October 22, 2020

Mark C. Jackson

Mark C. Jackson

One night, when Mark was five years old, he watched his grandmother Fayette sit at the dinner table and fashion a poem, right out of thin air. Words strung together, written on a piece of paper, her hand hesitating, hovering over a phrase, erasing, writing unfamiliar words, to finally finish this thing called a poem. As she read aloud, it came alive. He had no idea how or why, but he marveled at the rhythm and rhyme, the structure of language, the beauty of the word. Then she said, “I’m sending this to the newspaper to be published.” A few weeks later, Mark’s mother unfolded the Daily Oklahoman and there, in the arts section, next to the crossword puzzle, was the weekly poem with the name Fayette Glass, his grandmother, written below. “Everyone can read it now,” his mother said.

Years later, on board a navy ship off the coast of Virginia, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, he wrote his first song called What the Hell am I Doin’ Here, an homage to the life of a sailor. It wasn’t a very good song, he thought, but it was his song he could sing and play on the guitar, to others, if they wanted to listen. And they did. So, he wrote more, and got better, and remembered his grandmother working all night to make her words perfect. And that’s what he did. His third song was A Tear for Joy, written for his first daughter, Denise Joy Jackson, born thousands of miles away in Oklahoma, whom he loved long before he held her. He wrote and wrote, standing watch over the ship; the middle of the night and dead in the water in the South China Sea, or passing the Azores on a cold, spring day, the ocean glass as the doldrums set in.

True West Senior Editor Stuart Rosebrook, Literary Publicist Krista Soukup and Author Mark C. Jackson

He filled a hundred green pocketbooks of his writing, his songs. (Those books are now in boxes in his garage) He sailed around the world, until finally, he came ashore in San Diego. He always wanted to live in California, the land of dreams and sunshine. Met a girl, settled down, had two more kids, wrote songs for them. Sang Julia’s Waltz to his wife Judy at their wedding. Wrote Angels in the Sky for his son Josh one night after a walk in the park. He wrote My Little Sweetie Pie for his daughter Sarah and sang it to her at her high school graduation. He put a band together and for years performed around town, his own music. Mark was successful. Somehow, he balanced a day job, music, and family; recorded records, worked with the best music makers in Southern California. He sang his songs to thousands of folks and they were happy. He was happy, kind of.

One evening, out of the blue, he took a class. Flash fiction it was called. “Well, what is flash fiction?” he asked. Very short stories he was told. So, he wrote. His first stories were not that good. Then he remembered a dream he had, years before. He was a scout, on the prairie, getting settlers to safety. A woman was killed. He wrote The Hanging. He found Zebadiah Creed. The teacher and class were astounded by the story. So, Mark thought, “I’ll write some more.” And he did. He kept on writing. He met Chet Cunningham, a real author. Chet liked Mark’s work and invited him to join his writers’ group, the oldest in San Diego. The members encouraged Mark to write a book, for they knew he was a true writer before he could utter the words, “Yes, I am a writer . . .”

Today, Mark is an award-winning author, his first book An Eye for an Eye was published worldwide in 2017 at the ripe, old age of 59. He is a standing member of the Western Writers of America, the most prestigious association of writers promoting and writing Western Literature. The second book of his series The Tales of Zebadiah Creed, entitled The Great Texas Dance is due out in April 2020 from Five Star Publishing and has garnered endorsements from the most acclaimed Western writers in the nation. He is currently writing Book Three, Blue Rivers of Heaven.

Mark writes these books with his mother, Judith Ann Jackson, who, he claims “Knows Zeb better than me.”

And . . . Fayette is there, watching over his shoulder, whispering in his ear, smiling.

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