“If you rely on a cushion, then you aren’t going to hustle, and so my whole mantra is, ‘Never look back,’” she explains.
It is an attitude that served her well when she decided to leave a steady newspaper gig to freelance full time. (In six months, she had her big break: a story on the then-yet-to-be Clinton Presidential Center in The Economist.) And it’s an attitude that forced Parker to finish Echo Ellis: Adventures of a Girl Reporter, her first self-published novel, out in paperback this month. Although she’d already written two nonfiction books, fiction presented much more of a challenge for the longtime journalist, even though the novel is set in her native Arkansas. But Parker finishes what she starts—even if, as in this case, it takes more than a decade. The sequel won’t take nearly as long, she says.
“I left this [story] hanging, so there has to be another. I tricked myself. I set myself up. That’s what I do.”