Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Introducing Will Parker

I said in a recent blog entry (“William C. Harris Returns,” 10/31/07) that I have a special admiration for “gentleman authors,” those for whom writing is an avocation. Among Georgia gentleman authors are William C. Harris, William Rawlings, Jr., and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, Ferrol Sams.

Now there’s a new one to add to the list: Andy Harp.

Harp, who lives in Columbus, GA, is a civil trial attorney in a practice built around the representation of injured railroad workers. Prior to entering private practice, he worked as a District Attorney in Cordele, GA. He earned his law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in 1980.

Not only is Harp an attorney, he’s also a retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve colonel. He graduated from American University (which he attended on an athletic scholarship) in 1973 and signed up with the Marines.

As a young officer, he served with both the artillery and a small mountain warfare/arctic instructor survival group. He was a Regimental Battery Commander with the 11th Marines, and became Instructor in Charge of the Instructor Group at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. He also trained in the Arctic Circle and at Fort Greely, Alaska, where a typical day was 44˚ below zero. While in the Arctic and at Bridgeport, he lived in ice caves, rappelled off cliffs and out of helicopters, taught military cross country skiing, and taught both mountain and cold weather survival.

Once his legal career began, Harp continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserves, rising through the ranks to become a colonel.

As a logistics officer he served in South Korea, Central America, the Persian Gulf, Europe, and at the Pentagon where he was assigned to the Secretary of Defense’s Executive Support Center and to Reserve Affairs.

His final posting before retiring saw him serve as the Officer in Charge of the Crisis Action Team for Marine Forces Central Command and Marine Forces Pacific.

In 1997, he was elected National President of the Marine Corps Reserve Officer’s Association. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal.

Now I don’t know much about military service, but I can tell that Harp’s time in the USMCR was action-packed and extraordinary. His bio reads like that of an action hero such as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan or Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that Andy Harp, gentleman author, has just published his first novel and it’s a military/techno thriller titled A Northern Thunder (Bancroft Press, 2007).

In his debut, Harp introduces Will Parker, a Marine reservist plucked from retirement with a mission to infiltrate North Korea and identify the communist country’s leading military scientist, a former roommate of Parker's, who’s developing missile technology to undermine other countries’ satellite surveillance systems.

Parker’s mission is made all the more difficult when the North Koreans dispatch their top assassin to eliminate any international competitors or obstacles that might hinder their deadly project.

Now, Will Parker is not just a retired USMC reservist, he’s also a small-town Georgia lawyer. Who else do we know with such a résumé? Mr. Harp himself of course!

Although I have not yet read A Northern Thunder, I suspect that Harp’s bio gives Will Parker an authenticity that will resonate with readers, particularly those with a military background.

Harp’s plot is well chosen with the North Korean nuclear threat currently looming in the American psyche. The terrifying possibility of North Korea firing a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S. has been played out in the international media for the last few years and international diplomacy has so far failed to come up with a permanent resolution to such a threat. A Northern Thunder has an eerie timeliness about it.

The release of A Northern Thunder will be tomorrow, November 15, at 7PM, at a book signing at Barnes & Noble, 2900 Peachtree Road, in Atlanta’s Buckhead.

In conjunction with the release, Harp has launched the book on the web at, and also with a video book trailer, produced by Hollywood filmmaker Jordan Bloch, on YouTube.

As Harp says in the media press release,
“We wanted to release this book in a big way. While it is fiction, A Northern Thunder exposes some mind-blowing military satellite and other technology that is little known, but certainly in existence…. Even more than being a page-turner, I wanted this book to be realistic.”
Publishers Weekly has said of A Northern Thunder:

“The secondary characters aren’t nearly as convincing as Harp’s descriptions of satellite technology, submersible suits, and the like. But Parker has resilience, foresight, and fortitude to spare, and North Korea’s repressive regime and rugged terrain make for deadly opponents.”
I’m not qualified at this point to offer an opinion as to whether or not Harp has achieved what he set out to. I am just impressed by another “gentleman author” who has, by dint of sheer force of will, written and published a book that may turn out to be a huge seller.

Congratulations to another emerging Georgia author.

[I welcome your comments and questions about this or any other Cover to Cover blog entry. Email me at I look forward to hearing from you.]