Festival of Books: mystery writer T. Jefferson Parker
T. Jefferson Parker is the author of popular mysteries set in Southern California; his latest, "Iron River," takes his protagonist Charlie Hood back and forth across the border into Mexico. He'll be at the LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 24, on the 11 a.m. panel "Mystery: The Kingpins" with Michael Connelly and Robert Crais. He answered Jacket Copy's questions via e-mail. Tickets for the festival, which are free with a $1 processing fee, will be available from Ticketmaster this Sunday.
Jacket Copy: "Iron River" is your third novel featuring the character Charlie Hood, an L.A. County sheriff. Do you spend time with the sheriff's department for research?
T. Jefferson Parker: Sure, great people. But Charlie has joined an ATF task force, so I’m talking more with the federal guys. Very interesting world, the ATF. They do lots of undercover work, make lots of gun buys from bad actors, as they call them. It’s all tied into the drug wars in Mexico.
JC: What are you currently reading?
TJP: "The Devil and Sonny Liston" by Nick Tosches and "Inherent Vice" by Thomas Pynchon.
JC: What's your favorite thing about the Festival of Books?
TJP: Seeing my writer friends. We can gossip, like around the water cooler in an office. Once a year -- perfect! And I also like it that my son, who is 11, can always find cool books, and my wife enjoys the day, too.
JC: What do you plan to see or do at the festival this year?
TJP: No real plans. We’re staying at a hotel in walking distance to the campus. We really enjoy that walk over in the morning.
JC: Do you have a favorite book or movie about Los Angeles?
TJP: "True Confessions" by John Gregory Dunne would be my favorite L.A. book, with many close seconds. Movies? Man...well "Chinatown" still tops the list for me.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: T. Jefferson Parker in 2004. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times