Author Spotlight: Howard Parsons

Howard Parsons was born in Petersburg, VA during the final days of King George VI’s reign. He grew up and attended school in nearby Hopewell, VA. The eldest son of Lucile and Howard T. Parsons Sr., he attended North Carolina College in Rocky Mount, NC and graduated in 1974 with a BS degree in Biology. Although his interests lay in both Virology and Marine Biology, the need to earn a living led him to the field of Information Technology. During his stint with the Michie Company in Charlottesville, VA, he developed the TOOL programming language and in 2008, wrapped up a 30-year career in legal publishing.

At present, he is employed as a software engineer with the Dematic Corp. and lives at The Parsonage in Charlottesville with his wife and their latest two moggies in a long line of house cats. His interests include pipe collecting, Scottish highland games, railroads, and heraldry.

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Welcome to the blog, Howard! Tell us all sorts of stuff about yourself and your book!

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What is your book about?

Urban Mermaid is a kind of “boy meets mermaid” story for grown-ups. However, instead of undersea kingdoms, royal titles, and three wishes, this mermaid has a 9 to 5 job just like everyone else. One Sunday afternoon, she decides to pull a prank on an unsuspecting human; a human she’ll never see again.

The following morning, she reports to work at her new job only to discover that her cubicle is right next to his. Over the next ten weeks, their lives become intertwined and they finally muster the courage to propose, though each fears the other will spurn the offer. The fun really begins when she takes him home to meet her parents.

 

How did you come up with the story?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve told myself stories as a way of drifting off to sleep. The plots and characters have constantly changed and though there have been mermaids amongst it all, they have never been an all-consuming subject.

One night, I came up with the idea for a smart aleck-y mermaid to wind up an unsuspecting human. This became the scene where Penelope and Peter first meet. Everything else was added to round out the story.

 

Which character(s) do you most identify with and why?

Ahhhh, the characters. Well, first of all, I’m in love with Penelope. Now, before folks point fingers and say I’m a Pygmalion wanna-be, it must be noted that Penelope’s character undergoes some changes as the story progresses. She goes from a tragic figure wanting to end it all, to a smart aleck jokester, to an ice queen. From there she becomes a good friend and finally a very warm and loving person emerges from the chrysalis.

It has been rumored that I am actually Peter and nothing can be further from the truth. I did take some events from my youth and dial them up a bit but that’s pretty much it. For example, a girl agrees to go to the prom with him as a mercy date and cuts him loose after one dance. In my case, it was about three dances, so as you can see, there’s no similarity at all. Peter is a really good guy and I wish sometimes that I was even half as great a person as he is.

Finally, there’s Penelope’s mom, Ilene. She is such a warm, motherly person that you can’t help but like her. It’s a pity she wasn’t my mother-in-law. Ilene is a composite of several mothers I’ve had the good fortune to know. She’s an over-the-top kind of person who serves as a counterpoint to her grumpy husband.

 

What is your writing process like?

The process begins with my “bed-time stories”. I run this back & forth, add, subtract and embellish. It graduates to something I edit and re-edit during the day until I finally put it down in bits and bytes via the venerable method of hunt and peck. Overall, most of the work is done before I sit down at the keyboard.

 

What do you snack on while you write?

Everything that’s bad for me. And peanuts, plenty of peanuts.

 

What are some of your favorite books? Who are some of your favorite authors?

Books: Anything in the ‘Rebus’ series by Ian Rankin. (Heck, anything by Ian Rankin!) The Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, Bored of the Rings…

Authors: Ian Rankin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Florence King, Emm Cole, S.K. Munt, Evelyn Waugh, Tom Wolfe, T.R. Pearson, Sharyn McCrumb

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

The operative word here is ‘like’. I like having a full-time job though I seem to spend most of my spare time commuting between my home in Charlottesville and my home in Hopewell, VA. The job helps to pay for my pipe collecting hobby. I have around 500 now so I’m obviously not the least bit obsessive about it.

I’d like to get back to hiking but my knees tell me that my days on the Appalachian Trail are over. I’d like to canoe more but my back tells me this is a non-starter as well. There’s always Scottish activities, heraldry, and history. Oh yeah, there’s sleeping, too. I really like that one. It brings me full circle to my writing.

