Message From The Author
As an author whose crime fiction is set in gritty, urban Newark, New Jersey, I never thought I’d write a scene inspired by owl porn.
Yes, owl porn – as in, two owls having sex. And I’m not talking about that soft-core National Geographic Channel stuff, either. I’m talking raw. And real. Every night. In my front yard.
When I was writing Eyes of the Innocent, the second book in my mystery series featuring investigative reporter Carter Ross, my wife and I were in the midst of a major life change. Like my protagonist, I was a newspaper reporter, but with the industry in an ever-hastening demise – and with my first book just having sold to St. Martin’s Press – we decided it was time for me to follow my dream of being a full-time author. I quit my job at The (Newark) Star-Ledger, we sold our house in suburban New Jersey, and we moved for a new job my wife was taking at a boarding school in rural Virginia.
Now, when I say “rural,” I mean it in a way a Yankee like me – born in New Jersey, raised in Connecticut, spoiled by the conveniences of the Route 95 corridor – had never quite considered. Within a 25-minute drive of our old house, there were four major shopping malls, not to mention every flavor of restaurant you could ever want.
Within a 25-minute drive of our new house, there are two Wal-Marts. In our county, the only restaurant open some nights is a Hardees. There are exactly three stoplights, which is three more than two of the counties that border us.
Our new home, provided by the boarding school, was a tiny cottage on the shores of the mighty Rappahannock River. Our front yard was covered in century-old loblolly pines that, we discovered shortly after moving in, were home to a pair of owls.
Each night as dusk fell, because there was little else to do, we watched the owls doing their owl thing. We learned that late summer is mating season – the only time of the year when they come out of the trees – so we’d watch the owls hopping along the ground, turning their cat-like heads in that wacky 270-degree radius, checking each other out.
It was great theater. And, apparently, it was on my mind as I was writing the scene excerpted below.
In it, Carter, our mostly intrepid hero, has been dispatched on an errand that has little to do with journalism. The paper’s newest intern, Lauren “Sweet Thang” MacMillan – a honey-haired, 22-year-old Vanderbilt graduate whose Daddy just happens to be golfing buddies with the newspaper’s editor-in-chief – has had her prized charm bracelet stolen. Carter, who may have taken notice that Sweet Thang rather nicely fills out a sweater set, has been instructed to find it.
He is just coming off a failed foot-chase for the charm bracelet when he gets a phone call from Tina Thompson, the paper’s city editor and Carter’s sort-of love interest. Tina is a single, childless 39-year-old hottie whose biological clock has dictated it’s time to reproduce.
She’s not interested in having a conventional relationship with anyone, but has nevertheless decided Carter, with his blue eyes and good bone structure, will be her baby’s father – and not, it should be noted, by in-vitro fertilization. She’s made it clear to Carter she intends to conceive the old-fashioned way.
But, of course, it’s complicated, especially when Tina begins to suspect Carter might have a thing for the intern. Much like an owl, Tina is territorial. And predatory...
- Brad Parks
Brad Parks’s debut, Faces of the Gone, became the first book ever to win the Nero Award and Shamus Award, two of crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes. His second book, , releases this week from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books. Library Journal gave it a starred review, calling it “as good if not better (than) his acclaimed debut.” For more Brad, sign up for his newsletter, follow him on Twitter or became a fan of Brad Parks Books on Facebook.
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