COVEY AND JAYJAY GET EDUCATED
By Shelton L. Williams
Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 209 pages
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Amateur detectives, Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls, are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor.
Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college’s new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action?
The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father’s death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey’s return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.
Author Shelton Williams is interviewed by a former student
Recently I was in Sherman, Texas, home of Austin College, where I taught for 38 years. A former student, Marc Parrish, interviewed me at an artsy place called Ideation Station, owned by another former student, Ruth Williamson. The audience, homecoming celebrants everyone, hardly knew me beyond my academic writings or my two memoirs that are really non-fiction novels. Marc is a writer himself (his first book is coming out in 2020 or 2021), so his questions helped the audience understand my new fiction and perhaps prompted me to explore my own writing journey. Here’s an edited version of Marc’s questions:
Marc: How does your 30 years of non-fiction writing affect your detective stories that are wholly fictional?
Shelly: In a sense I had to get over the one to write the other. Writing books about nuclear politics, war and peace, and foreign policy was part of my career, and I studied at Johns Hopkins where serious writing is for serious people. I learned to do that, and I am proud of it, but very few people other than policy wonks read that stuff. I tried the same style initially in writing about the death of my cousin in Washed in the Blood. A friendly publisher saved the project by saying, “You know, this is partly your story as well. You can use the word ‘I’ in telling it.” That liberated me to find my true voice. I went back to my roots in Odessa to research and write about Betty, my murdered cousin. Eventually that town, the people I knew, and the politics of a changing America allowed me to use my new style to tell stories.
Marc: Your characters seem like real people, and I often feel like I know a person or recognize a place. For example, in Covey and JayJay Get Educated, Baker College is clearly Austin College and many of the faculty and staff are familiar.
Shelly: The look of Austin College informs the narrative, but so do other small liberal arts colleges I have visited in Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Many readers should feel at home even if they have never been to Sherman, Texas. The characters, especially the ones you like, from the students to the staff to the faculty, are inspired by Austin College folks, but their actions are wholly fictional, and they are in fact composite fictional characters. The bad guys have nothing to do with Austin College; the story arc is mine alone. The idea of murders on campus comes from the British TV series Morse or Endeavour based on the books by Colin Dexter.
Marc: Well, one thing we all did know about you back in the day was that you are a movie guy. You see more movies than anyone I know, and you review them on Facebook. Didn’t you write a couple of screenplays?
Shelly: I did, and they were not good enough. I wrote Washed in the Blood as a vehicle for a movie because Betty wanted to act. She died at 17, so it never happened. I wanted it for her. There is a TV docudrama called Bye, Bye Betty based on her story. I hope that soon there will also be a movie. I have been told many times that the Covey Jencks books would be a great mini-series. I have learned not to expect anything at all from my books. Writing them should be enough. JayJay, I mean actually my wife, Janell, on whose personality JayJay is based, says, “Be in the moment. Your story-telling will be better if you do so, and if anyone wants to do anything else with your books, that will be their moment and you can help, if asked.”
Marc: What is the greatest compliment you have received from your writing?
Shelly: Not long ago, my fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Clara, asked me, “Pops, I just wrote a story. Will you read it?”
Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
FOUR WINNERS!GRAND PRIZE: signed copy of each of the author’s books
SECOND PRIZE: signed copy of both Covey Jencks and Covey and JayJay Get Educated
THIRD PRIZE: Audio book of Covey and JayJay Get Educated
FOURTH PRIZE: Kindle version of Covey and JayJay Get Educated
DECEMBER 10-20, 2019
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Great interview! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