Oline Cogdill

Several years ago, I interviewed Brad Parks for a profile that ran in the Spring 2013 edition of Mystery Scene, Issue No. 129.

An evergreen question I often ask authors is: “Where do you write?”

The answer often is surprising. Sure, a lot of authors have an office in their home, or actually go to an office. But some go to coffee shops or social clubs. Some have sheds in their backyards converted to a writing space. One had a guest house built in their backyard. Still another starts in his office but moves throughout the house as the story comes together.

Brad Parks had, perhaps, one of the oddest answers.

He went to his local Hardees.

Here’s an excerpt from that profile:

“By 7 a.m. most mornings, Parks can be found at his local Hardees and, no, he’s not there for the fast food restaurant’s Original Thickburgers. While some authors write at a coffee shop, Parks takes his laptop to Hardees.

““It’s the only fast-food restaurant in the county, said Parks. But there are more important reasons why he writes there. ‘It is not my home and I cannot be distracted [by chores] and it has no wireless internet and that is often my biggest distractor. A thousand words a day and lots of Coke Zero. That’s my plan.’”

Parks’ corner in Hardees has now gained national recognition.

Well, kind of.

In a way.

After the Staunton, Virginia News-Leader recently ran a story about Parks that mentioned his writing space, Hardees responded with a tweet:

“Novelist @Brad_Parks has written seven novels at his local Hardee’s,” Hardee’s tweeted. “His eighth, Closer Than You Know, drops Tuesday and will be a bestseller if it’s the last thing we do.”

The fast food restaurant even started a hastag: #BestsellerBrad.

Parks responded with this tweet: “Can’t believe it. Ten years after I started writing novels there, @Hardees is finally following me. I feel like I’ve won a Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Hardees also took out a full page ad in the News-Leader to show its support.

According to the News-Leader, Hardee’s will present Parks with a commemorative Lifetime Achievement Award plaque, which will likely be put on display on his booth at the Staunton location and personalized business cards, making Parks a Hardee’s ”Resident Novelist.”

“We love hearing about customers doing extraordinary things,” a Hardee’s spokesperson told the News-Leader. ”We nearly fell out of our chairs reading Brad’s story and knew right away we had to do something special for him,” the newspaper reported.

“We’re dedicating the booth Brad used in our local Hardee’s restaurant with a special plaque, and will rally our fans on Twitter to get Brad’s latest work on the bestseller list,” the Hardees spokesman told the News-Leader.

According to the News-Leader, and my interview with him, Parks’ Hardees habit began in 2008 when he and his family were living in Middlesex, Virginia.

Parks wanted to get out of the house to write, far from the distractions of two small children, errands, and normal household interruptions.

“The only place that was open at 6 a.m. was Hardee’s,” stated the News-Leader.

“Hardee’s was really the writing sanctuary,” Parks told the News-Leader.

When Parks and his family moved to Staunton, he continued his writing routine at the local Hardees.

Parks is the author of eight novels, six in his series about newspaper reporter Carter Ross and two standalones, Say Nothing and his latest Closer Than You Know.

Closer Than You Know is a domestic thriller about a woman whose life spirals out of control when her child is taken away from her after she is falsely accused of running one of the largest drug operations in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. My review is here.

As for Parks’ future with Hardees, expect him back there when he starts his new novel.

“The number one rule of writing is: When something works for you, stick with it,” Parks told me in an email. “Hardee’s works for me. I don’t plan on writing anywhere else.”