Interview with Author Stephen Parkes

1.Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing?

These days my wife and I live on a small hobby farm/ranch in rural South Dakota. It’s a very quiet place and my closest neighbors are miles away. We have about 12 acres in alphalfa and grass and we rescue animals of all sizes and shapes, turning some of the critters over to an agency that specializes in placing abandoned animals in forever homes across the upper mid-west.

We do keep some of the animals we find, though. Presently, we have fourteen pets including dogs, cats, horses and cows.

I’ve been writing most of my adult life. I earned a law degree in 1994. That education forced me to become a researcher and a writer. The work which followed that education just made my skills better.

Writing nonfiction seemed a natural fit with the types of writing I had long been doing.

2. What inspired you to write your book(s)?

I like to tell stories and I had a couple of good stories to tell. Writing books fulfills this desire of mine.

3. What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book(s)?

The two companion books, The Soldier and On A Cold Day In Hell, ultimately, lead to a single conclusion, that other people are capable of great acts of compassion and charity for even the least among us.

Same goes for a couple of short stories I wrote, Beyond The Tolbooth and The Devil’s Agent.

4. What drew you into nonfiction?

I find reality far more interesting than worlds imagined.

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5. What is one of the biggest issues facing prisoners and the criminal justice system today in your opinion?

The U.S. Department of Justice informs that the U.S. recidivism rate, the rate at which criminals re-offend following their release from custody, is 77%. In other words, more than three-quarters of all criminals are re-arrested for a new crime less than five years following their release. This is appalling, and considering that crime is a choice, leads to the inescapable conclusion that the single biggest issue facing prisoners today is their inability to stop committing crimes. With exceptions made for the chronic emotionally and mentally disturbed, and casting aside ignorant notions concerning wealth, education, skin color, ethnicity, business acumen, or privilege, this alarming statistic is occasioned universally by a criminal’s apparent lack of conscience. They simply do not care. Unless criminals grow a conscience while they are in prison, they are coming back. And this regardless of wealth, education, skin color, ethnicity, business acumen, or privilege.

Did you know that there are prison programs that match convicts with rescue animals? Did you know that some of these programs maintain a zero% recidivism rate?

The problems governing federal and state penal institutions are many, including, but not limited to, overcrowding, lack of financial resources and lack of empathy training.

6. What social media site has been most helpful in developing your readership?

I do not use, nor do I find it desirable or necessary to use social media for any aspect of my personal or business life. I have zero social media footprint.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting out authors out there?

If you’re going to write nonfiction, before you begin you must become a subject matter expert.

8. What does the future hold for you?

Hope.

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

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On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Readers get a dark, heartbreaking and emotional roller coaster of a story as the man readers met in The Soldier faces a criminal trial for a crime he committed while in the throws of addiction, and in the process highlights some of our world’s most difficult and inescapable truths in author Stephen Parkes novel “On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

The stakes couldn’t be any higher. Stephen Parkes, a former Airborne Ranger and law school graduate, has been charged with a brutal crime. A career prosecutor has made him an offer of thirty years in return for a guilty plea. He has a hanging judge and his own public defender wants him to die in prison. The circumstances have never been grimmer.

So, he decides to take matters into his own hands. He drops more than eight feet into a noose. His heart stops beating. His lungs stop breathing. 

But, somehow, Stephen Parkes lives. 

Fresh off his own gallows, his problems are only beginning. Parkes is as guilty as sin. The case against him is perfect. Undeterred, Parkes fights back, hoping to be set free. The odds against him are impossible.

Set against a background of horrid child abuse, pitiful drug addiction, and brutal crimes, On A Cold Day In Hell provides a scathing indictment of the American judicial system, demonstrates the emptiness of mandatory minimum sentencing, and gives a first-hand look at the consequences of the unthinking cruelty payed out to a minor child at the hands of a Catholic priest. 

Part jailhouse lawyer, part convict and all human, Stephen Parkes stands his ground and makes his own case for freedom, which can only be found On A Cold Day In Hell.

The Review

This was a dark look into the troubled life of Stephen Parkes. Written both eloquently and with wit, the author brings readers into the harsh reality of his life, which many across the world can relate to. A history of abuse, drug addiction and mental health problems plague this man, which turns him to a life of crime. While readers will be able to see that the crimes themselves were inexcusable, the author’s first hand account and painful ordeal showcases a true injustice in our society. Rather than help those suffering with addiction or mental health, it is more common to just throw them in jail with no means of helping or changing their lives around for the better. It showcases a never ending system of violence, abuse and addiction both within and outside of the criminal justice system.

It was interesting to see the perspective of the man underneath the criminal persona given to him in life. A highly intelligent man with a knowledge of the law himself and a former Army Ranger, the hardships and mental strain of childhood trauma and the resulting mental health problems that arose showcase a man divided between himself and the addict that took over his life. It’s a story of fighting for the truth and finding ways to help those who suffer rather than punish and then throw away, forgotten and abandoned as they were in life.

The Verdict

This was a powerful read that any true crime, non fiction and criminal justice/mental health advocate would be interested in. With bits of humor, a use of imagery that really brings the cold reality of life in prison and the affects of abuse/addiction on anyone in this world, and a compelling story that also touches on the struggle with suicidial thoughts that often plague those who have lost all hope, and the need to help those going through that kind of pain. It’s an emotional and heart pounding read that you should check out for yourself, so be sure to read On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other” by Stephen Parkes today.

Rating: 10/10