Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I found my way to the mystery/ thriller genre through the intersection of my love for detective series, dating back to childhood, and an enduring interest in understanding the unique lives of folks who are, as I like to say, “not me.” As a young reader, the Hardy Boys led me to Raymond Chandler (and the homage via my pen name Raymond Parish), Dashiell Hammet, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie. As a young social worker, I found my calling, psychotherapy, witnessing the struggles and celebrations of people committed to solving their personal mysteries. When I decided to make the leap from nonfiction writing into fiction, it felt natural to venture into the mystery/thriller genre. As I wrote the first novel, Overnight Delivery, getting to know my characters and developing their relationships, it became clear. A series was my path to follow. Beyond the suspense, danger, and surprises, I want my readers to connect over time with the motives, strengths, flaws, humor, and traumas of Hank Anderson and his crew. This was the motivation for Hank and Phil’s backstory in book two, The Mighty Shall Fall. Book three, The Last Step, is underway, centering on a threat to Dennis Greenberg, Hank’s mentor and business partner. Familiar friends, new villains, and a surprise reappearance in Dennis’ life.
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre that they need to know?
I enjoy having conversations with readers who have a limited understanding of the breadth and depth of mystery and thriller series. One misconception — this genre is no more than lightweight, violent entertainment. My books are an invitation for readers to enter into the story at whatever level they find most interesting. They might be entertained by the tension, dark deeds, humor, and plot twists. If so inclined, they are also provided with food for thought regarding friendship, family, diversity, addiction, mental health, and trauma. As a lifelong reader in this genre, I’ve traveled the world through authors’ eyes. Historical fiction. Mysteries built from fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and more. I would encourage any reader who doubts the depth of this genre to start with Walter Mosley, Attica Locke, and Stuart Kaminsky. Politics, culture, racism, times past, and future possibilities. It’s all there.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
Writing and publishing is a passion I’ve blended into my full-time career and family life. My first editor told me that 1% of all published authors make their entire living from writing. This was strangely reassuring. It helped me frame success as the creation of five well-received nonfiction books, numerous articles, and the Hank Anderson series rather than the ensuing, mixed results — sales, reviews, accolades, and disappointments. It motivates me to continue writing in this profoundly satisfying, uncertain craft.
What are some day jobs you have held?
Several key elements of Hank Anderson’s life are grounded in my job experience. I spent my adolescent and college years working in restaurants. Waiter, food prep guy, manager. I learned to cook, run the line, and connect with people from all walks of life. I also learned to love homemade diner food, an important context for my stories. Interspersed, I worked as a door-to-door salesman, truck loader, and researcher coder, eventually making a commitment to complete my education after a near-fatal stint in roofing. One of the gifts provided by my years in counseling has been the opportunity to add teaching and writing to my career. I continue to teach part-time at a local university. Every job has found its way into my writing, fiction, and nonfiction, because of the people I have encountered.
What have you written so far?
I have released two books in the Hank Anderson series, Overnight Delivery and The Mighty Shall Fall. I am currently working on book three, The Last Step. I’ve written five books in the mental health/self-help field in my real name, including Men at Work: An Action Guide to Masculine Healing and I’m Sorry It’s Cancer: A Handbook of Help and Hope for Survivors and Caregivers. I’ve also placed chapters in three nonfiction books written by other therapists. My most recent nonfiction publication was in 2022, Cancer Survivorship and The New Retirement, in Coping with Cancer Magazine.
Do you work with an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
I work from a premise, the outline of key characters, and a somewhat unique chapter design; my stories progress by days of the week. Inspired by writers such as Agatha, and movies like Detroit, I use this structure to shrink and contain the characters’ world and bring the reader into the sense of urgency felt by individuals on both sides of the threat. From this foundation, the voices and actions of my characters move the story forward. Within a few pages, I get some sense of the ending. The adventure becomes finding the path to the finish line.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
The Mighty Shall Fall is best described by my cover blurb: Hank Anderson is stuck in the aftermath of the tragic life of Kenny Jensen when Seth Oberstreet is dropped at the door of Anderson & Greenberg Counseling, hundreds of miles from home. In moments, the speed and trajectory of Hank’s recovery are up for grabs. As Seth’s story unfolds, Hank’s mission to protect the vulnerable collides with his compulsion to solve complex human puzzles. Disoriented, on the edge of collapse, Seth has come under the influence of The Scholars of Calm – a secretive spiritual movement led by self-proclaimed guru, Taranis Tyr. Why did this sect step out of the shadows now? And why choose Hank? Hank needs backup. That’s before Seth disappears. Detective Phil Evans answers the call, setting in motion a desperate search that places them all in the sights of those who value death over truth, while forcing Phil to confront his own long-buried trauma.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
So many characters. So much love for them. I will say that I became very attached to Major Sunderman of the Iowa State Patrol in book two. Although she doesn’t appear until the story is rolling along at full speed, the major becomes instrumental to the action. As a buttoned-down law enforcement official, she is a wonderful sparring partner to Hank’s deadly combination of curiosity, impulsivity, and compassion. Their uneasy collaboration is a key element in revealing the truth and in better understanding our main characters. I’m hoping she shows up in the next Hank Anderson Thriller.
What role does research play in your writing?
My thrillers require a significant amount of research. The books are set in the Midwest, primarily in Iowa. I’m a former resident of the state and continue to visit, but find it necessary to return as I write, to connect with specific neighborhoods, landscapes, the weather, and the feel of both familiar and new locations in a current and fresh way. One gift provided by my therapy career is the diversity of people I’ve been blessed to know. This is the foundation for additional research on law enforcement, the legal profession, weapons, music, transportation, and other particulars I will not reveal to my future (I hope) reading audience. One characteristic I share with Hank is a never-ending curiosity about people, which makes research one of the rewards of my writing journey.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I drift between fiction and nonfiction in my reading as well as my writing. I am dedicated to several mystery series. My current favorites are C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett, David Housewright’s Mac McKenzie, and Attica Locke’s Darren Mathews. My daughter introduced me to Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club, which is great fun. I am an avid music trivia buff, capable of boring almost anyone in my immediate circle. There is always a book on the life of at least one musician on my to-be-read stack. Currently, biographies of jazz musician Pat Metheny and the legendary Leonard Cohen await. Another focus of my nonfiction reading is aging and the non-financial ingredients of a vibrant retirement, related to my work as a university adjunct.
One response to “Raymond Parish, author of The Mighty Shall Fall”
I read your author interview on Waking Writer and truly enjoyed it. Your books sound excellent and I wish you every success. Raymond Maher
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