Interview with John Isaac Jones

John Isaac Jones A Sagebrush Soul: A Biographical Novel of Mark Twain

John Isaac Jones

author of "A Sagebrush Soul: A Biographical Novel of Mark Twain"
Michael Carter

Michael Carter


John Isaac Jones, author of "A Sagebrush Soul: A Biographical Novel of Mark Twain"

John Isaac Jones's Website

JOHN ISAAC JONES, is a retired journalist currently living and writing at Merritt Island, Florida. For more than thirty years, John I., as he prefers to be called, was a reporter for media outlets throughout the world. These included local newspapers in his native Alabama, The National Enquirer, News of the World in London, the Sydney Morning Herald, and NBC television.  

This is the second volume in his Great American Authors Series. The first was A Quiet Madness, a biographical novel of Edgar Allan Poe, which was published in August of 2020.

The Book: "A Sagebrush Soul: A Biographical Novel of Mark Twain"


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The Twain book, which has been in the works for over two years, is a dramatic recreation of the life and legend of America’s most famous humorist. His hardscrabble childhood; the influence of his older brother Orion; his teenager romance with Laura Hawkins; his wild and wooly days out West including his passionate fling with poet Ina Coolbrith; how he wooed and won his beloved Olivia and how, after rearing three children, neither would survive the death of their oldest daughter.

In a letter to his wife, Olivia, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) conveyed his grief over the recent death of his twenty-three-year-old daughter, Susy. Susy had suffered from mental instability, seemingly triggered by intense homesickness while she was a freshman at Bryn Mawr and had been receiving treatment at the Clemens’ home in Hartford.

Twain was traveling on a lecture tour that he deemed necessary to repair his precarious financial situation. Olivia was still at sea with the Clemens’ other two daughters, Clara and Jean, at the time of Susy’s death, and Twain writes to her before she has received the news.

On August 20, 1896, Clemens wrote, “The greatest blow I ever suffered on this earth was the moment I fully understood that I had lost my Susy. I did not comprehend that she was such a large part of our life. I did not know that she could go away and take our lives with her, leaving our dull bodies behind.”

In a letter to his wife, he wrote, “Hour by hour my sense of the calamity that has over-taken us closes down heavier & heavier upon me; & now for 48 hours there is a form of words that runs in my head with careless iteration — without stop or pause — I shall never see her again, I shall never see her again. You will see the sacred face once more — I am so thankful for that. I love you with all my whole heart.”

There is no greater sorrow for any parent, than the loss of their own child. It is sheer devastation, and yes, it sometimes seems that the world cannot go on…. But somehow it does… Because it must.

Samuel Clemens holds a special place in my heart and mind, not just as a literary giant, but also as a loving father who lost his daughter too.

Jones, adeptly captures the heart, soul, and spirit of Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain, as one of America’s most famous writers, story tellers, and showman in the 19th century. He is referred to as the father of American Literature. In fact, he was the first national and international celebrity. The most well-known man on earth. He was able to capture the spirit of youthful optimism of small-town America; and the freedom and excitement of the Western Frontier. His writing was unique in that he used the simple, plain meaning language of the average American.

Michael Carter, Co-Host

Michael Carter's Website