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Synopses & Endorsements

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The Prophet of Sorrow

Set against the political backdrop of the Moscow Show Trials and the exile of Leon Trotsky in Mexico, a Spanish agent of Joseph Stalin’s notorious secret spy ring, the GPU, is sent to assassinate Trotsky. After killing the exiled Bolshevik, Ramon Mercader has spent twenty years in a Mexican prison. The Prophet of Sorrow is a tale of suspense, courage, and love as recounted by the assassin. The main characters help to develop the plot throughout the story, with the inclusion of personal journal entries. The author instills geopolitical depth of the times and psychological gravity into their voices — not the least of which are — anger, fear, passion, envy, discontent, and sorrow.

The main characters are involved in the tumultuous civil war in Spain, recruited as Soviet spies, trained in Russia, and unleashed as part of Stalin’s private army of gangsters and murderers. Ramon Mercader and his mother are in a relationship rooted in a reign of terror led by the masterful old-time spy Leonid Eitingon. The famous artist David Alfaro Siqueiros masterminds an armed assault on the Trotsky compound in Mexico, but fails. It is up to Mercader to murder Trotsky through deceit and delivering the fatal blow with a mountain climbing axe, which was hidden under his coat.

Different characters that represent the middle of the twentieth century make cameo appearances in the novel. Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo give Trotsky a house to live in. David Alfaro Siqueiros comes into contact with Ernest Hemmingway and Jackson Pollack. Charles Laughton, Ira Gershwin, and Tyrone Power commission works from Siqueiros. It is through art that a potential for connection and intercourse is revealed at the very core of our awareness. And through the murderer, Mercader, the author reveals what keeps us from being ourselves: our own nature broadening outward and furnishing evidence of our true tastes and convictions.

In Historical Fiction

  • 2010 Book of the Year Award Finalist Foreword Magazine 

  • 2010 International Book Award Finalist 

  • National ‟Best Books 2010” Book Award Finalist

‟A page turner that makes you think, reminds us who these people really were, and gives them a voice to tell their side of a dark event in history. Definitely a must read for anyone who enjoys historical or spy thrillers.” J. W. Coffey, Lexington Literature Examiner


‟The research, perseverance, love, time, and artistic talent that the author invested in writing The Prophet of Sorrow result in a compelling story and a quest for the next intriguing book from Williams.” Joan E. Phelps, author, speechwriter

‟Mark’s strength is beautiful language wed to an understanding of very difficult concepts of being and perception.” Susan Balèe  

The Prophet of Sorrow and The Burlesque of Graceless Acting: These are incredible, thought-provoking pieces of literature.” Ann White, founder of The Creating Calm Broadcast Network

The Burlesque of Graceless Acting

The principal narrative of The Burlesque of Graceless Acting is the account of an anonymous poet’s relationship with his mind and his physical surroundings, in a complicated modern world. The first-person narrative is supplemented by conversations with a confidant, about whether the soul is an immaterial thing or just a brain. All the while, the narrator illuminates his conundrum with the wonder of our most elusive art (poetry), as well as pictures of various ‘surreal’ people, places, and objects. It is haunting in content and scope for a novella, exploring why our conscious states have their particular qualities, and suggests that they, in the end, are nothing more than brain processes.

‟A meal for the mind that is to be savored over and over. Line after line, page after page, are philosophical and psychological insights whose meaning must be contemplated as they appear, and then in the context of the work as a whole.” Edward Martin Baker, PhD, author of The Symphony of Profound Knowledge: W. Edwards Deming’S Score for Leading, Performing, and Living in Concert 

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Alive as the Grave

The poems in this volume contain a speculative philosophy based on ancestral slime, incremental change, evolutionism and revolution, tempo, continuity, corridors, and whirligigs; the veil of an indefinable wisdom, moving invisibly beyond the limen of nothingness, returning to the realm of imagination, where time no longer exists, and animation is derived from resonating, museful, substructural rhythms. 

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10 Illustrations

A Season of Industry

"From the frequent recourse to circus imagery in the writing of Mark Van Aken Williams and the brightness and colour of illustrations by his wife, Janice, we can enjoy their capture of surfaces, but their new book [A Season of Industry] persuades us too that there is always something far beyond initial impressions. For the Williams' family life is rather more than bread and circuses as they live each Season of Industry."

C.J. Heyworth, writer, poet


‟[The photos] really capture that strange mixture of starkness and weird beauty that is small-town southern Ohio.” Jeanette DeMain

color photographs

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Circus by Moonlight

Williams has been writing poetry and essays for many years and his work reflects a sensibility that extends beyond national borders and encompasses the dichotomy of poverty/wealth, striving/acceptance, ancient/modern, and the particular and universal. Circus by Moonlight contains 121 poems written between 1990 and 2007.

‟A perfect browse for poetry enthusiasts ... establishes Williams as an impressive talent and skilled wordsmith, deserving of as wide and appreciative an audience as possible.”The Midwest Book Review, Small Press Bookwatch

The Hillbilly Vampire Chronicles

Written under the pseudonym Tonto Fielding, this is the tale of Gideon Chickenstalker a 400-pound vampire from the hills of southern Ohio. He may be the most inept vampire in history. The Hillbilly Vampire Chronicles is filled with some of saddest people you will ever meet in fiction, yet their earnest attempts to navigate daily life teeter on the edge of bizarre hilarity. These forgotten populations of uneducated folk scull the parlous straits between comedy and calamity with only the devil to pay.

A Star Trek geek taken to having sex with cantaloupes, Gideon finds companionship with Esther Gradgrind, a meth-addicted ex-stripper, only to have his life forever altered when he is turned into a vampire. Being so out of shape, he finds himself unable to hunt down even one human. Along with her washed-up bodybuilder boyfriend, Amos Pecksniff, Esther helps Gideon with his ultimate goal of tasting real human blood, all the while ending up in a life of crime that would make Bonnie and Clyde deny their profession.

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