7.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

I love being able to do what I love. Writing isn’t just a job for me. It’s a calling. A passion. And one of the few things in life that makes me consistently happy every time I sit down and do it. But it’s not without its challenges as well. You spend 6-10 months working on a project and can never be sure what people will think until it’s out there. And it can also be really hard to get up every day and start typing, especially when no one is saying you have to. But I guess it’s those times that separate the tinkerers from those who end up finding success at what they do.

8.       Who are some of your favorite authors?

I try to read a wide variety of writers, but a few of my favorites are Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, Honoré de Balzac, John Sanford, Junot Díaz, and Ernest Hemingway.

9.       Are you working on anything new right now?

Oh yah. I’ve got another completed manuscript in the editing process right now, as well as another one that’s currently in process. I wish I could say more, but I’m kind of superstitious about discussing works-in-progress until they are finished.

10.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

Growing up in California, I was fortunate enough to experience the richness of Latino\a culture and the vast contributions people from all over the hemisphere have made to the world and to the United States. I think at the moment, it’s a terribly underrepresented perspective in literature and a story that is ignored to the detriment of us all. However, I also believe there are some great storytellers out there just waiting to have their voices heard. I think we should all do everything we can to make sure they do. 

Find out more about Jake Parent at http://www.jakedparent.com

Up next: A review of Cristina

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