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.
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?
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.