Parks is currently looking for a children’s book author and a short story writer.
Tom Parks has been a writer and an educator and now a television host. “In Search of the West Texas Wordsmith” will begin airing at 3 p.m. on Saturdays starting May 4.
The interview show will be filmed at the Hotel Settles in Big Spring and feature Parks interviewing local poets, novelists, short story writers, and songwriters. Produced in cooperation with Kathryn Copeland of the Permian Basin Poetry Society, the show is directed by award-winning filmmaker James Fite.
The idea came from watching “Central Texas Gardener” every Saturday at noon, Parks told the Odessa American. ‘“It’s out of Austin and it’s on PBS. I’ve enjoyed watching it and I thought, ‘What about West Texas?’ We don’t have that many gardens as they have in Austin,” Parks said. However, Parks said he knew of at least three strong, active writers’ organizations. “So I thought ... that would be a good topic ... to interview a different writer every week, so I ... pursued it from there and went to the Marie Hall Foundation for possible funding,” Parks said.
The foundation was interested in the show. Parks applied and was funded for $20,000. “It’s a good strong start that will pay for thirteen weekly episodes, which is sort of a season in television. We’re hoping to get funding for thirteen more,” Parks said.
The executive director of Basin PBS television, Laura Wolf, has viewed the pilot episode and committed to broadcasting the entire series on weekends. She commented that the series is likely to be picked up by PBS stations in El Paso and other locales around Texas. The current estimate of Basin PBS viewership is 340,000 weekly.
Parks’s first interview is with Gardendale novelist Ann Swann. Swann said the fourth book in her Phantoms series, Stevie-Girl and the Phantom of Forever, was released this week by 5 Prince Books. She said it’s a “clean, teen read.”
Other interviews Parks has lined up include songwriter Harry Nutter; poet Loretta Diane Walker; non-fiction and fiction author Glen Aaron; science fiction writer Joshua Simpson; writer, journalist, editor, and publisher Mark McDonald; self-help counseling writer Stephanie Moses; and Copeland, an activist and advocate of the arts.
When the process for the show started, Basin PBS didn’t have a studio. They got one, but it was under construction, so Parks said he wrote a letter to the owner of the Hotel Settles and asked him if they could do all the filming there and give the owner credit at the end. The owner thought it would be a good swap and Parks said it’s worked very well. “They’ve been totally cooperative,” he said.
“We are looking for West Texas writers to interview on camera in every genre,” said series host Tom Parks, “including novelists, poets, songwriters, journalists, playwrights, screen writers – fiction and non-fiction.” He’s currently looking for a children’s book author and short story writer.