P.J. Parrish is the New York Times bestselling author of ten Louis Kincaid and Joe Frye thrillers. The author is actually two sisters, Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols. Their books have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists. The series has garnered 11 major crime-fiction awards, and an Edgar® nomination. Parrish has won two Shamus awards, one Anthony and one International Thriller competition. Her books have been published throughout Europe and Asia.
Parrish's short stories have also appeared in many anthologies, including two published by Mystery Writers of America, edited by Harlan Coben and the late Stuart Kaminsky. Their stories have also appeared in Akashic Books acclaimed Detroit Noir, and in Ellery Queen Magazine. Most recently, they contributed an essay to a special edition of Edgar Allan Poe's works edited by Michael Connelly.
Before turning to writing full time, Kristy Montee was a newspaper editor and dance critic for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. Nichols previously was a blackjack dealer and then a human resources specialist in the casino industry. Montee lives in Fort Lauderdale and Nichols resides in Houghton Lake, Michigan.
The sisters were writers as kids, albeit with different styles: Kelly's first attempt at fiction at age 11 was titled The Kill. Kristy's at 13 was The Cat Who Understood. Not much has changed: Kelly now tends to handle the gory stuff and Kristy the character development. But the collaboration is a smooth one, thanks to lots of ego suppression, good wine, and marathon phone calls via Skype.
The first ten books in the series, in order, are: Dark of the Moon, Dead of Winter, Paint it Black, Thicker than Water, Island of Bones, A Killing Rain, An Unquiet Grave, A Thousand Bones, South of Hell and The Little Death.
My Writing Life, by Kris Montee
I have been writing since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. My first professional effort was "The Parkwood Banner," a newspaper about the street where I lived when I was in fourth grade. I sold it for 3 cents an issue and made enough to keep me in Good Humor bars. Later, in eighth grade, I turned to fiction, writing a short story called "The Cat Who Understood." My teacher, Miss Gentry, was the first person who told me I could write. I believed her.
Much later, armed with a useless teaching degree, I got a job on a suburban Detroit weekly as the Women's Editor (that's what they called feature sections in my salad days). I won an award and in 1972 landed a job at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale where I was named women's editor, fired, rehired, and went on to do everything from police reporter to ballet critic to Sunday editor. One day, I looked up and was Assistant Managing Editor and the only thing I was writing was personnel evaluations. So I tried to write a romance novel at night. It ended up getting plucked out of a slush pile and published. I wrote three more "contemporary women's fiction" novels, (i.e. family sagas with sex scenes), got caught in a coup d'etat at the publishing house and was "released."
I moped for a year and my husband told me to start writing again or get a job. I found an agent who wisely told me to ditch romance novels and switch to mystery novels. Turns out that was a good idea, because there are a lot more ways to kill people than there are to have sex. I teamed up with my sister Kelly Nichols and we created our biracial cop-hero Louis Kincaid. Louis has helped us get on the New York Times bestseller list and get nominated for an Edgar, Shamus and Anthony. I love him, my husband Daniel, my dogs Bailey and Phoebe, and my cat Lucy. As for free time, I don't have much (in addition to the novels, I just completed a two year term as president of the South Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America). If I did, I would be hiking in Europe, reading, writing more short stories, or playing my baby grand. (While Kelly plays with her new grandbaby).
My Writing Life, by Kelly Nichols
My first literary effort was to kill off all the Beatles in a thriller that took place in about four pages and ended with arrest of their manager as the villain. Since I was ten, the only editor and reader was my father, who dutifully wrote Good Job! on the cover page. That was enough to keep me going, and by junior high, I was writing stories in spiral notebooks (well, actually the same story with the same characters who had endless high school exploits, complete with gang fights, knife slashes and an occasional dead body.) My feedback during this phase was "How can you write this stuff...Ewww!"
My life turn took a real life turn of its own when I married and spent the next twenty years raising children and learning the casino business from the blackjack table to Employee Relations. But the urge to create a very different and far more exciting fictional world never really let go. By the time the kids were in all in school, I was back to the spiral notebooks, and eventually progressed to a $99 typewriter, where I literally pounded out a two-finger southern romance and inundated my mother with ideas, characters and aspirations until the wee hours of the Arizona mornings. Feedback here was close to "Dear Author, your manuscript does not fit our needs at this time."
When I found myself single, and living in a town rich with a criminal history of its own, and all my children out of the house, I tried again, giving birth to our current character (and our bread and butter) Louis Kincaid. This period coincided with Kristy's husband telling her to either write again or go get a real job. Faced with that, we teamed up and finished our first novel together, titled Dark of the Moon. I don't have to tell you what the feedback here was, since we have now published ten Louis Kincaid novels. It has been an interesting journey, ending up right back I started. Writing endless adventures with the same character and showing it first to a member of the family. After over 50 movies in my lifetime, I have finally returned home to Michigan and settled into a cabin on a lake. I spend the snowy days writing, watching football and listening to the buzz of snowmobiles. In the summer, I take to the highways and rediscover the beautiful state I loved so much as a child.