Richard Parkinson was born in Montreal, Canada, but has lived most of his life in southwestern Ontario. He worked in the newspaper industry for over twenty years, as a reporter, editor, and publisher, before leaving it to work at a full-service garage. He resides in Harrow, Ontario with his wife Shelley and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Together, they have four adult children.
What inspired you to write and what continues to inspire you?
In a word, reading. My parents were both teachers, and they loved to read. They passed on that passion to me and my brother. Books were more than just decorations in our house; they were a part of everyday life. I was always reading, getting lost in the many stories I devoured. Reading other people’s stories, inspired me to start writing stories of my own. My mother encouraged me in that and I ended up with notebooks full of finished and unfinished tales. Reading still plays in an important part in fueling my inspiration to write. Whenever I feel bogged down or uninspired, I pick up a favorite book and it re-energizes me and gets me going.
Your bio says you ‘worked in the newspaper industry’. Are there things you learned at that job that you draw on in your stories?
I was a reporter for many of the years I worked in the newspaper industry. As such, I met many colorful, real life characters. I have never translated any of them directly into fictional characters, but there was a lot of meat there to draw on.
Also, as a reporter I felt my role was to observe, not to participate. I was there to get the story, not become the story. So, in a way, it honed my powers of observation, which is always good when you are seeking to draw some inspiration from the real world – whether it’s a nice bit of scenery, an interaction between people, or what have you.
It all came out of a homebrew tabletop roleplaying game I created. The world in that game is the foundation for the world of West Marque (and beyond). Around ten years ago, my daughter and I watched some of the old “spaghetti westerns” together. She knew I enjoyed writing and she encouraged me to write a western styled story. I sat down and immediately decided to place the story in the world of West Marque. I wrote what became the first chapter in the book in an hour or two. I read it to her and she really liked it, and encouraged me to write more.
Your books blend the mythos of Knights of the Realm and Cowboys – what were the challenges in creating your world?
There are so many challenges to world building, no matter what kind of world you are attempting to build. Shaping the world itself and developing the geography is a challenge. And then you wonder, what kind of flora and fauna inhabit the world? How weird do I want the flora and fauna to get? And then you add people and it’s just a giant snowball of questions upon questions, challenges upon challenges, rolling faster and faster down the mountain as you try to figure out the history of the people of the world, going right back to the beginning.
Tabletop role-playing helped in that. I tend to get stuck in the Game Master chair, and I have to admit I like it. World building is a big part of tabletop role-playing, especially when you are playing in your own world.
Fortunately, we have a pretty good foundation in the real world. I drew a lot of inspiration from real world history.
What issues or human challenges hold the most fascination for you and why?
The internal struggle. For me, everything boils down to that. The struggle to define ourselves, find ourselves, or redefine ourselves in the uncontrollable chaos that swirls around us.
What is your favorite (read) book and why?
That’s a tough one, and it changes, depending on my mood. Right now, it’s Larry McMurtry’s, Lonesome Dove. I’ve read it three or four times already, from cover to cover, and sometimes I’ll just open it up to a random page and read an excerpt.
What is the book you dream of writing and haven’t yet?
The cheap answer? The remaining books in the series.
The not-so-cheap answer? A good straight fantasy novel, as a tip to the hat to the genre that really get me interested in reading. I’ve attempted to write straight fantasy several times, and failed. I have a few pages and some notes for one that I am happy with, but I doubt I will dig into them any time soon. My mom always said to finish one thing before starting another. It’s a bit of wisdom I hold onto.
Find out more about the author
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thebookofwestmarque/notifications/
Goodreads Page (All In): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34842562-all-in
Goodreads Page (The Call): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29918547-the-call