Samuel Parker’s debut novel, Purgatory Road (Revell) is a thrilling trip through the Mojave Desert. A husband and wife find themselves lost during an excursion in Las Vegas. While held hostage by a desert hermit, their path collides with a runaway seeking shelter from a psychopath. What will escape require of them? Do they have what it takes to survive despite their circumstances and the brutal environment? The author answered a few of our questions…
What inspired this story?
A trip to Las Vegas—life imitates art, and vice versa. My wife and I took a long weekend trip there and spent time traveling in the desert west of Vegas. The landscape itself was inspiring enough to get the mind going. The character of Boots, I will admit, was just a lucky epiphany at the time. I think I could write until the end of my life and struggle to create a character like him again.
This is a fantastical, yet dark story. Are any of the pieces pulled from reality?
The fantastical elements are pure imagination. I did have a case of heat exhaustion as a kid once and the vivid memory of that experience fed into some of the description of what I would imagine the characters would feel like out in the desert.
What sort of research did you conduct for this book?
I shared an early version of the book with a few readers that either lived near the Mojave, Sonoran or Chihuahua Deserts. I was nervous about them reading the story because I was just a quick observer of the environment, but I’ve been told I captured it well.
This novel is really a story of good versus evil. How does your faith inform your writing?
I think as a writer, you need to employ all aspects of your thought process to execute a good story. Nothing should be held back or reserved whether that is memory, ambition, beliefs or doubts.
I also think those same thought processes are constantly growing and changing, evolving and eroding, and so to be conscious of that constant flux and to infuse that into a story brings it to greater life. My beliefs as a child are different than where I am now, just as assuredly as my 80-year-old self will be different. Being comfortable with that idea allows me to pose bizarre questions and carry them to what are, hopefully, interesting and suspenseful conclusions.