I recently had the chance to talk with the enigmatic Nat Parkinson. With over forty years of writing behind him, he has become an overnight sensation with his first book, Bishop and the Pixies, Book One: The Hunt Begins. Straight from the pages of Facebook, a story began to develop and Nat nurtured it to fruition.
In Book One of Bishop and the Pixies, all of the magical world finds itself on the brink of disaster. A former commando and his band of pixies find themselves on a mission to save the world. Will they be able to discover who’s behind the threat and stop them in enough time? Throw in a lovely human named Louise, grand theft tiger cubs, and Willoughby’s galloping kittens and you’ll enjoy the wild ride.
Keep an eye out for Book Two of Bishop and the Pixies. It’s slated for an early November release!
Oh. I must tell you that without the pixies none of this would be possible. (There is currently a pixie bomb being held over my head. They forced me to say that.)
When Nat sat down to answer the interview questions, he told me that this was his first interview for the book. This little ol’ blogger is feeling rather privileged at the moment! I’m always excited to do interviews with authors, but this one means a little more to me since I had the opportunity (with many of you) to watch the characters develop. Thanks Nat!
Alright Pixies, Humans, and Others, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. A quick ten twelve questions with Nat Parkinson.
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Are you a new author or do you have other books I can mention? This is my first novel. I have written for nearly 40 years – both for newspapers and business, but this is my first foray into fiction.
What is your background? In many ways I am Bishop. I have traveled or lived in nearly thirty different countries and speak nine languages. I love to cook, was in the rare wine business, worked as a Merrill Lynch Stockbroker, served in the Army, lived for five years on a sailboat, and was actually raised by butlers and nannies. I am a throwback to the 1800’s, now living in quiet obscurity in Maine and raising my kids. Most of my neighbors believe I am in the Witness Protection Program. I encourage this belief.
Where did you get the inspiration for your book? “Bishop and the Pixies” was drawn from watching the Facebook antics of H.P Mallory’s “Pixie” fans…they are delightfully mischievous and many of the scenes in this and the future books are shamefully lifted from their posts on Facebook. This entire series is being written with ‘real time’ interaction with the fans – I release periodic snippets on my author page and to the secret Pixie Page for their approval. I learned early on in this process that I had to satiate their curiosity for my own well being. I have made a careful effort to include locations I have visited, meals I have cooked, and real world things I have actually seen or lived.
Procrastination is defined as an author’s favorite pastime. What do you do to avoid writing? I still have a ‘real world’ job (almost 16 years as an agent for Aflac) and am interrupted at least 20 times a day with claims and questions. Punctuate that with my kids, dog, cat, and life and the writing is crammed in between. But, I was a US Army journalist and can bang out 3,000 to 5,000 words in a day. If you ‘fell behind’ in army journalism school, you got re-assigned as an infantryman… I made it a point never to fall behind.
Will we be hearing from Bishop again? (If so, please give a guesstimate to when.) “Bishop and the Pixies” will be a trilogy. My ‘target’ for Book Two is November 2012. Here are the opening paragraphs:
It is with a heavy heart and my sincere gratitude that I must advise
you of my intent to retire from your service. Recent circumstances have
made my continuing employ impractical, if not hazardous to your personal
safety, and thus we must part ways.
Many years ago we struck an agreement. You agreed to postpone our contract for the duration of the war out of respect for my patriotic duty to the crown. Once again, the world is at war, but this time the stakes are the future of the entire world. I propose the same agreement.
I shall continue to serve ‘for the duration’ of this current conflict then, assuming there is a world remaining to which I might retire, I shall live out the remainder of my days.
You once told me that you would always take the solemn word of a British Soldier. I assume that is still the case today. Again, you have my solemn word that I shall continue my efforts to vanquish this threat with all my skills and vigor.
Given the nature of the enemy we face this resignation may well be entirely moot. The odds of my surviving this battle are certainly not in my favor. I have faced such odds before and do not fear them. But as in Libya, I have a greater obligation today than my own safety. If I survive, I must retire. This shall be my final campaign….”
How difficult do the pixies make your job as an author? They are constantly looking over my shoulder. But, without them there would be no books, so I do my best to ignore.
What do you do when you’re not writing? I’m pretty boring in ‘real life’. I am a news and golf junkie and watch C-SPAN for “fun”. Really.
You’ve enjoyed immediate success with your book. What advice can you give to other aspiring authors on how to promote themselves? I was amazed this afternoon to find that “Bishop and the Pixies” hit #1 on Barnes and Nobles ‘New Sci-Fi’ after only 6 days…I can only attribute this to the way I wrote it. Every step of the way I included my Facebook fans, shared pre-release excerpts and included them in the writing process…I don’t think ANY book has ever been written in this way. So, when it was released I had a fan base waiting – for a new author and a first book.
