"Author Parks piles too much on Gwen Marcey's shoulders. The forensic artist is loaded down with a snide ex-husband, a bratty teen daughter, and is a breast cancer survivor. Her feats of physical exertion were just unbelievable for this reader."
I quoted this comment because it wasn't the first time someone had said this. I mean, really? Could someone reasonably have had all those problems I dumped on my character at once? And been able to do all that she did?
The funny thing about this is that it never occurred to me that Gwen was going through more than she could handle. After all, my life is somewhat of the template for Gwen. Gwen was two months from her last chemo treatment when the story opens. The picture of me (yeah, that's me. Not Uncle Fester from the Adams Family,) is about three months into chemo. Two weeks after my last chemo treatment, September 15, 2004, I drove from North Idaho to Sacramento, taught five workshops for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International.) I had a booth for those three days, then drove from Sacramento to San Jose and taught a 40-hour series of forensic classes, followed by a two day art show. Then I drove home.
While going through chemo, every other week for four months, I continued to work on art, writing, and teaching forensic classes. My mom was dying of emphysema and I took care of her for dinner Monday through Friday, weekends, and holidays. I ran our kennel of Great Pyrenees and continued to work on our ranch.
Stamina? I didn't think about it. I did what I had to do. I had to work. I had to take care of mom. Gwen is the same.
As for lousy ex-husbands, mine took the cake. We were divorced after almost fifteen years of marriage (much like Gwen.) He remarried. Then killed his wife. He's serving 16 years to life in prison.
I guess for a lot of folks, Gwen has more than her fair share of problems, but I don't think they are unreasonable. No one said life was easy. It's how you go through life, how you persevere, keep faith, and have the right attitude that gets you through the troubling times.
I posted Hebrews 12:1 on my refrigerator. It's still there. The last line you'll see in my books, because it's one of the things that got me through:
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
And Hebrews 12:2 completes the thought:
"looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
I started working in forensic art in 1981. Yeah, I know, a long time ago. Long before anyone had ever even heard of forensics, let alone had television, books, movies, you name it on the topic.
I worked for the North Idaho Regional Crime Lab in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’d
like to say I was hired because I was a brilliant and gifted artist with
Sherlock Holmes-like sleuthing abilities. Actually, I was hired because my dad was the director of the crime lab. He always claimed I was the best artist he knew. I think I was the only artist he knew. The crime lab handled physical
evidence from the ten northern counties of Idaho, the Department of Fish and Game, the FBI, and any agency that requested our services. My initial duties were to prepare the trial charts and hold the stupid end of the tape measure at crime scenes. In the spring of 1985, the FBI offered their second class on forensic art (the first class was held in the fall of 1984.) My dad asked me if I was interested in attending. Me. At the FBI Academy? Waaaahooooo! Off I tromped for the two-week course. I returned with a wonderful skill: composite drawing, and a friend who would later become my husband: Rick.
I was one of the first forensic artists in the Pacific Northwest,
and the first FBI trained forensic artist in Idaho. Like any new service, it was
necessary to let the law enforcement agencies know of my existence and range of abilities. The members of the crime lab traveled across Idaho giving talks and demonstrations of the various forensic services available to them. I set my sights on Spokane, Washington, just an hour away from my home.
Spokane sits near the Idaho-Washington border and boasts a
population of about 300,000. I requested a meeting with the chief of police. I wasn’t sure how well my free-hand sketches would go over. Spokane was still reeling from the shattering crime wave of Kevin Coe (Frederick Harlan Coe,) the South Hill Rapist, made famous by the book Son:
A Psychopath and his Victims, by Jack Olsen. An Identikit composite had been rendered without results. The chief, however, was excited about this new skill and within a few months, Spokane had a new forensic artist.
Now back to you. Do you want to hear more about my cases?
Fine artist, forensic artist, author.