One of my favorite genres when it comes to TV shows is Law/Crime drama. Every episode is like solving a mystery and making sure that justice is served. Although, sometimes I get annoyed when something obscure happens on the show that makes the entire episode unbelievable. And I find myself saying, “I thought they would hire lawyers to consult with before writing such an episode.” It’s cool to see how the lawyers work with the police to gather the evidence and the lawyers using their savvy wit to best present the evidence to put the criminals behind bars. But that will all go in the trash if the whole scenario isn’t believable. That is why I am very glad we have authors like Jason Parent who has the law background writing great crime thrillers and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview him.
Michael: Jason, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Jason: Well, I’ve spent most my life in Southeastern Massachusetts, which serves as the setting for many of my stories. I have two brothers and a sister, all married with kids. I have a dog. I love my dog.
Michael: I love it when authors incorporate real places that they’ve experienced as part of the setting in their books. It adds a level of believability that captivates the reader. So, I read that you are a lawyer. How does your background in law influence your writing?
Jason: Many of my stories, and my novels particularly, delve into the genre of crime fiction. Laws vary across states, and so often I read books where the laws don’t match the jurisdiction in which the story is set or are just plain wrong altogether. But perhaps my knowledge of the law is a double-edged sword—there are so many misconceptions out there that even where I have it right, some readers might think I’m wrong. Still, my background gives me creative ways to get my villains legitimately out of tight spots, like Fourth Amendment violations and chain of custody issues. And when that doesn’t work, they can always just kill their way out.
Michael: That is fascinating. There are many readers out that that are very interested in seeing such legal loopholes in novels. I’ve got to ask now, how often do these legal loopholes actual happen in our courtrooms in your experience. And have you really experienced a time where someone “killed their way out?”
Jason: I only worked in criminal law for a very short period of time, but working in the public defender’s office, I saw a lot of cases in that very short time. Entertainment likes depict lawyers—and especially criminal defense attorneys as savvy, smarmy, soulless s.o.b.s who help the guilty go free on “technicalities.” Those so-called technicalities (really, the law) are usually violations of constitutionally protected rights designed to prevent innocent people from going to jail. Do they help some guilty people slip through the cracks? Sometimes, but not as often as what seems to be public perception. To think that some officers never wrongfully arrest people or abuse their authority is as big a myth as the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” And that’s nothing against police officers, who I have tremendous respect for. They put their lives on the line for us regular citizens. But like all walks of life, including attorneys, there are good ones and bad ones.
Anyway, nope, I never had to represent a murderer or anyone who killed their way out. But in a fictional world, isn’t that more exciting?
Michael: Haha! Yes! That is definitely more exciting. Well, I’m glad that you didn’t have to represent such a client! Sorry, about the sidebar, let’s get back to your writing for a moment. Where and when did your writing journey begin?
Jason: It began in earnest in college to help me deal with some changes in my life. I wrote fantasy, created new races and creatures, and generally pooped out an off off off off Broadway version of the Lord of the Rings. After I threw all that crap out, I began again soon after college, except at that time, I had a grittier story to tell. I had become the savvy, smarmy, soulless s.o.b. I am now.
Michael: That would have actually interested me. I’m a huge fantasy fan. But I’m glad that you’ve matured in your writing, because readers definitely are attracted to the savvy and smarmy! Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Jason: Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe were my favorite authors when I was growing up. King’s influence on my style is more subtle. I never think I am writing like King, but I have read so much of his work, how could I not be influenced by it? As for Poe, on three occasions, I have done my best to emulate his style. Consequently, those are the three works I am finding most difficult to publish. Either people just don’t appreciate a modern Poe, or I’m just butchering the poor dead fellow.
Michael: Wow, both are excellent authors and very dark. I can definitely see the influence. As a lawyer, I’m going have to assume you have very busy days. What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
Jason: I work. A lot. So much so that writing is often difficult to fit in. I spend lunch breaks writing and editing, and as many nights and weekends as I can, trying to balance it all with a social life. I don’t write as much as I’d like, but I am working on that. Many authors have schedules and minimum daily word counts, something I hope to implement in the near future.
Michael: It seems that a lot of your published works so far have been horror or thrillers. How did this genre become your favorite?
Jason: It’s what I read and love. I don’t think I’d be very good at writing a historical romance.
Michael: So how did you come up with the idea for your novel, Seeing Evil?
Jason: I have several stories planned for my lead detective, each a stand-alone work. But they will fit together in a broader scheme. Seeing Evil is a crucial part of that scheme, though readers won’t see how each part/novel fits until the final story is told. This particular novel is, in part, inspired by The Dead Zone, one of my favorite books growing up (here, King’s influence rears its head), at a time when my age mirrored that of my main character’s.
Michael: The Dead Zone is also one of my favorite King novels! This crime/paranormal genre seems to be getting quite popular, with so many crime/paranormal works currently on the shelves, what sets your novel apart from the rest?
Jason: A unique voice, as those who’ve read What Hides Within can attest to, fresh, multi-dimensional characters, and what I hope is a fast-paced, tension-filled read that worms its way into readers’ thoughts before they realize it’s happening and stays with them long after.
Michael: That is definitely a great way to keep your readers interested. Another thing is when a reader to feel the passion the author has for the characters in their books. Who is your favorite character and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
Jason: Detective Samantha Reilly. She’s strong, stalwart, caring, tough and merciful where the circumstances merit, human—in other words, not at all like me.
Michael: So for someone who doesn’t have that much time in the day, but yet squeeze in the time to write, you must really enjoy writing. What scene in the novel did you have the most fun writing?
Jason: I had a lot of fun writing the third chapter. In this scene, the readers are first introduced to 14 year-old Michael, an ordinary freshman trying hard just to fit in, to not be noticed by the wrong people. Well, the wrong people notice, and what unfolds is both horrifying and traumatizing, yet sadly realistic. I think it’s every freshman boy’s worst nightmare, and, I hope, I captured all the raw emotions that come with such a scene: fear, disgust, weakness, humiliation, defiance, etc.
Michael: Third chapter…got it! I must check it out when I get around to reading the book! What is it that you want your readers to walk away with after reading your novel?
Jason: A smile.
Michael: I don’t think I’ve ever heard an author say that when I’ve asked the question. But I like it! What do you have in store next for your readers?
Jason: Lots. After Seeing Evil, I have a few more short stories and a novelette in the queue with publishers. I have a traditional horror novel and sci-fi novel in the works, as well as another novel featuring my favorite detective.
Michael: Sounds like a lot more excitement coming our way. Thank you so much for sharing with us your views and your story.
If your interest has peaked like mine, check out Jason’s book “Seeing Evil” by clicking on the book cover below.