YA Pioneers: Daniel Parker

YA may have blown up over the past decade, but it used to be a small section of bookstores.  In the early nineties, it consisted mostly of "teen thrillers," which mostly featured dark mysteries and serial killers, although there was some supernatural fare as well.  The authors of those days were ahead of their time and built an audience in teenagers, and paved the way for the YA that is beloved by so many today.

All YA books at this time were sold in mass market paperback format, a cheap way to mass produce books for readers.  It's the same type of smaller paperback format that many mysteries and romance novels are published in today.  They're pretty disposable, and if unsold, rather than ship books back to publishers, bookstores strip the books of their front covers and mail those back for credit, as proof that it hasn't sold.  It's cheaper to do it this way than pay for shipping heavy books.  In the front of these books, there's usually a warning about books with stripped covers in an attempt to deter reselling titles that hadn't actually been paid for by consumers.

YA Pioneers

Daniel Parker began his career in teen thrillers by helping to launch Harper Collins' Baby-Sitter's Nightmares series with his novel Alone in the Dark, on June 1st, 1995.  The series was in an anthology format, and each book would have a different author and would not connect with one another in any way.  The series would last only four volumes, with established authors such as M.C. Sumner contributing books.

It was Daniel Parker's next project that sold me and made me a fan.  The Dark Hearts trilogy from 1996 delved into a fully-realized world of voodoo lore in the heart of New Orleans.  It was atmospheric and meticulously researched, bringing creatures such as loup-garous into the fold of dark magic.  I was blown away by this series, which left quite an impression on me.  There were also a few glossary of terms in the back of the books to define and explain voodoo terms used throughout the series, as well as to translate Creole chants and sayings.

Front CoverThe Countdown series is what most people probably remember Daniel Parker for.  The series followed a group of teens in a post-apocalyptic world, where the adults have all died from a plague.  It would follow a group of characters, drawing on biblical mythology and introducing supernatural/demonic entities such as Lilith into the story.  The books were pretty short (clocking in at about 130 pages each), but it was pretty neat that this series came out every month for a full year, until the conclusion, an epic confrontation that it had been leading toward.  The first book in the series was offered at an introductory price of $1.99, and the entire series advertised a contest for one reader to win $2,000 for the year 2000, to help generate interest, which it certainly did.

Parker would release a novel in the Sweet Sixteen teen romance series (Trent) in 2000 before releasing the first book in The Wessex Papers series in 2002.  About conspiracies and blackmail at a college campus, the series would go on to win the 2003 Edgar Allen Poe Award for Young Adult literature.

Beginning in 2004, Daniel Parker co-wrote a series of young adult mysteries with Lee Miller called Watching Alice.  The series would run for four books before Daniel Parker's run with young adult books would come to an end.

Interestingly enough, Daniel Parker went on to publish books under another name, Daniel Ehrenhaft (which his Daniel Parker books had previously been copyrighted under).  Daniel Ehrenhaft's books go back to nearly the beginning of his career as Daniel Parker, when he co-write the thirteenth book in the Bone Chillers young readers series with Betsy Haynes, The Thing Under My Bed, in 1996.  He wrote several other books for young readers at about the time he was winding down his writing career as Daniel Parker and for years after, including The Last Dog on Earth (2004), 10 Things To Do Before I Die (2006) and That's Life, Samara Brooks (2010).  He would also continue to write YA under the Ehrenhaft name beginning in 2004: Tell It To Naomi, Drawing a Blank, or How I Tried To Solve a Mystery, End a feud, and Land the Girl of My Dreams, The Life After, Dirty Laundry and Friend Is Not a Verb.

Daniel Parker YA titles

Alone In the Dark (Baby-Sitter's Nightmares #1) (1995)
Magic At the Crossroads (Dark Hearts #1) (1996)
Tears of Blood (Dark Hearts #2) (1996)
Dance of Death (Dark Hearts #3) (1996)
Countdown: January (1998)
Countdown: February (1999)
Countdown: March (1999)
Countdown: April (1999)
Countdown: May (1999)
Countdown: June (1999)
Countdown: July (1999)
Countdown: August (1999)
Countdown: September (1999)
Countdown: October (1999)
Countdown: November (1999)
Countdown: December (1999)
Trent (Sweet Sixteen #4) (2000)
Trust Falls (The Wessex Papers #1) (2002)
Fallout (The Wessex Papers #2) (2002)
Outsmart (The Wessex Papers #3) (2002)
Break the Surface (Watching Alice #1) (with Lee Miller) (2004)
Walk on Water (Watching Alice #2) (with Lee Miller) (2004)
Seek the Prophet (Watching Alice #3) (with Lee Miller) (2004)
Find the Miracle (Watching Alice #4) (with Lee Miller) (2005)

YA titles as Daniel Ehrenhaft

Tell It To Naomi (2004)
Drawing a Blank, or How I Tried To Solve a Mystery, End a Feud, and Land the Girl of My Dreams (with Trevor Ristow) (2006)
The Life After (2006)
Dirty Laundry (2008)
Friend Is Not a Verb (2010)

Book Synopsis Samples:

Magic At the Crossroads (Dark Hearts #1)

The Evil Eye looks in Allison's direction.

Allison James can sense evil lurking in the sultry night air of New Orleans.  But the seductive beauty of her new home, and her growing love for Jean-Paul DuFort, keep Allison from running away.

At night Allison's dreams are haunted with vivid and terrifying visions.  During the day she is drawn further into an intoxicating circle of passion and magic.  Allison tries to resist the darkness that surrounds her, but she cannot escape its power.

January (Countdown #1)

Countdown like it's 1999.  Party like there's no tomorrow.  Pray that there will be.

On New Year's Day, it happens:
Over six million people die within twenty-four hours.

The stunned survivors are left to fend for themselves in a world where chaos reigns.  A world with no rules, no order...and no adults.

Because the only people left are teenagers.

Trust Falls (The Wessex Papers #1)

Hey man,

This place is crazy. They (I'm not exactly sure who "they" are, but that oaf of a dorm counselor I told you about is at the top of the list for sure) actually planted chewing tobacco in some kid's bag so that they could expel him. And I thought all I'd have to put up with this year was a bunch of spoiled brats with platinum cards.

James, an evil stench is wafting through the air here at Wessex Academy, and it smells just like a conspiracy.

Gotta go,

Alumni brat Sunday Winthrop and new student Fred Bushmill's pranks lead to their uncovering a sinister blackmail ring -- one that will stop at nothing to incriminate one of their friends.

Break the Surface (Watching Alice #1)

Sixteen-year-old Tom Sinclair moves to New York City to escape a troubled past. Then he meets Alice Brown and falls deeply in love. Could his life be back on track at last? 

Then Alice disappears, and Tom fears his past may have something to do with it. His only clues: an e-mail from someone with the screen name WatchingAlice, and Alice's diary entries--which reveal that Alice had deeply hidden secrets of her own.


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