As a children’s author and illustrator, collage artist, and jewelry maker, Laurie Parker has artistic talents that make her work in demand across Mississippi. Parker was born in Bruce on 24 July 1963, though her family—parents, Sam and Ruth Parker; brother, Tommy; older sister, Lynn; and fraternal twin, Nancy—moved to Starkville when she was a baby. After graduating as valedictorian from Starkville High School in 1981, Parker earned an education degree from Mississippi State University in 1985, worked as a schoolteacher, and returned to Mississippi State to study engineering before turning to full-time jewelry making.
After several years of selling collages and jewelry at solo shows and at crafts markets, Parker thought books would be another way to put her collage talents to work. In 1997 Quail Ridge Press published Parker’s first book for children, Everywhere in Mississippi, the story of Skippy the dog. Other books followed, including All over Alabama (1997), Mississippi Alphabet (1998), Texas Alphabet (2000), and Louisiana Alphabet (2001). The books featuring rhyming text, enjoyable illustrations, and lessons in geography within the verse.
In 2002 Parker took a new direction with The Turtle Saver, a longer story about a turtle lost on the Natchez Trace. The work marked a significant change for Parker, moving beyond her stock-in-trade geographical stories to a more lyrical theme with a moral—small kindnesses can reap great rewards.
In 2003 Parker left Quail Ridge and launched her first holiday offering, It Really Said Christmas, which she chose to self-publish “to make more money from my hard work.” She also found it “exciting to be able to create how I wanted to create.” The following year, she released Mad for Maroon, a story that grew out of her love for the Mississippi State University Bulldogs. Her subsequent children’s books have included Tales of the Good Life (2005), A for Angels (2007), The Sweet Dreams Book (2009), Garden Alphabet (2011), and Everywhere in Mississippi (2012).
Parker shifted gears again with The Matchstick Cross (2013), a novel for adults about a Mississippi woman living in New York who returns home after her mother’s death. Three more novels, Yonder Breaks the Morning (2014), and Hush, Swing, Hush (2015), and Trespassers Talking (2017), are set in Oxford, Meridian, and Natchez.
A resident of Starkville, Parker continues to write and to create pins and other decorative works, which she sells at art shows, festivals, and holiday markets.
- Yolanda Cruz, “Parker Pens First Novel,” Hattiesburg American (May 16, 2014)
- Lynne Willbanks Jeter, Mississippi Business Journal (2002)
- Laurie Parker, interview by Julie Whitehead (2003)
- Laurie Parker website, http://www2.netdoor.com/~lauriep/writer/about.html
- Quail Ridge Press website, www.quailridge.com