It should have been an otherwise uneventful Sunday morning for Charleston attorney Noah Parks. Perhaps a trip to the beach or a run with his new Australian Shepherd, Austin. But with a cryptic voicemail, everything changes.
A client has vanished, leaving nothing behind as a clue to where he may be. Neither his family, friends, nor neighbors are able to provide help.
Turning to his friend Emmett Gabriel, Charleston’s newest police detective, Parks can only watch as what started with a simple voicemail takes on a sinister life of its own.
Parks soon finds himself entangled in an affair that spans centuries, going back to the time of Charleston’s birth.
With a focus on learning his client’s fate, Parks will soon find himself facing a mystery that will not only be a test of his wits but leaves him challenged in ways he never imagined.
Facing down twists, turns, betrayals, and traditions of honor, will he break The Code?
Read on for an interview with Sean Keefer, author of The Code.
S.R.: What inspired you to write The Code?
S.K.: Following the publication of my second book, The Solicitor, I was in the process of deciding the next step for Noah Parks, the main character in my books. I had been doing some reading on a topic that came up in conversation with friends and started to ponder the idea of having a mystery within a mystery. My books are all murder mysteries, but I was looking to dig a bit deeper. So I began to research the topic, and an idea for a historical mystery that could be used as a tie-in for present-day murders developed.
As I was researching, I started to consider the timing of the story. My books are serialized, so initially, it had been intended to be a follow-up to The Solicitor, but as I was beginning to plot out the book, the idea for a prequel came to me. I had been interested in the backstory of the characters, so this allowed me to explore those.
S.R.: How did you first come up with your protagonist, Noah Parks?
S.K.: When I first began writing the Noah Parks Mystery Series, it was my goal to write legal thrillers as I have always loved the genre. At the time I began the work on my first book, The Trust, I’d been practicing law for about 5 years. There was no other thought given to the main character being other than a Charleston attorney, so from this, Noah Parks was created based on the knowledge and experience I had in the field of law at the time. As I have furthered my legal career, so has Noah.
S.R.: What sort of research did you do when writing The Code? Any fun tidbits or unexpected things you learned while researching?
S.K.: The research in my first two books was largely limited to points of historical accuracy related to buildings or settings. However, The Code was born of research. I knew The Code would be a murder mystery—I mean, that’s what I write. But I wanted something more. As such, I read a number of books on the topic for which I wanted as the backdrop. I interviewed several experts in the field, attended lectures, and even visited curators at a local museum to get a first-hand look at some of the items related to, and that actually make up the historical context of The Code.
While I was working through the research process, I learned a great deal about Charleston’s history, culture, and what can only be described as a different mindset. As well, I found inspiration for a number of scenes in the book as well as fodder for characters and their names.
Now, I will also point out that if it seems I am being a bit “cryptic” in my description of the research and as to specifics of what I found—well—that is intentional. The reason why is the real meaning behind the mystery, and the title of the book is critical to the plot, and I certainly don’t want to take that away from the reader.
S.R.: What do you hope readers takeawy from The Code?
S.K.: When I set out to write The Code, I didn’t start with any theme or message I wanted to convey to the reader, but as the plot developed, it became apparent to me that this was a book about conviction and the idea that just because something is a conviction for one person—no matter how strongly rooted that conviction maybe—it may not be something that others are prepared to accept.
S.R.: You’re a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, in addition to being an author. How has music influenced your writing?
S.K.: I am asked quite often how being a musician and a writer work together. The answer is that the two are dangerous bookends. Both are storytelling, but what works for one can be the downfall of the other. For instance, in a novel, I have between 80,000–85,000 words to tell my story. The last song I wrote had 120 words and it tells a complete tale.
So I have to be careful not to let one bleed into the other.
That being said, the most beneficial thing my music has brought to my fiction writing has been the idea of plotting or planning. With songs, I find the best ones start a very detailed idea, a roadmap—where I am starting, where I will travel, and where I will end up. Sure, there may be a bridge that pops up that I have to cross, but it is still on the journey that I had mapped out.
I have been working to bring this to my writing. Of course, there may be a detour to see something we learned of on the way, but with a predefined structure, my non-songwriting writing has become stronger.
As an added bonus, I’ve had a few song ideas come from The Code.
S.R.: What are you working on next?
S.K.: I am presently researching two separate parts of South Carolina history that will form the foundation for the next Noah Parks novel. Interestingly enough, I, quite by accident, dropped an idea in The Code that was completely unintentional. A reader asked me about it, and I realized it was a perfect tie-in to the research I was doing. No title as of yet, but the project has begun.
Purchase your copy of The Code here.
Sean Keefer is the award winning author of three legal thrillers, The Trust, The Solicitor, and The Code, all set in and around coastal South Carolina.
He is also the author of Mediation in the Family Courts of South Carolina, a legal treatise on family law mediation.
He lives and writes in Charleston, South Carolina.
In addition to his writing, Sean is a recording and performing guitarist/singer/songwriter of Americana and Alt-Country music. Watch him sing Carolina Sunset which was inspired by his latest book, The Code. Listen here!
For more information about his writing and music, visit SeanKeefer.com and ADogNamedBear.com. Follow him on Facebook @theNoahParksMysterySeries and @SeanKeeferMusic. Follow him on Instagram @NoahParksMysteries and @1ADogNamedBear1.