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Best-selling novelist T. Jefferson Parker finds inspiration in Fallbrook

Being a writer is hard, especially when weaving together a story that involves real life crime with an enthralling story of fiction. It’s stories like these that leave readers feeling like they have bonded with the characters and instill the desire to want to know more.

After penning bestsellers “Laguna Heat,” “Red Light,” “Silent Joe” and “LA Outlaws,” T. Jefferson Parker, a Fallbrook-based bestselling crime novelist whose writing career began in 1978 as a reporter, is familiar with the demands that come with writing a successful novel.

“I like to see myself as a good entertainer,” said Parker. “I want my readers to typically get a meaningful experience from reading my novels, and feel like they have been through an intense, emotional experience.”

Parker creates his novel characters from bits and pieces of individuals he has known and seen, and pieces together the rest of their personalities from his imagination.

“My characters represent desires,” said Parker. “I want to create characters that are consistent, and whose intents are clear. I want it to be very clear to see what their goals are.”

Because of the emotional investment Parker puts into his novels, there are times he’s not always happy with his characters’ actions or decisions.

“Writing can be emotionally draining, especially when writing a mystery or crime thriller,” said Parker. “There are nights when I lose sleep over what has happened ; I experience distaste. On the other hand, I also experience elation when something good happens to a character that deserves it.”

Parker, who was born in Los Angeles and moved to Fallbrook more than a decade ago, has found inspiration for his latest release, “Iron River,” in the violence and corruption that occurs between Corpus Christi, Texas and San Diego, with the illegal flow of handguns and automatic weapons into Mexico that feed the cartel wars.

Iron River portrays an alcohol, tobacco and firearms team as they work to prevent money and gun flow, but suddenly find themselves in over their heads as they try to protect innocent lives at stake.

While Parker’s story is fictional, the events that inspired his books are altogether too real, he said.

“If something doesn’t radically occur in Mexico, the violence that occurs will visit north of the border sooner rather than later,” said Parker. “People know about the drugs and money that cross the border, but many have a blind spot to the guns that cross into Mexico illegally. I hope this might jolt them into awareness.”

Parker spent countless hours researching material for “Iron River,” which allowed him to give readers more insight as to what truly occurs along the US border.

“While I didn’t have to go undercover, I spent a lot of time in gun shops, and seeing videos of raw data that is available on the Internet,” he said. “Things change every week, so this novel was pretty research-heavy.”

As Parker worked on “Iron River,” he experienced times when he was unsure what should happen next in the series of events.

“I don’t get writer’s block very often, but I have come to a point, I don’t know what the story requires,” said Parker. “Things become murky or hazy because I haven’t figured out what the next step should be.”

“When this happens, I just sit stubbornly and stare at the page and make it cough up the answer,” said Parker laughingly. “If you’re under deadline, you don’t have the luxury of putting off the story for too long. Even though you don’t feel like it, you have to make yourself sit and do battle; otherwise, [the novel] won’t get done. You have to threaten and strong arm the story.”

When not beating his novels into submission, Parker has found comfort in enjoying his Fallbrook home and the amenities afforded him in the friendly community.

“Fallbrook is a good place to write; filled with good people,” said Parker. “It’s an easy place to get along in and raise a family.”

Parker and his family are active participants in community events, as his children attend local schools and participate in recreational activities in town. And he is a frequent patron of one particular Mexican restaurant here.

“I go to Rosa’s almost every day,” he stated. “I could eat gallons of their green salsa.”

Fallbrook has been a good home to Parker, so much so that he was strongly influenced by its beauty and scenery for one of his books.

““Storm Runners” was set in Fallbrook and Bonsall,” said Parker, who added that it may be possible Fallbrook will once again find itself a major player in one of his books. “I get inspired by where I live or travel. [Storm Runners] is my love letter to Fallbrook.”

For those looking for an opportunity to hear Parker read from “Iron River,” Writers Read will present An Evening with T. Jefferson Parker on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. at Cafe des Artistes, 103 S. Main Ave.

For more information on T. Jefferson Parker or any of his novels, visit

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