Williamsburg author wins Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award

Williamsburg author Brad Parks won the Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award for Fiction at a black-tie gala in Richmond on Oct. 27

“Obviously it was an incredible honor,” Parks said.

Parks won for his novel, “Say Nothing,” which was published in 2017. The book is about a federal judge whose children are abducted during a trial. They will only be given back to the judge if he gives the verdict the kidnappers want.

“(The plot) came out of a piece of advice a writer friend gave me, which is that you have to write the book that scares you,” Parks said.

Having two kids himself, Parks said there was nothing scarier to him than someone taking them.

“This was a very difficult writing experience,” Parks said. “There were a lot of days when I came home and hugged my kids a lot tighter just from the experience I was having on the page.”

While there is a lot of violence and pressure against political officials right now, Parks said that was not his inspiration. He said he wanted to put his characters in an incredibly stressful situation and see how they handle them.

“For this judge, every day of this character’s life is like the worst day of his life because his children are kidnapped. He doesn’t know if they are going to come back, he doesn’t know if they’re going to be safe,” Parks said. “Really, truly, he’s living a nightmare.”

Readers have emailed Parks that the end of the novel made them cry. He said he cried writing the ending and every time he was editing it — all 15 times.

“I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face every single time,” Parks said.

As research for his book, he was able to shadow a federal judge and look at what their daily life was like under one condition: he could never reveal the judge’s identity.

“Federal judges are not the kind of folks who are out there giving interviews all the time … there kind of wasn’t a lot out there about what it is like to be a federal judge,” Parks said.

One thing Parks said he was impressed with while shadowing the judge was how much care they took sentencing people, even for what is considered routine charges such as drug possession.

He said while there are sentencing guidelines, there is a fair amount of wiggle room within those guidelines.

“This was actually one of the details that made it into the book was how the judge's chambers were a lot quieter on the morning of a sentencing,” Parks said. “Because if you’ve ever been to a federal prison they are not very nice places, and if you are going to be the person responsible for sending another human being to one of those places, it’s something you want to do with a lot of thought and a lot of care.”

While writing books is now his career, Parks said the work he does still brings him personal satisfaction.

“I really love sharing stories with people and I love sharing stories with people on the page,” Parks said. “To write something that has that kind of impact on people is really meaningful to me.”

Want to read it?

You can purchase “Say Nothing” online through Amazon.com or at your local Barnes and Noble. To learn more about Parks and his other novels, visit bradparksbooks.com.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette