Welcome to the official
web site of mystery author Stan
for the bio of my new co-writer, Patricia Watts)
I was born in Anchorage, Alaska. But my parents were from Tennessee and moved back there when I was about two.
So I spent my boyhood through age twelve on a farm near the Tennessee-Mississippi border. I actually shot squirrels with a .22 rifle, picked cotton, rode bareback on a giant plowhorse named Bob, and raised a heifer that I entered in the county fair! The county in question, by the way, was McNairy County, notable chiefly for moonshiners and a sheriff named Buford Pusser, who busted the moonshiners and became famous in a corny movie called “Walking Tall.”
My parents, it turned out, had caught the Alaska bug, so we moved back to Anchorage when I was twelve and I’ve lived in Alaska ever since, except for a couple of relatively brief college-related absences spent “Outside,” as Alaskans call the rest of the United States.
I spent a pleasant but basically aimless life until I moved to the Inupiat Eskimo village of Kotzebue in my late twenties. I found the lovely, barren Arctic landscape absolutely mesmerizing, the extreme climate a joy, and the Native culture fascinating. I landed Bush planes on the sea ice, drove snowmachines--or 'snowgos," as they're called in Kotzebue--over the tundra, hunted moose and caribou, and once helped paddle a sealskin umiaq in pursuit of a bowhead whale on the Chukchi Sea off Point Hope.
After Kotzebue, I lived in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and then Anchorage again, working as a newspaper journalist. I won several major national awards for investigative stories that led to impeachment proceedings against one of Alaska’s governors, and for coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
After I left Kotzebue, I found the country, weather and people of Northwest Alaska more interesting than ever, so I started the Nathan Active series. The fictional village of Chukchi is modeled on Kotzebue in many respects, and some of the characters in the series are loosely crafted around real people I knew.
I live in Anchorage. I’m married to Susan Jones, an epidemiologist and karate master. We have two children, both adults.
I'm a wildly eclectic reader, but of course I have a special interest in the literature of the north. Some of my favorite authors in that genre are Charlie Brower, Hudson Stuck, Edgar Keithahn, Paul Green, Chester Seveck, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Edwin Hall, Ernest Burch, and Claire Fejes (who was also a wonderful painter of Eskimo life in Northwest Alaska).
Patricia is my co-writer on The Big Empty and on the next Nathan Active mystery, tentatively titled To The Marrow.
I was a “military
brat” born at Ladd Field (now
later, I returned to
In between, my life
took me around the world: military housing in
Writing was always something that belonged to me when other parts of my life were lost or broken. My first “book” was hand-written on notebook paper when I was thirteen. I kept it stashed in the back of my bedroom closet. It was about a girl who meets and marries and lives happily ever after with her favorite Beatle—Paul, of course. My favorite author at the time was Thomas Hardy.
Looking back, I feel privileged to have been a teen-ager during the ‘60s, the era with the most important causes and the best music. I still would rather listen to Marvin Gaye than Kendrick Lamar.
After raising two
children, becoming a grandma, and finding my
inner redhead, I published my first novel, Watchdogs
(SheWrites Press, 2013), a steamy noir
mystery set in
Stan Jones on the Nathan Active Alaska crime
series was a risky choice for me as a writer
and personally. Thankfully, we produced a
Big Empty, and nurtured a friendship
instead of both things falling apart. I’m
now working from afar (
Another solo novel, Black and White, is in the works. This is a story of a quest to find a lost child, of middle-age romance, of lifelong friendship, and a journey through the drama and pain of the contemporary political and social justice landscape.
I create imperfect characters and plots with jagged edges that don’t all smooth out in the end. I read Walter Mosley, Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn, Christopher Bohjalian, Shakespeare, and Tana French.
I believe reading, like writing, should be agitating and satisfying, not necessarily in that order.