Keller grad publishes first novel

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Josh Parry doesn’t remember how many times he submitted his first novel to publishing houses.

Over the course of several years, he toiled away writing and rewriting. Parry took advice from editors who told him ways to improve his work. He was just about to self-publish his science fiction tale when he got word that Tor Books, the science fiction imprint for Macmillan Publishers, was interested.

“Of course they wanted one more rewrite,” Parry said.

Perseverance paid off for the 2003 Keller High grad. His first novel, a thriller about global bio-terrorism called “Virus Thirteen,” was published on March 26. Parry visited the Keller area April 5 to sign books and meet fans at the Keller Parkway and Alliance Kroger stores.

Despite his success, writing has not been Parry’s main vocation in recent years. He just started his residency in orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

In a way, the writing and the medical degree have gone hand in hand. He didn’t decide to apply for medical school until his senior year at the University of Texas at Austin. Most students take the Medical College Admissions Test late junior year to have time to be admitted to medical school for the fall after their senior year.

For Parry, the late decision meant he had a year off. “I had always wanted to write a book, but I never had time before.”

Between school, work and playing hockey, first for the Keller ISD Hockey Team and then for the UT club team, his schedule had been full. He invested a lot of time in writing his first book during the year off and finished it just days before heading off to the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Then came the long string of rejections. He did his editing and rewriting mostly over school breaks. “It’s great to finally have the finished product,” Parry said.

Now he is working his book tour around his residency and hopes to continue writing around the demanding schedule.

He doesn’t want to have to choose between doctor and novelist. “I like both,” he said. “One uses the left side of the brain and one uses the right.”

At his Keller book signing, several KISD teachers who had influenced him showed up to visit with the author.

Shady Grove teacher Polly Soulsby, who taught Parry in third grade, was his favorite teacher in elementary school. He still remembers her telling him, “I like the way your brain works.”

Soulsby said Parry’s success is not surprising. “He had all of the skills. All the things we did in our room sparked a lot of interest,” she said. “I knew there was great potential.”

Keller High English teacher Mary Jo Zell and a creative writing class he took from a teacher no longer in the district helped inspire his love for writing. Zell and science teacher Brian Zaring stopped in at the book signing.

Parry credits Zaring with sparking his interest in becoming an orthopedic doctor through an anatomy class. “Being involved in sports, I was really fascinated by the musculoskeletal system and its problems,” he said.

At the Keller book signing, a steady stream of friends and neighbors visited with Parry, purchased his book and got his autograph.

As she paused a moment from videotaping the event, mom Elaine Parry said, “I’m so proud my mouth hurts from smiling.”

She remembers his first book as a first grader at Shady Grove Elementary, part of the school’s “Great Books Factory.” It was about a runaway turkey at Thanksgiving. Parry recently rewrote it as a Thanksgiving poem.

Parry is working towards a long career in writing. He just finished his second book and has plot summaries for several more.

“I don’t plan on stopping,” he said. “I just need the time.”

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