CHADRON – Assistant Professor of English Markus Jones read several excerpts from his short stories and novel during the final Graves Lecture of the fall semester Nov. 27 in the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center.
“The Gulf Stream,” paints a portrait of a young child being mistreated by his father on a sandy beach. “Creature of the Dark,” nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize, creates a glimpse into a Christian service juxtaposed with a shooting at a mosque in the same community. “Thirst,” from the novel “Postworld,” is about refugees in a truck clambering over bodies for a taste of rain. In “Phone Call,” from “Church Bells in the Night,” Darla calls her lover, Max, to tell him she has finally killed her abusive husband, Sammy.
During the lecture, Jones compared two different approaches to writing: plotting versus “pantsing” or flying by the seat of one’s pants. Jones said he prefers the second method.
“I go where the story takes me and then I reverse engineer it and design the plot,” he said.
Jones said even though it is common writing advice to show, rather than tell, it is still an important concept for writers to remember.
“Don’t analyze or interpret. Tap into your subconscious and embrace it,” Jones said.
On Dec. 1, Jones received a 2019 Pushcart small press nomination for “Old Man Gloom.” Other awards include two 2018 American Fiction Awards for his novel "How the Butcher Bird Finds Her Voice,” which was nominated in the Literary category and a winner in the Multicultural category. Also, “Cindy Jack and the Town Drunks,” was a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tillie Olsen Short Story Award.
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