Writing on DEADLINE

English teacher Parker Lee releases his book

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Insta: @mr_parker_lee

Parker Lee at his very first book signing held at JDCHS/SJBMS library

Family man, english teacher, Dodgers fanatic, school dance photographer, and former journalist, Parker Lee has finally checked writing a book off his college bucket list. On January 26th, 2021, Mr. Lee officially published his first book ‘DEADLINE’. What students and faculty do not know is the extensive process and work which was put in to make this a reality.

As readers grasp the book, they notice the art featured on the cover. This art however, would not have been possible without the help of the class of 2020 alumni, Grace McGowan-Jackson, who worked alongside Parker Lee. “Mr. Lee and I are friends as he used to be my english teacher both freshman and senior year and we grew close during the four years I was at JD,” said McGowan-Jackson. Grace McGowan-Jackson does commissions for her art which is a lengthy process but she was more than willing to put that effort into designing the book cover. “my original idea was to have a giant computer with Shaun facing it so I made the first very rough draft of that. Mr. Lee and I were on the same page so we just went from there, bringing in elements from the book like palm trees and cliffs because it’s set in a coastal town in California and the purple/blue sky because there is an ominous tone to the book once they realize that the book writes the future,” finished McGowan Jackson. What appealed to me the most, is that Parker Lee didn’t tell her what she pictured in his head. “I gave her a general description of the book but I had in my mind what I wanted the cover to look like but I didn’t tell her that, just because I wanted to give her freedom to see what she could come up with,” said Lee. “After I gave her the description, she came back a few weeks with just an initial sketch up. Her initial sketch was EXACTLY what I had in my mind,” finished Mr. Lee. They kept touching base with one another until they got the final version featured in the novel.

Students as they flip pages back and forth notice that there are names in which they recognize, like those of famous snowboarder, Shaun White, and current 2021 senior, Kiana Vandewiele. “I wanted the name of someone who was famous… I liked this concept of someone who was sharing a name with somebody famous, so that they would be overshadowed by this name… from someone not so average,” Lee said. Mr. Lee was writing his book three years ago, which at the time was teaching 9th graders(now 2021 seniors). Needless to say, Mr. Lee grew many bonds with his students, including one with Kiana Vandewiele, who happens to have her name featured in the book. “I picked names of people which I was associating with frequently which were students more than anybody,” Lee said. “Here and there I would pick names that were shared by my students, none of the characters are based off of any students, but I did borrow them… I played with a few names and saw which one fit best with the personality.” finished Mr. Lee. “I’m super happy that Mr. Lee put my name in his book. I asked him to add me into it when I was a freshman in his class. I really never thought he would take it seriously, or actually do it,” senior Kiana Vandewiele said. “I have heard I will make a reappearance in the sequel, and we might have more in common the second time around…I was pretty shocked honestly, I still feel really special… I love Mr. Lee, and the fact that he used my name in his accomplishment means the world to me,” finished Vandewiele.

Mr. Lee holding his own book for the first time. (Parker Lee)

What has surprised Mr. Lee the most is the tremendous amount of support which he has not only received from his family but also students and faculty here at Juan Diego. “I think the book is really well written, I love the storyline he created and the imagination he had to create it. Some things I really enjoyed about the book was that it was a super easy read,” said senior Matty Rodriguez Orellana said. “I dove in and just couldn’t stop reading and I’m not the biggest fan of books. Overall it has been really great for me, just amazing to me that my teacher was the author of the book I’m reading atm and I love supporting his dream,” finished Rodriguez Orellana. “It’s been really cool to see, it was something I wasn’t really expecting,writing a book was something I wanted, I never really thought about what the outside community would think about it. Students have come up to me saying how excited they are for me and… they’ve almost been in tears with how excited they are for me it’s been really cool to see that support to just feel that love has made the thing just more of a crazy experience than what I would’ve thought, I just kind of thought I would have released the book maybe if my family would buy it and that would kind of be it but to have a ton of students saying ‘hey when could I get your book?’ [or] ‘if I buy it will you sign it for me?’ things like that its been really cool to see that outpouring of love,”

Lose yourself in the one and only book written by Parker Lee. Check out a copy either at the JDCHS/SJBMS library, the classroom libraries, or order your own copy through Amazon here OR read a snippet of DEADLINE here !