Friday, 5 March 2010


By Richard Jay Parker

This week I had an email via the STOP ME site. I've had some great feedback via the contact page but, by the same token, I'm quite prepared to engage with people who have negative comments. I've exchanged a small amount of emails with readers who wanted to call my morals into question in the past and, I'm happy to say, I'm still in touch with them having argued my corner. A victory for reasonable debate.

The person who got in touch with me this week had a number of issues mostly about the website itself. I won't go too much into specifics because the email was based on their personal values and I respect their privacy. It was the site itself that had offended them although I'm not entirely clear about which specific pages. I don't think it was the font though.

There was also more than an intimation that my work is a product of wish fulfilment in terms of the violent acts depicted. I've never considered the violence in STOP ME to be gratuitous but everyone has different thresholds. In terms of them being extensions of my own fantasies - before citing a writer like Bret Easton Ellis I pointed out that a respected author like Agatha Christie wrote consistently about murder but probably never hankered after doing it for real. Then again maybe the Devonshire police should dig up the garden of Greenway. They could close all sorts of files. This is, of course, a joke.

Having read the manuscript for my second book, my agent asked me if I'd ever stalked anyone. He quickly added 'or been stalked yourself.' I took it as a huge compliment because what he'd read was obviously convincing. I suppose following people on Twitter might constitute stalking but seeing as that's the whole idea of the thing I don't really consider myself ready for the old 'sofa in the back of the panel truck trick' just yet (see SILENCE OF THE LAMBS).

A lot of readers can identify when a writer is using their own imagination or amplifying their own experiences for effect but I suppose the skill is to make the process of belief suspension effortless through execution. This works well in the thriller genre because much of what constitutes the story is believable. The backdrop is familiar so when a thriller writer introduces their hooks the reader is already comfortably immersed.

Many of the mainstream book charts contain dark and violent thrillers that are enjoyed safely from the comfort of armchairs around the world but they're not for everyone. To some they're scary in exactly the wrong way. Personally, I've got a chin-high threshold and consider STOP ME to be pretty restrained. Maybe this does make me scary. I don't consider myself to be a scary person although one Curzon Group member has already accused me of this. But I know where I end and the keyboard begins and it's all part of the theatre around a book. Can't do any harm...can I?

More STOP ME info at:


  1. I can honestly say that I have never heard of an author being arrested for commiting the acts he wrote about in a book in real life. I would hope that every author strives to make each book as realistic as possible, other wise whats the point of reading it. I want to be able to connect to the book. Books can make us laugh, and cry and yes they can make us scared, but isn't that the point of the books in the first place? Keep doing what you are doing Mr. Parker, I loved your book and can not wait to read more of your written word!

  2. There was that movie with Johnny Depp...Great post! The good and the bad together make us stronger writers.


  3. Should we not also question the reader for picking these books off the shelves in the first place? Are we too looking for something dark and sinister to scare us, to thrill us? Those who criticise should not read in the first place or question the author or their intent.

    I found STOP ME to thrill and scare in a more implied than "in-your-face" manner. Yes, there were some more direct parts, but hey, that's what we read thriller books for isn't it!

    As they say, if you can't stand the heat, get out the kitchen. Cooks can stand it - that's why they are there!

    Carry on Richard, you're doing fine!

  4. Interesting that you mention the stalking/Twitter thing as I posted recently that a friend had accused me of stalking celebrities by being on Twitter. I don't see it as stalking, it is no worse than being a member of a fan club, surely. I don't look through their bins or hang around outside their houses .....yet :-D

  5. Richard, I enjoyed reading your book Stop Me which has a very unique theme or not. For those who want to criticize it, I suggest not reading it and moving on.

    You're right, I'm sure it's only your font they don't like!

  6. hey richard-sorry you're getting this kind of grief-guess it's what happens when you put something out there. i rarely read thrillers & i hate serial killers. mostly don't care to share time with them. your book wasn't really that violent, it seemed pretty mild to me. i think a lot of people do like being scared-it gets the blood rumbling. i agree that getting out of the kitchen is the answer, if you don't want to suffer. maybe some people like to suffer & complain. i certainly didn't like bookwalter and do wonder why you use his name but-whatever. just keep writing, so we can keep reading. regards, lg

  7. Thanks for your comments, grumpybybirth. It's definitely horses for courses when it comes to what we enjoy reading. It's always a huge compliment when readers find your work so convincing.

    Thanks for dropping in, Michele. I think the movie was called 'SECRET WINDOW.' There was also 'THE DARK HALF.' There's method acting and Orwell would insist there's method writing (DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON)but I don't know of any crime writers who go that far...

    Thanks, Natalie. Criticism often comes from people who haven't even read the book/seen the movie. If they have, packaging and blurb is usually explicit enough. It's never too late to put the book down or turn off the TV. No, I don't think the violence in STOP ME is that in-your-face. I didn't think the story called for it.

    Thanks, Anonymous. Twitter is all about following people. I find it a fascinating insight into people's lives and a great inspiration - although I would never use an actual person or their dialogue in a story.

    Thanks, Anonynous for your kind comments about my book.

    Yes, Leonard, I certainly enjoy thrillers for that reason. Bookwalter is meant to be a repulsive character but not your average, cackling sociopath. I thought it would be fun to adopt his name for my Twitter account. Books should be thought-provoking but they should also be enjoyable.

  8. Years ago I read an article about Stephen King and his insane imagination. King stated that at times he would imagine going up to his own children's room and stabbing them to death with a butcher knife. I do not recall the specifics, but I do recall the interviewer's surprise at Kings ability to imagine the unimaginable... and even more so, to want to imagine such a thing. A writer without imagination isn't a writer. Be scary... damn it. Otherwise we will be subjected to still more thrillers that are dull as dirt.

  9. I think your agent asking if you had stalked anyone or had been stalked is an amazing compliment. If I get a compliment similar for my manuscript I will be thrilled.

    Everyone does have different thresholds - and if your threshold is not high enough then why pick up the book in the first place?!?!
    I picked up 'Stop Me' and had difficulty putting it down. Does that make me sick or does it mean the intensity and the writing had me nailed to my recliner to the point of almost missing work calls overnight..... to me that is damn good writing!!

  10. Jodi - thanks for your contribution to the debate. Interesting point about Stephen King. I think every writer of dark subject matter is prone to become a victim of their own imagination. But that's all it is. There's an enormous chasm between turning something over in your head and actually carrying it out. Am more than happy to continue being scary on the page.

    Thanks, Kymm. If your agent fears you then I don't think it can be a bad thing!

    I think most people know what they're getting into when they pick up a thriller. If it's not their cup of tea they shouldn't invest.

    Thanks for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed STOP ME and that it had the desired effect.

    Best of luck with your own writing.

  11. At my last book club talk one reader complained that CUT SHORT was too frightening for her, another said she thought it should have been more scary... at another talk a reader told me that she no longer likes walking in her local park after reading CUT SHORT because my killer is so creepy, and another reader said my villain could have been more evil... I'm glad they all enjoyed the book, but in terms of being frightened, it's a matter of personal taste and you can't expect to please all of the people all of the time.
    Leigh Russell