Interview with author Gary F Jones

Author Gary F Jones is entertaining me today by
talking about his humorous mystery with touches of family and Christmas, Doc’s Codicil.
During his
virtual book tour, Gary will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble
(winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for
a chance to win, use the form below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
his other tour stops
and enter there, too.

According to Gary Jones, his life has been a testament to questionable
decisions and wishful thinking. His wife of forty years, however, says she
knows of nothing in the record to justify such unfettered optimism. Jones says
the book is a work of fiction; that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

He’s part of
the last generation of rural veterinarians who worked with cows that had names
and personalities, and with dairymen who worked in the barn with their
families. He’s also one of those baby boomers, crusty codgers who are writing
their wills and grousing about kids who can be damned condescending at times.

practiced bovine medicine in rural Wisconsin for nineteen years. He then
returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, earned a PhD in
microbiology, and spent the next nineteen years working on the development of
bovine and swine vaccines.

Doc’s Codicil is the bronze medal winner of Foreward’s
INDIEFAB Book of the Year awards, humor category.

Welcome, Gary. Please share a little
bit about your current release.

Doc’s Codicil,
a mystery told with gentle humor in a style reminiscent of Clyde Edgerton with
touches of Garrison Keillor, tells the story of a veterinarian who teaches his
heirs a lesson from the grave.
When Wisconsin
veterinarian Doc dies, his family learns that to inherit his fortune, they must
decipher the cryptic codicil he added to his will–“Take Doofus
squirrel-fishing”–and they can only do that by talking to Doc’s friends,
reading the memoir Doc wrote of a Christmas season decades earlier, searching
through Doc’s correspondence, and discovering the clues around them.
Doc’s Codicil is a story within
a story. As the heirs read Doc’s book, they learn of a Christmas season, 27
years ago, in which Doofus goaded Doc into action on his dreams and bragged
about his own project, a Christmas nativity pageant in New Orleans that,
unbeknownst to Doc and Doofus, Doc’s sister and brother in law were also
working on. In writing his memoir, Doc realized he’d missed important lessons
about life, lessons he wanted to impart to his adult children. He knew they
wouldn’t listen to him, so he invented the riddle of Doofus and squirrel
fishing to teach them what he had missed.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was nearing retirement and looking for something new. I had worked as a
large animal veterinarian in north-central Wisconsin for 19 years, and my wife
and I had four active children. I’d probably forgotten most of the stupid
things I, my kids, and my clients did, but I remembered enough to make
interesting reading, and I’d heard rumors of ill-advised endeavors others got
themselves into, including one about a nativity pageant that included live
camels. I was sure I could mold these anecdotes into a single story, and as the
writing progressed, even the camels developed personalities.
As I wrote and thought about what I’d done and seen, I
realized that there were a number of lessons that I should have learned but
didn’t. The question then became, how do I teach my children, or how does any
parent teach their adult children new lessons. Children, from the age of
seventeen on, aren’t famous for listening to parents. I can’t remember where I
got the idea of a deceased veterinarian attaching a codicil to his will to
force his children to learn what he had not, but the idea appealed to me.

