I am very pleased to welcome Mark Edward Jones….who happens to be one of my authors at The Wild Rose Press. And, it so happens, we discovered that his wife and I graduated together…Moore High School, Class of ’80. Crazy coincidence, right? Mark is a talented author and a great guy and I am thrilled to be his editor. And the best thing of all, he’s an Elvis fan! 🙂 Take it away, Mark…
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, and I’ve lived in Edmond, Oklahoma, since 1999. I’m married and have three grown children but no grandchildren. Cooper and Jasper are Yorkies or Yorkie mixes, and they keep me more than busy.
I read and wrote a lot in junior high and high school. The dedication page in Peculiar Activities includes a note about a high school English teacher. Once in college, I read textbooks and wrote term papers, then, after marrying and children, life went faster. I retired in 2017 from the financial area of the University of Oklahoma and thought I would try writing again. Luck seems to have followed me (so far) as I found writing classes with very helpful instructors and classmates, harsh but friendly beta readers, and great editors.
Where did you get the idea for Peculiar Activities? Why did you choose this genre?
I wanted to focus on writing a mystery novel because the genre is what I like to read and watch on television. Since there are literally hundreds of thousands of mysteries on Amazon and other platforms, I wanted to expand the story a bit beyond a generic police procedural. I included an international intrigue subplot, specifically the main protagonist getting involved with cold-case murders leading him to Vienna and Prague. This led to the book’s title, Peculiar Activities, a derivative of an actual police unit in Prague called the Unit for Special Operations.
Do you collect anything?
I still have a rock collection from my grade school years. After my mom passed away, I inherited over six hundred albums and records, and I’ve kept my eyes open in old records shops for others I may want to purchase.
What was your first job?
In high school, hauling those big console TVs back and forth to a friend’s dad’s repair shop.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
Bad one. At least people supposedly have purchased and read the book.
What is your favorite quote?
“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” Steven Wright
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have self-published a historical fiction book in 2017 called New Beginnings, later renamed Servants, Slaves, and Sinners. I’ve pulled it from Amazon, and I’m thinking of rewriting it as a historical mystery.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Robert Lamm of Chicago, and I was totally tongue-tied.
How did you come up with the title?
The book title is the name of a Czech police unit and is based on an actual division called the Unit for Special Operations.
Movie North by Northwest
Music Elvis, the 70s, and Smooth Jazz
Place you’ve visited Maui
Place you’d like to visit Great Britain
TV show from childhood Lost in Space
TV show from adulthood Seinfeld
Sports team Sooners and Dallas Cowboys (not easy)
Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? Television
Thanks so much, Mark. It was great getting to know you better. I’m also a huge Seinfeld fan. And I love Steven Wright. Love the quote! 🙂
A murder in a park, and a new detective finds an old conspiracy.
Junior Detective Henry Ike Pierce is hired to reassess cold-case killings. On the third day of his new job, a dismembered body appears in a local park. The corpse’s desecration is like slayings from over two decades ago, and his boss assigns Henry to his first investigation. He must uncover the present-day killer while his boss pushes him to resolve crimes from the past.
Henry seeks a killer within a community of rival ethnic groups, refugees from the 1990s Balkan wars. Rumors point to a killer called ‘the hooded one.’
As his investigation unfolds, the young man from western Virginia’s coal country discovers that ‘trust’ has a flexible definition.
Eddie Stone pointed to our left. “There. This whole section.” He kicked away the dead foliage, and a flat headstone surfaced with the name of UNKNOWN and the death date of JULY 1987. “This used to be where we buried unclaimed bodies after two weeks. These days it doesn’t happen much with all the DNA crap.”
He stepped toward the fence, then cleared off another area. Five gray markers appeared, all said UNKNOWN and JANUARY 1995. “These are the five homicide victims Director Marconi told you about.”
Those deaths came into focus like a cold slap. “Why couldn’t you identify them?” I asked.
“No heads, hands, or feet.”
“Whoever did this kept the skulls, hands, and feet.
With no teeth and no fingerprints, we had nothing else sophisticated enough to help us.”
“No guesses even? A missing person reports?”
“Nope. We found a connection, though.”
“To each other, it seemed. The victims were male,
all wore brown leather jackets, and the damnedest thing—a piece of Orehnjaca was stuck in the breast pocket of each victim.”
“Oren Jaka? I’ve never heard that word.”
He grinned. “I hadn’t either. It’s a Serbian bread dessert. A nut roll or something.”
“These murders sound more like mob hits.”
“Bingo. We’ve thought similarly over the years but couldn’t connect it to local gangs.” A blast of north wind shuffled the leaves, covering the headstones again. “I don’t think it’s only a local issue, and neither does the director.”
Mark Edward Jones retired in 2017 after thirty-three years working in higher education finance and wanted to start writing again. In February 2021, he signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for a novel called Peculiar Activities. The book’s release date was October 6, 2021. This manuscript won first place in the mystery category of the 2019 Oklahoma Writers Federation annual contest and was a finalist in the 2020 Page Turner Awards contest.
Mark signed a contract in November 2021 for the second book in the Henry Ike Pierce series, Shadowed Souls.
He is a part of a group of thirteen authors bringing together thirteen stories for a Friday the 13th anthology to be released on May 13, 2022. Mark’s short story is A Gentleman from the Darkness.
His flash fiction piece called Alone in Warsaw was published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the U.K. Publication, Painted Words.
Mark grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, then attended the University of Oklahoma, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration.
He and his wife celebrated their fortieth anniversary in November 2021.
Mystery/suspense/international intrigue novels are his favorite reads, and he’s found an odd niche with medieval murder mysteries, noting it’s interesting to see the lifestyles from other eras and how crimes were solved.
His favorite music includes Elvis, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Boz Scaggs (among many others).