Parker to bring "Trespassers Talking" to LWB

Staff Writer

Starkville native Laurie Parker, author and illustrator of the beloved children’s rhyming favorites "Everywhere in Mississippi," "The Turtle Saver," "It Really Said Christmas," and many others, is returning to Luncheon With Books, at noon Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Bryan Public Library.

She has recently released her fourth novel "Trespassers Talking" and will be discussing it during the Luncheon With Books series, sponsored by Friends of the Library. Luncheon With Books provides lunch for a $6 donation to Friends of the Library.

“In 2013, I made the switch from ‘children’s books’ to ‘big-people books’ when I released 'The Matchstick Cross," Parker said. "Even though I always considered my rhyming books to be for both children and adults, I was long-ago labeled a ‘children’s author.’ So although it was a major departure in the eyes of the public when I released my first novel, a 507 page book, it wasn’t so much for me. I was just doing what I’ve always done, crafting in words. But there were, of course, some differences in the process.”

Parker said she thoroughly enjoyed doing the children’s books, she found that writing a story in prose came so naturally to her with her first novel that she regrets she didn’t start doing novels years ago.

She said to make up for lost time, she has devoted the last three years of her life to crafting in prose. In September 2014, she released her second southern novel, "Yonder Breaks the Morning," and in 2015, her third, "Hush, Swing, Hush."

"It is always such a pleasure to have Laurie Parker come and visit," Lucille Armstrong, president of Friends of the Library said. "Everyone loves her charming children's books and it was wonderful to see her change her writing style to appeal to a more grown-up audience."

Parker said her latest novel is set in Natchez in 2015.

“Natchez is perhaps Mississippi’s most historically colorful town," Parker said. "So that made it a fun backdrop for my latest story. As my main character is a sportswriter, the fact that Natchez has several high school football teams worked for me as well.”

Parker said she did a lot of fact checking when it came to both the Southeastern Conference and high-school football.

“My story is set in 2015, and I stuck to reality as far as both the SEC’s and the state’s high-school football schedules," Parker said. " If my main character, Rainer, is covering LSU at Ole Miss one weekend, that’s because they actually played each other on that date. So I incorporated authentic scores and stats into my novel. At one point, I even go back in history and mention a state-championship game that took place in 1981 between Starkville and South Natchez."

Parker said it was a kick to include that, as she was dating someone who played for the Starkville Yellowjackets that year and was actually at that game. While doing some research for the story, she said she had completely forgotten that it was Natchez who beat Starkville that time.

Parker said her novel also touches on the subject of political correctness, and she says she is aware that many people will consider the way she approaches it to be politically incorrect.

“In a fictional story, you can show the humanity of characters and get readers into the hearts of people," Parker said. "A way that is a less vitriolic, more innocuous to facilitate getting folks to see the other side of an argument, or to realize that everything isn’t always black or white, good or bad. In short, in this age in which freedom of speech and the right to have one’s own opinion rather than a mainstream-dictated one seem to be more and more in jeopardy. Fiction is one of the only places where one can still feel free to be a rebel. After all it’s just a story."

Parker said "Trespassers Talking" features a character who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parker said she studied quite a few online message boards to find stories from which she could draw ideas and anecdotes people shared about things their parents or spouses did when affected by the brain disease. She says she wants people who love someone with Alzheimer’s to be able to relate to some of the stages the spouse in her story goes through.

Parker said what she enjoyed the most about writing this particular book was finding a way to weave a story using two separate topics: Alzheimer’s disease and political correctness run amok.