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Joan Parker Delights Readers in North Reading

Robert B. Parker's widow, Joan Parker, visits the Flint Memorial Library as part of the town's tribute to the "Dean of American Crime Fiction" during North Reading Reads 2013.

Deciding on a town-wide read can be daunting. What will appeal to everyone? Are there enough events to support one book or topic? After bouncing around several ideas, the Friends of the Library and Flint Memorial Library staff decided on a topic that almost everyone in Massachusetts knows—Robert B. Parker, the Dean of American Crime Fiction.

This was a special project for me in particular, as I was—and am—a big Parker fan. Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall... I've read and loved them all.

So I jumped into the fray and started researching event ideas. Tom Selleck's agent? Speaking request sent. Avery Brooks Google search? Complete. Critiques of Spenser novels? Check.

Then it was Facebook time. Parker's estate has a Facebook page that continues to update with news of new Spenser and Jesse Stone novels, so I thought I'd try to reach out to them. Maybe they'd like to take part in our little Robert B. Parker tribute.

Within hours, I had my answer. Not only did they want to take part, but Mrs. Joan Parker herself, Bob's widow, wished to speak to me and set things up!!

I was able to visit with Joan at her Cambridge home, and sit in Bob's office, where he wrote so many of the novels I love. We talked all about Bob and his books, their lives together (and not together) and their dogs. We talked about my own writing and with a smile, she promised me that if Bob was sitting with them (and maybe he was?), he would say to me: "Write the book you want to write."

I hold onto that memory and hope that one day, I will indeed do what Bob and Joan Parker advised.

Until then, I share and this hour-long video of Joan's visit with us in North Reading—as she did take part in our "crown jewel" North Reading Reads event in March—at the Flint Memorial Library.

This blog originally appeared on my personal blog: sweetpea fiction.

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