Parker was educated in public schools in Orange County, California, and took a
bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, in
1976. He was honored in 1992 as the Distinguished Alumnus.
His writing career began in 1978, as a cub reporter on the weekly newspaper, The Newport Ensign. After covering police, city hall and cultural stories for the Ensign, Parker moved on to the Daily Pilot newspaper, where he won three Orange County Press Club awards for his articles. All the while he was tucking away stories and information that he would use in his first book.
Laguna Heat, written on evenings and weekends while he worked as a journalist, was published to rave reviews and made into an HBO movie starring Harry Hamlin, Jason Robards and Rip Torn. The paperback made the New York Times Bestseller list in 1986.
Parker's next ten booksall dealing with crime, life and death in sunny Southern Californiawere published to uniformly good reviews and appeared on various regional bestseller lists. His writing has been called "potent and irresistible" (L.A. Times) and "resonant, literate and powerful" (Kirkus). The New York Times wrote that "T. Jefferson Parker is a powerhouse writer." Writing in the Washington Post, reviewer Carolyn See called The Triggerman's Dance "a masterpiece." Where Serpents Lie and The Blue Hour appeared for five weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Red Light was number one on that list in May of 2000. As was his next novel, Silent Joe, in May 2001. Silent Joe won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, was nominated for the Hammett Award by the International Association of Crime Writers and has been optioned for film. Cold Pursuit was named novel of the year by the Southern California Booksellers Association.
When not working on his books, Parker spends his time with his family, hiking, hunting and fishing, and haunting the public tennis courts. He enjoys diving, snorkeling, and travel. He escapes to a trailer in the desert in the spring and fall, to hike the country and not answer telephones.
Laguna Heat (1985)
Little Saigon (1988)
Pacific Beat (1991)
Summer Of Fear (1993)
The Triggerman's Dance (1996)
Where Serpents Lie (1998)
The Blue Hour (1999) 1st in the Merci Rayborn series
Red Light (2000) 2nd Merci Rayborn novel
Silent Joe (2001)
Black Water (2002) 3rd Merci Rayborn novel
Cold Pursuit (2003)
California Girl (2004)
The Fallen (2006)
Storm Runners (2007)
LA Outlaws (2008)
The Renegades (2009)
Iron River (2010)
The Border Lords (2011)
This biography was last updated on 08/04/2011.
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When did you first decide to become a writer?
My "Mythology and Folklore" teacher in high school hated our class because we were troublemakers. One day she refused to teach us, and made us each close our eyes and pick a book out of a box she'd brought from home. We were to read silently all period. I got Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and I read it in a few days. I couldn't believe how funny it was, how hip and right-on. I told myself that if I could ever write something that would give someone 1/1000th the pleasure that Heller gave me, I'd be proud.
Where do your plot ideas come from? What inspires you?
The plots usually take shape in the writing or outlining stage. You create them, like a carpenter laying the foundation of a house. It's a gut feel, whether the story is good and the plot is right. I'm inspired by everythingthe front page of the LA Times, a weird dream from the night before, an interesting story told by a friend, or even sitting at church. Snippets of conversation I overhear, things I see and experience, life itselfthe mind drifts, hatching disastrous plots. But I'm inspired most of all by novels. There's something about a good, I mean a very good, novel, ...
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