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Thanks for stopping by, Howard! You can read my review of his book HERE.

Connect with Howard at his website or at The Colony Island website.

The book is Urban Mermaid

UrbanMermaid-cover

Available at Amazon

Book Summary

Penelope Anne Tench dreams of finding a mate and having a family someday like most females, with or without scales. She has searched for years, but neither love nor happiness seem destined to come her way. She’s about to give up on life completely when she decides to have a bit of fun by playing a joke on an unsuspecting young man—and reveals her true form. Her prank comes back to haunt her when she reports for work at her new job the next morning, is introduced to Peter MacPherson, and they immediately recognize each other from the previous day. He assures her he’ll keep her secret safe, but she is hesitant to trust him at first, as mermaids are warned not to consort with humans.

With Peter’s help, over the next few months Penelope begins enjoying being a mermaid again—and develops feelings for Peter. So, she takes a leap of faith and gets into bed with a human. She returns to her home on Colony Island after several years away to introduce her chosen mate to her parents. Will Penelope’s mother and father accept or reject him? Will Peter be welcomed or spurned by the mermaid community? The two young lovers are determined to face whatever obstacles they may encounter to make a life together.

 


Excerpt

Now was the time. Penelope had agonized over which part to say first, but either way, it was probably going to be a lose-lose situation. Poseidon, give me strength! “Well, there is a way, the only way, really…you could become one of us. You could even become my mate.”

Penelope almost wanted to look away. She had just torpedoed her relationship with the love of her life and it was more than she could bear to watch.

“You guys can do that?” he asked with an incredulous look on his face.

“Uh huh,” Penelope replied, slowly nodding her head. She was suddenly holding her breath. Peter had focused on the first part and totally missed the fact that she had essentially proposed to him. No going back now. The catfish was out of the net.

Peter stared off into space with a distant look in his eyes. After about fifteen seconds, he said, “Wow! Become a merman? Be able to live under water and really swim with you? Penelope, that would be amazing. Okay. You’ve got me. I’m in!”

Whatever response she may have anticipated, this was the very last thing Penelope had expected him to say, and now it was her turn to be incredulous.

What? Is that all the consideration you’re going to give this? You don’t even know what this entails.”

Peter looked at her and said, “Fair point. So, does this change involve radical surgery?”

“No.”

“Do I have to wrestle a shark?”

“No.”

“Do I have to drink fish blood?”

“Umm, no.”

“Well, what then?”

“I don’t know. It’s not like they do this in the middle of Main Street. The only human I’ve ever known who became one of us was Ed Waterman’s mate, Gail. She was such a wonderful, sweet person. It’s a shame she’s gone now and I can’t ask her.”

“Well, Pen, if Gail could handle this, don’t you think I’m capable of doing whatever it takes?”

“Sweetheart, I’m really touched…touched and flattered you would so willingly do this, but you need to understand it would be permanent. There’s no going back.”

“Oh, crap! I dropped my pen. I don’t want it to bleed onto the carpet.” Crouching, Peter began to fish around under the couch. “Please go on, honey. Believe me, I’m listening to every single word you say.”

Penelope sighed. “Peter, this is not like a club you can drop out of if you lose interest. It’s not like a magazine subscription you can cancel when you’re tired of it. You really need to give this some serious thought.”

“Ahhh. Found it!”

Peter started to climb back onto the couch but stopped with one knee on the floor and looked Penelope in the eye. “My love, believe me. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and this is what I’ve come up with.”

Penelope was suddenly mesmerized by the small velvet box in the palm of his hand. When he opened it, she gasped.

“It’s…it’s a ring.” She glanced at him for a fraction of a second before continuing. “It’s…an engagement ring! I’m going to be a bride!”

Suddenly, Penelope began bouncing on the couch, and in a childish singsong voice, chanted, “I get to be a bride! I’m going to be a bride!”

Peter threw back his head and laughed. “Miss Penelope Anne Tench, may I take that as a yes, you will marry me?”

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