An Interview with Author Mark S. Parker!

Today, I'll be interviewing children's and Middle Grade author Mark S. Parker! Mark has been writing all his life, but he only started writing seriously for children after his grandchildren were born. Since then, he has written a middle grade novel and a children's book about Christmas. You can connect with Mark on Facebook and Goodreads.

Thanks for chatting with me today, Mark!

First, tell us a bit about yourself.

For those of you who don’t know me, I spent my early years in Waco and graduated from Belton High School and Texas A&M back in the 70’s. This Central Texas boy married a West Texas girl, Ann Becker, in 1977. We moved to Midland, her hometown, in 1980 when I received my Master’s degree. I went to work for Gulf Oil as a landman and was just happy to have a job. I’ve been a landman ever since. Sometimes with a company and sometimes independently. Our four children grew up in Midland. We now have five grandchildren, with one on the way. I’ve always enjoyed books, words and letters. My writing, until recently, has been for family, friends and church. A couple of years ago, about the time our grandchildren started coming along, my muse took off and I started writing books and songs for children and young people.

What books have you written, and what genre are they?

My first published middle grade novel, SHAKY MAN, was a joy ride into my youth.  I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I've finished another book, NATIVITY TALES, which is a series of Christmas stories for younger children and all ages.  I hope to have it out next year.

Tell us more about your books!

SHAKY MAN is basically the story of a young boy, Top, growing up outside of Waco, Texas in the mid-1960's.  It is about baseball, friendships, misunderstanding, prejudice, racism and all the things that go through a young boy's mind through the turbulence of the times.  There is even a murder and a trial.  Of course, there is the much feared Shaky Man, who Top comes to terms with.

NATIVITY TALES follows a young boy, Griffin, from first grade to adulthood and his adventures with his Nativity set.  The figures come to life every Christmas Eve after he goes to bed.  It includes a non-traditional retelling of the first Christmas.

What ages are your books for?

I'd say SHAKY MAN is for ages 10 and up, although it has been read to third graders and they loved it.  Adults like it as well.  I think that's because of the nostalgia the book generates.

NATIVITY TALES is for all ages.  It's a chapter book to be read by or read to kids during the Advent season.  It will have quite a few illustrations.  That's why it's taking so long.  This was my first book and I want to get it right.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My grandchildren primarily.  They are my muse.  From little, unexpected things, secondarily.

How did you come up with your characters?

NATIVITY TALES grew from thinking about my old Nativity set that sat in the attic.  SHAKY MAN was a little bit of the man in the mirror now and the young boy he used to be and the world and people he knew growing up.

When did you first start writing?

I've had a way with words for as long as I can remember.  I love books, words, letters and language.  Like most lefties, my handwriting is awful.  Word processors and computers were the best thing to ever come along.  I've written for pleasure, family, friends and church for a long time, but only decided to take it to the next level with the arrival of my first grandchild three years ago.  That's when the muse went into overdrive.

Where do you like to write?

I write mostly in my head wherever I am.  In the car is a good place.  At our river house.  On the golf course.  Then I sit down at my desk and pour it out.  I wrote what I think may be the two best chapters of SHAKY MAN in one day.  I don't keep a writing regimen like most writers.  I just let it happen.

What are some of your favorite books?

Anything by Dr. Seuss.  All of the Doctor Dolittle books.  Anything by Kate DiCamillo.  There are too many great children's writers out there to name.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming authors?

Remember that conferences, seminars and tips offer great suggestions, but they are just suggestions.  You have to find what works for you.  There are no "have to's" in this business.  That's what's great about it.

Don't you have something better to do? ;)

Well, I could probably make more money back in the oil business, even though prices are low.  I sure wouldn't be having as much fun.

Thank you, Mark!

To find out more about Mark and his books, check out these links:

Shaky Man on Amazon:

Mark's website:

Mark's Goodreads Author Page:

To buy Shaky Man from the publisher:

Mark's book, Shaky Man

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