Stephen Mack Jones writes award-winning poetry and plays, and he’s won a Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellowship. But one day, inspiration seemed to fall right out of thin air and he soon found himself writing his first novel, August Snow (SoHo Press, 2017), a hard-boiled detective story.
Jones says the book's origins were a bit unusual. The title came to him before the book, and it popped into his mind as he was mowing the lawn.
“For me, mowing the lawn is kind of a Zen activity,” Jones says. “Check your brain at the door and go back and forth, mowing the lawn. Those two words — August Snow — settled on my mind, and I had a brief laugh about that. It doesn’t snow in August, ha ha. Then over a course of a couple weeks, those words settled like a thistle on my brain. I realized I’m either going to have to do something with this, or seek therapy.”
Jones bypassed therapy and sat down to write a novel instead. Jones says writing requires a bit of madness, and a lot of discipline and persistence.
“Writing is also cheaper than therapy,” Jones says, laughing. He describes the main character he developed as, "...a man shaped by his parents. I think overall, in some odd way, the book is a tribute to my mother and father. August’s father demanded a sense of honor and integrity from his son. His mother taught him how to emotionally see people. He’s also shaped by the Marines and the City of Detroit.”
Born in Lansing, but now a resident of the greater Detroit area, Jones includes gritty and accurate details of Detroit as an integral part of the novel. The book opens as Snow, a police detective, has recently won a lawsuit against corrupt officials in the department. He wins millions of dollars in a settlement and uses much of it to rebuild his Detroit neighborhood. But he's drawn into an investigation of a Detroit bank owner's murder.
Jones will speak, sign books, and answer questions at the kickoff event for a new Michigan mystery book club on Monday, September 18, at 6:30 p.m. at Parchment Community Library. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (269) 343-7747.
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