Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Case of the New Criminal Mind by Stephen Mack Jones

Welcome to our newest Mind! On behalf of all nine Minds, we're extending a virtual group hug of welcome to Stephen, who joins us today, and will be with us moving forward. Today's post is a chance for all our followers to get to know a bit about Stephen...over to you, and WELCOME! 

The AUGUST SNOW series 

“I got me a cousin down ‘nere in Monroe County, Arkansas, look just like you,” the handsome elderly Black man said, cataracts forming in his eyes as we spoke. “Tyrese Jesper. Folk calls him ‘Tweety’. Y’all ever know’d each other? His momma? Miss Etti? ‘Cause y’all could be twins, swear to my Lord Jesus.”

“No, sir. I’m afraid I—”

“Look just like Tweety! Got him a little bit of a belly, too!”

“I, uh—”

For the record, my name is Stephen Jones. Stephen Mack Jones (a wonderful middle-name bestowed upon me after my maternal Grandfather McCullough, affectionately nicknamed “Mack”.) And it’s quite possible, vaguely conceivable, maybe kind of likely I look like a family member, neighbor, old classmate, co-worker, ex-boyfriend or very distant ethically-challenged, twice removed cousin. This has been the summation of my looks and, curiously enough, my voice and what I am told is a distinctive baritone laugh, since I was a long-ago teenager. White folk, Black folk, doesn’t matter. This includes a young Middle Eastern man shopping for a sweater at Macy’s who, after staring at me for an uncomfortably long time, approached me and, his eyes watering, told me I looked exactly like his recently deceased father.

“Was he a good man?” I asked.

Very good. Very good,” the young man said. “The best.”

I shook his hand and said, “Well, here’s to a very good man. I’m honored to look like him.”

On catalytic-converter-ceramics business in Shanghai, China, my older brother once elicited stares, discreetly pointed fingers and snickers by the locals. Come to find out, through the translation of his Chinese counterpart, the locals thought when my brother smiled, he looked like the Buddha.

But that’s another story altogether.

Not unlike the other fine folk who contribute to Criminal Minds, I’m a writer. A novelist, which is a word I’m still getting used to when the question of my profession occasionally comes up. Then again, I was in advertising/marketing communications for over thirty-years and “novelist” doesn’t carry anywhere near the ungodly stench of my former professional. So, I think I’m getting used to being referred to as a “novelist.” My books thus far are August Snow, Lives Laid Away and Dead of Winter all published by the brilliant folks at Soho Press. A crime-thriller series based around the character of former-Marine and ex-Detroit cop August Snow who just happens to live in one of my favorite areas of Detroit: Mexicantown. It’s been suggested that I write an “August Snow Cookbook” since, between the bloody gunfights, twists and turns, and inferred sex, my hero loves to cook. Mostly Mexican food along with some Southern African-American dishes, both honoring the Mexican culture of his late mother and the African-American culture of his late father. It might be a while before I get to a cookbook. I’m having too much fun with the bloody gunfights and inferred sex.

I like writing.

It allows me control over a world that is otherwise manically out of control.

It allows me the luxury of bringing order to an otherwise disordered, unpredictable life.

And it allows me to say the word “fuck” multiple times and have that word considered “literary expression.”

I live in Michigan. The Mitten State. Bitter cold in the winter. Suffocatingly hot and humid in the summer. Unbelievably beautiful in the fall. (Contrary to popular belief, there is no spring in Michigan.) Michigan is a state of contradictions: Wealthy beyond belief and tragically third-world poor. Educationally advanced and pathetically stupid. A state of rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth right-wing white superiority armed militias and a state where races, ethnicities and nationalities join hands and sing that old Gullah favorite “Kumbaya” between sips of organic lemon grass smoothies and CBD oil massages. It’s a state where the natural world grows wild and howls beneath the moonlight and cities slowly growing or quickly die.

Legendary crime writer Elmore Leonard lived and wrote here.

So did the brilliant Jim Harrison.

And the Great crime-and-cowboy writer Loren D. Estleman.

Thriller master Steve Hamilton is a Michiganian (Michigander?) as is Suspense Queen Karen Dionne.

And multi-award-winning undertaker, novelist and poet Thomas Lynch lives here when he’s not at the family cottage in Count Cork, Ireland. (Point of clarification: Mr. Lynch has won multiple awards for his literature, not his mortuary business, though I’m sure he does a fine job at . . . you know . . . that.)

I have a family that I love immensely and who also takes pleasure in annoying the hell out of me.

In the coming months, I will join my Criminal Minds compadres in answering questions concerning the art, science and voodoo of writing which we hope will provide you--the novice or professional--with knowledge, encouragement, clarity and pathways to making your writing life better. I will also enjoy learning from my compadres. And you.

Frankly, I don’t know that much.

But I’m willing to share.

(By the way: According to a recent DNA test, I am 63% African-Predominately Nigerian, and 28% Northern European being a direct descendant of the House of Bourbon’s King Louis XVI. And I am more Asian-Pacific Islander than Indigenous American. Which is probably why I look like a family member, neighbor, old classmate, co-worker, ex-boyfriend or very distant ethically-challenged, twice removed cousin. The remains of my DNA lineage are, as my wife long suspected, Neanderthal.)


Follow Steve on Twitter @verigatenun991, on Facebook or stephenmackjones.com


James W. Ziskin said...

Welcome to our jolly band, Stephen! We’re thrilled to have you as one of us. Great post. And, yes, I thought you looked familiar…


Josh Stallings said...

Welcome, that was great introduction. Not surprised, but I will argue that you know much. I'm a fan of your novels, and look forward to seeing behind the curtain to how do what you do.


Judy said...

Stephen, hi! I met you in The Back Room and now have read (and loved) all three August Snow books, as has my husband. I'm happy to see you here and look forward to figuring out our family connection;-)

Steve said...

Thank you, James!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well said, Stephen. Welcome aboard.

Steve said...

Thanks, Josh! Absolutely loved TRICKY!

Steve said...

Thank you, Judy! Good luck figuring out our family connections. I can't figure them out at all.

Steve said...

Thank you, Dietrich! Good to be here!

Catriona McPherson said...

Welcome aboard, Steve! I just laughed out loud at your post (it was the "literary expression" bit). And now I want to share my SoHo Press story. It's about Rudi (Rudy?) at Bloody Scotland. We were on the procession from the castle and there was a bagpipe band leading the way. After twenty minutes, they started on "Mhairi's Wedding" and some of the Scots broke out dancing. I said, "Ohhh, I love this one." And Rudi/y said - absolutely genuine - "Wait, what? You mean they're playing actual different TUNES?"

Cathy Ace said...

Welcome, Steve! Very much looking forward to getting to know you through these blogs :-)

Susan C Shea said...

Welcome, Steve! What a great introduction. This is going to be fun.

Terry said...

Steve, welcome to the "Minds."

You don't look like anyone in my family, but the language is the eerily similar. Central Texas. As in "I moan.." as in "I'm going to."

Brenda Chapman said...

Hi Steve and welcome. I grew up around the lake from Michigan and love your depiction of the weather. It'll be some fun getting to know you better :-)