Parrish's debut novel The Tavernier Stones was released officially on May 1. It's an intellectual's adventure story spanning two continents, Amish and Catholic religions, cartography, gemology and more math than I could ever learn. All without being stuffy or irrelevant.
You can learn important stuff about Stephen at some of his other blog tour stops (see below). For all the non-important stuff, here is my own interview with Mr. Parrish.
- beer or wine? Wine, red, full of spice.
- Miss Snark or Evil Editor? Miss Snark. I just can't picture Evil Editor in stiletto heels.
- rich or brilliant? Brilliant, no question about it. If I think a girl is pretty, then discover she's an airhead, a strange thing happens to my perception: I no longer think she's pretty.
- clever or sincere? If you let me replace "sincere" with "authentic," then I choose it over clever. Be who you really are and I don't care if my jokes go over your head.
- celebrity crush: Cate Blanchett.
- a phrase you use often: "Don't make me come over there and sit on you."
- favorite movie: The best movie ever made, if movies can be ranked, is "Ben Hur."
TELL US about any of your weird writing habits or idiosyncracies. (ie, What’s one “thing” you need to write, the thing without which the creative juices would cease to flow?)
I have to have a title, even if just a working title, before I can write a single word. And I have to have a name for a character before I can make him do anything. Otherwise it's just a matter of laying down words, any words at all, to seed the composition. And a good way to pick up tomorrow where you leave off today is to quit in mid-sentence.
TEACH US one or two of your favorite vocabulary words.
1. Boner. Being out of vogue makes it funny. Also, I was formally reprimanded recently for using it in business correspondence, so naturally I employ it every chance I get. Boner, boner, boner.
2. Brain, used as a verb, i.e., to brain someone, to strike him on the head. Francis Parkman liked this verb when describing one person attacking another from behind: "He brained him unawares." That such expressions have fallen out of vogue is one of the crises the English language faces in modern times.
3. Metaphysical. Nobody really knows what it means, but it sure sounds heavy.
- The last book I finished reading was The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama.
- I gave it five stars.
- One word to describe it is fuckingbrilliant.
QUESTION: What was the most challenging Tavernier Stones sequence to write?
The church scene, during holy mass, during which the image of the cross descends on the wall. I started out describing the entire Catholic mass in exquisite detail, intertwining the observations of various characters as the sun rose and the hour approached noon. But characters were eliminated in subsequent revisions, and I was under pressure to shorten and simplify the scene. It has been rewritten so many times and is so overworked that I can't bear to look at it.
QUESTION: I’m dying of curiosity. Which Disney movie did Zimmerman feature?
"Beauty and the Beast." Belle, a book lover, is my favorite Disney babe.
GIVE US THE SCOOP. Tell us something about yourself that’s exclusive to In Search of Giants (ie, has never been publicized in print or podcast interviews.)
Everyone who knows me believes I'm an atheist. (Erica Orloff insists I'm Buddhist, and I love her for it.) The label is fair; I don't believe in any formally recognized doctrine, certainly no dogma, and I wish every religious tome could be replaced by the eleven beautiful words that comprise the Golden Rule.
Having said that, I was trained as a mathematician. There are theorems so beautiful, so intricate, so breathtaking, the idea they exist by chance is unexceptable. The universe has architecture. Architecture necessarily implies an architect.
Did the Red Sea part? Did Lot's wife turn into salt? I don't think so. Did the universe randomly assemble itself so that Galois Theory, the utter mindboggling power of infinite series, and Euler's Identity just happened, like hitting the right lottery numbers over and over? I don't think so.
My sincere thanks to Stephen Parrish for this interview, my review copy of his book, and a newly-found Skype addiction. I'll be posting my own review of The Tavernier Stones on Wednesday; and on Friday, I'll hold a contest so that you can win your very own copy of this debut novel. Plus, Stephen has generously offered a piece of the Berlin Wall as an additional prize. Imagine that as a paperweight!
Until then (and..because you might have to garner information for Friday's contest....), go check out these other places that feature Stephen Parrish:
MORE TOUR SITESAdventures in Reading: On word-cutting.
Mark Terry chats with Steve about marketing your book. Well, their books. Not your book. You have to do that yourself, you lazy thing.
Jen K. Blom: Is Steve a dog or a cat person?
Hoosblog: An explanation of the title "Greatest Jewelry Salesman in the World"
Jude Hardin: The possibility of an American signing tour
Travis Erwin: What is Steve's secret publishing-jackpot fantasy?