Kate Parker grew up reading her mother’s collection of mystery books and her father’s library of history and biography books. Now she can’t write a story that isn’t set in the past with a few decent corpses littered about.
Tragedy behind the story
One of the issues Kate addresses in Murder at the Marlowe Club is cocaine usage. She noted that, in the story’s time period, cocaine usage was legal, but had fallen out of favor. In fact, a few years prior to the story’s time period cocaine was an ingredient in Coca Cola.
“Cocaine was considered a stimulant much like caffeine, and the effects of addiction were not recognized,” Kate said. “Compare that to today’s war on drugs led by the CDC, where doctors are being told how much morphine they can prescribe to their patients.”
In fact, Kate had firsthand experience with today’s restrictions. Her husband was exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Not only had he been forced into a medical retirement due to severe pain that had spread throughout his body, but he also had congestive heart failure.
“My husband had been treated successfully for the pain for nearly fifteen years with morphine, which he described as a constant full body toothache every minute of every day. Nerve transplants were ruled out early on. Morphine made possible a quality of life he couldn’t have without some kind of heavy duty pain relief. And then the CDC told his doctors he couldn’t have morphine any more because other doctors were giving it to patients who didn’t have debilitating pain. They began to wean him off pain medication very slowly, but once they got below a certain level, my husband was in constant pain. As they continued to lower his dosage, we made plans to move to another state, Colorado, where pain management doctors have been doing work with everything from acupuncture to lasers and sonar.
“Unfortunately, my husband’s weakened heart gave out a week before we moved in search of relief for his pain. Relief that wouldn’t be removed by the federal government. I understand the CDC’s desire to stop indiscriminate use of narcotics. I don’t understand a one size fits all approach to a disease they don’t understand. I believe he died from the strain of the pain.
“So I wanted to explore a time when narcotics were still legal. I found that since none of my characters suffered from a disease like my husband’s, a lot of my characters spoke out against cocaine usage. I hadn’t expected that, but this position makes sense for the characters in my story.”
Making up stories—a job she loves
Kate said, “The opening scene in Murder at the Marlowe Club, with the rain and the early morning chill, with the scantily clad body lying dead in the gazebo, came to me with such clarity that the book grew from that moment. I love making up stories, and I love sharing them. That’s why I write, to give enjoyment to others. I made up the Gates family because I love stories about capers and con men, and the very proper Emily was created as the scandalized member of the family who wants nothing to do with their way of life. I had so much fun with this large, loving family that I named them after a coworker who has enthusiastically encouraged my writing from the beginning. I’m not sure he was honored to give his name to a bunch of crooks, but he didn’t mind. ”
“The most enjoyable thing I do when I’m researching is spending time in the British Library reading old newspapers from that time. Perhaps it’s because I’m the daughter of a newspaperman, but I can submerge myself in the times by reading the newspapers, particularly the advertisements. I can tell from them what was important to people, how they lived, and when fashions changed.
“Once, I was sitting in a church in Bern, Switzerland with my daughter. We were enjoying the quiet in this beautiful setting when a man in a trench coat walked hesitantly down the aisle. As he passed our pew, I could see the knife sticking out of his back. I told my daughter about the knife, who said, ‘Wow. Now I know why you write what you do.’”
Learn more about Kate Parker at kateparkerbooks.com.