Excerpt from
Doc’s Codicil:
Gladys the
camel meets Doc’s widowed mother.
Elspeth’s voice was warm, almost coquettish; it
surprised even her. “I’ve wanted to meet Gladys. I saw her at the amphitheater
a few nights ago. Could I give her a slice of apple or a carrot?”
“Sorry, ma’am. If I let you, every kid in line
will want to do it, and feeding animals is against the rules,” Pete said. He
dragged out a line he hadn’t used in twenty years. “I think I could let you
give her a little treat if you can wait until the rides are over and she’s back
in the barn.”
Gladys didn’t understand a word of this. She
understood her nose. Humans fill volumes with poetry about beauty and love and
then use corny lines that would embarrass a love-sick horse. Camels sniff.
A mental picture of Pete and the lady in an
amorous clinch disturbed Gladys. She snorted, blowing gobs of camel mucus over
Pete’s shoulder. She remembered younger wranglers she’d seen in this condition.
One was besotted for weeks.
Distracted wranglers lost all track of
priorities, at least those important to Gladys, chief amongst which was her
feeding schedule. A few had completely forgotten to dole out her
molasses-drenched vitamin and mineral supplement. And if Gladys felt anything
similar to the love and awe humans reserve for religion, it was her passion for
Gladys listened to Pete’s soft tones and started
to do a slow burn. She put up with crap from kids and adults—even pretended to
like a few, once in a while, if the weather was nice. If she could make a
sacrifice like that, was it too much to ask that she be fed on time and get a
full ration? Gladys vented her frustration with a rumbling, “Eeeungh.”
She looked at Pete again and wondered why Jerry
kept a scarecrow-skinny guy with creaky knees around. He could be a health
risk, what with the big bald spot he hid under his hat. Could be mange. She
looked Pete over closely and decided Jerry should have him put down and sold
for dog food.
Old Pete reminded her of old bull camels she’d
known. She remembered an all-day tryst she had with an old bull. The old fool
kept forgetting what they were up to and wandering off for a drink or something
to eat. Their assignation was twenty-three hours and thirty minutes longer than
her affairs with younger camels. It wasn’t something she cared to remember. And
if old men were like old camels, she might starve to death before Pete got over
this infatuation.
Gladys turned her head and looked at Elspeth and
saw that she was even older than Pete. Gladys couldn’t imagine what they saw in
each other. Their stupid-looking feet were narrow and would sink in sand,
neither of them could chew their cud, they both look starved, and there wasn’t
a decent hump between the two of them. She shook her head in disgust, sending
camel slobber in all directions. This union was a mistake of nature.
Gladys was not a romantic.

What exciting story are you working on

A Jerk, a Jihad, and a Virus is
available now. It’s the story of Jason, a veterinary virologist. Jason can’t
keep his mouth shut, can’t lie convincingly, and can’t follow orders. He’s an
unlikely candidate to help the CIA locate and destroy a deadly hybrid virus
stolen from Jason’s lab at the University of Minnesota. From Washington to
Djibouti, From Minneapolis to Yemen, Marines cringe, Senators turn livid, and
CIA agents shudder as Jason struggles to prevent the virus from becoming a
biological weapon in the hands of jihadists.
The book
I’m working on now, tentatively titled, “Stalking Throckmorten,” is about a
treasure buried deep in a tunnel under an old brewery in 1935. Otto, the dying
man who buries the treasure, leaves a letter to be given to the first of his
descendants to return to the village. Throckmorton, Otto’s descendant, is given
the letter and begins the search, unaware that he’s being stalked by a divorcee
with romance on her mind, a con man who’d like a share of the treasure, and a
corrupt mayor who wants a cut.

When did you first consider yourself a
I used to write letters at Christmas describing to relatives
the stupid things I and our kids had managed to do during the year, including
the year I got the butter stuck in the vacuum cleaner. It was a natural
Those letters taught me to be concise. I’d been writing the
letters for 20 years when several people told me that those silly letters had
become the high point of their Christmas. By that time I was a scientist with
19 research reports published in major journals of veterinary medicine and
biology. If I could write humorous short stories and serious reports, I figured
I was a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

“Full-time,” is an ambiguous term when discussing someone who’s retired. Naps
become important. I may write between 2 to 10 hours a day, depending on where I
am in a book, how much time I’m spending on marketing, and whether I’m in one
of my periods of writer’s block.

I read as much as I can. I’m also a volunteer and a docent
at a major zoo and a gardener of sorts. I enjoy working with wood—I built the
vanity in our bathroom and a dining room table for our daughter—but I haven’t
had much time for that recently.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
Even why I
tried to write a pandemic thriller, it came out as a comic thriller.
I seem
unable to write fiction that isn’t humorous.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Growing up on a dairy farm, I exhibited Holstein dairy cows and Clydesdale
horses at local and state fairs. Since I was also interested in science, I
wanted to be a veterinarian and a scientist, and I managed to be both.

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

Don’t fear failure. It happens. Keep an eye on the horizon, dare to dream, and
set goals for yourself. We all have choices. We can look for reasons we won’t
be able to achieve our goals or we can look for ways to overcome the
roadblocks. You can look for excuses or you can find ways to accomplish things.
It’s up to you.


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10 thoughts on “Interview with author Gary F Jones

  1. Unknown says:

    Many thanks for hosting my book on its virtual book tour. I'll check periodically through the day for comments.
    Thanks again,

  2. Unknown says:

    I had a lot of fun thinking it up and imagining how Doofus would speak and act. With a lot of exaggeration, I used an uncle of mine as a model for him.

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