Your book is a tie-in with another successful series. Would you like to tell us a little about Bishop’s origins? I invented “Bishop” as the daytime Facebook bodyguard to Sinjin Sinclair (Vampires tend to sleep during the day and sorta need someone to keep them safe) and the Facebook persona took on a life of its own. This is not a ‘tie in’ so much as a ‘jump to the left….and then a step to the right’ No characters in B&P appear in any of H.P.’s books…this is an entirely new ‘world’.
Is there a specific age group you are targeting or is this a book for readers of all ages? I kept this book (and all future books) age appropriate for age 12 – but targeted it to also appeal to adults…there is no sex, very mild profanity (‘Crap’ versus worse choices) and most of the violence is aimed at ‘bad guys’. I have kids, and would not worry for one minute about them reading my books, and 90% of my readers are adults – who enjoy a funny story.
Who are you reading right now? I have a vast collection of 1950’s “Juvenile Fiction” and am currently re-reading the “Tom Corbett – Space Cadet” series. Gosh they’re swell!
Where would you live if you could choose anywhere in the world? No hesitation – back to living on a sailboat. You get to pick your neighbors and the view is always lovely.
Two Snippets from Book One and two snippets from Book Two! Enjoy!
Just as they arrived there was a commotion in the kitchen and suddenly three cats galloped into the living room with Kayla, Shannon and Ginette dressed in fox hunting outfits riding on tiny saddles. Kayla yelled, “Hey Bish! Look what Willoughby gave us!” All three were so excited that they didn’t notice Diana or Drea until they were half way to the sofa.
Suddenly Shannon reined her cat to an abrupt stop and screeched, “Holy CRAP! It’s the Queen! Run for it!” and wheeled her calico mount around. She and the others rode out onto the patio and over the back wall into the night, as fast as the cats could run.
Bishop raised his hands to the shocked group.
“Please, don’t ask,” he said.
Drea shook her head and wrote something in a small notebook. She tucked her pencil back into her hair with great precision and gave it a small tug, making sure it was secure.
Breaking the embrace and looking up, Louise toyed with one of the curled ends of Bishop’s mustache.
“There is one thing I’d like to know before you go…” she said with a smile.
“And what would that be, dear?”
“You must have a first name? I think it’s only fair that you tell me.”
Bishop’s ears turned reddened slightly. He paused for several long seconds and looked around the suite to make sure that no Pixies had snuck in. Finally he lowered his mouth to Louise’s ear and whispered.
“Oh dear!” Louise said, “You can’t be serious?”
“I’m afraid so,” Bishop replied with a shake of his head.
“Quite so,” Bishop said quickly.
“Whose idea was that?” Louise asked with a giggle.
“My mother was a charming woman but she had some rather odd ideas at times.”
“Let’s just stick with ‘Bishop’,” Louise agreed as she started to giggle again.
Sergeant Willoughby happily assumed the task of training Corporal Simon (with the assistance of Kayla, Shannon and Ginette) and in short order the furry recruit was marching smartly and saluting. He still periodically tossed in a back flip for punctuation, but that was viewed as mere exuberance.
One night Bishop stopped in to check on Simon’s progress and noticed that the recruit was wearing a holster with what seemed to be an ape sized – and quite real – .32 caliber pistol. Bishop instantly froze. Could Willoughby really be so certifiable as to give a loaded gun to an ape? Bishop quickly placed the odds at 50/50.
With exaggerated care, Bishop slowly approached Simon until he was close enough to snatch the weapon and examine it. In a reaction which would certainly bring any other recruit up on charges, the ape screeched and leapt onto Bishop’s back and whacked him on the head with an orange. A quick examination revealed the pistol to be unloaded and Bishop handed it back to Simon.
The corporal holstered his prized possession and sulked away.
“Your Majesty, during our discussion in Malta you talked about how the Gods had lost all doubt in their infallibility?”
Diana shook her head sadly, “As you would say Bishop, quite so. Even our best efforts could no longer make them doubt themselves.”
“And I ask you,” he said placing his hand on Melanthorpe’s shoulder, “when even a human such as this disreputable specimen – after consuming the entire contents of a pub, becoming so absurdly blotto that he obeyed the orders of a monkey in a suit…”
“I’ve been doing that for years…” Melanthorpe objected.
Bishop ignored the comment, “…when even the likes of this, can suddenly rattle off the batting average of the third baseman of the 1934 New York Yankees, I submit we have reached that same stage.
“Who here had ever even heard of Jack Saltzgaver before I asked you about him? I know I hadn’t and I was around in 1934. Yet every drunken carcass here – Mr. Mahmoud excepted of course – was instantly able to locate his statistics and smugly recite them. This absurdity must be stopped. I propose that we instill some healthy doubt back into mankind. We must disable the internet.”
Layla had been half listening to Bishop’s quiz and discussion with Diana with the small portion of her brain which was not pounding and numb but this last comment woke her up immediately.
“Holy CRAP! What did just you say?” she asked.