Local author releases book of short stories

A Jackson County author has released his fifth and latest book, “King of the Yellow Jackets and Other Stories.”

John Pesta is an award-winning author, and his new book is an anthology of short stories, of which many originally appeared in acclaimed literary magazines, including Sou’wester, Prairie Schooner and The Bridge.

A few make their debut in this book of tales that Pesta has collected during a lifetime of writing.

Pesta said the stories draw upon a life spent observing intriguing people, such as fiction inspired by his Italian-Hungarian upbringing in Pennsylvania and his years spent in academia as a professor of English literature.

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He also attributes his writing to decades devoted to editing The Brownstown Banner.

“I’ve always loved writing short stories,” Pesta said. “I can’t wait to see what readers think of this collection.”

On Pesta’s Facebook page, he posted he’s excited to offer signed copies of his new collection of short stories from his website, johnpesta.com.

He also thanks everyone who has already read the book and has said such nice things in emails and notes.

“It’s great to hear from friends and readers in these virus times,” he wrote.

Pesta’s writing has won numerous awards, including first place in the Best Books of Indiana competition sponsored by the Indiana State Library, a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the mystery category and an honorable mention at the London Book Festival.

He began his career as a professor of English but ultimately decided to make a major change by leaving academia and going into business for himself, purchasing The Brownstown Banner, where he was the editor and publisher for nearly two decades.

During his time as a newspaperman, he wrote and edited countless articles, obituaries and editorials, high school sports stories, Superfund investigative projects and reports of giant pumpkins and dead rattlesnakes.

Pesta received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia Graduate School. He spent a year at the University of London on a Fulbright fellowship.

He currently lives near Vallonia with his wife, Maureen, who runs the Maureen O’Hara Pesta Art Gallery and exhibits her work at the Brown County Art Guild in Nashville. She also is an award-winning artist and the book cover illustrator of her husband’s new anthology.

Their son, Jesse Pesta, is the deputy editor of the Climate Team at The New York Times and a fine arts photographer on the side, while their daughter, Abigail Pesta, is the author of the book “The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down” and co-author with Sandra Uwiringiyimana of the book “How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child.”

All of the stories in the “King of the Yellow Jackets and Other Stories” anthology focus on characters whose experiences are equal parts haunting, funny and poignant, whether the setting is a midnight flirtation with a convenience store clerk, a middle school basketball court or an imagined and slightly twisted near future.

The title story is the tale of a little boy who thinks he can communicate with bees.

Pesta’s book can be purchased online at amazon.com. Readers who would like an autographed copy can purchase the book from his website.

The book also is available locally at The Magic of Books Bookstore, 113 W. Second St., Seymour, and Stuckwish Farm Market, 4683 S. State Road 135, Vallonia.

Pesta is currently working on a second anthology.

“The second collection, like the first, covers a broad range of topics, everything from aging rock stars to nosy neighbors,” Pesta said. “Many of the stories were published in literary magazines throughout my writing career.”

Pesta also is the author of the mystery novels “Safely Buried” and “The More You Stir It,” which follow a southern Indiana newspaperman through dramas that expose the murderous secrets of a town where people want to keep the past hidden.

His novel “Crates” tells the story of a young woman searching for freedom and identity in the tradition-bound 1950s in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

His short story “The Werley Boys,” published in book form, is a madcap small-town misadventure about revenge in a dispute over an outhouse.

Some of his books also are available at the Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour, and Fallen Leaf Books, 45 S. Jefferson St., No. 7055, Nashville.

Pesta said he’s very grateful for his loyal readers. He loves hearing their thoughts on various scenes and characters, and he’s happy when they anticipate his latest work.

He said he has another novel in the works, too, and the idea for the book came from recollections of his childhood in Allentown.

“It’s the story of a young boy who forms an unusual friendship, which changes his views on life,” Pesta said. “The writing is done, and now I’m working on editing.”

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John Pesta’s latest book, “King of the Yellow Jackets and Other Stories,” can be purchased online at amazon.com.

Readers who would like an autographed copy can purchase the book online at johnpesta.com.

The book also is available locally at The Magic of Books Bookstore, 113 W. Second St., Seymour, and Stuckwish Farm Market, 4683 S. State Road 135, Vallonia.