Saturday, February 7, 2009

Which Way To The Lions?

By Pat Browning

Somewhere in that happy throng at this weekend’s Love Is Murder walks the witty and erudite Jonathan E. Quist. By his sport coat – a fine tweed coat with leather elbow pads – you shall know him.

Jonathan is writing his first mystery novel. He prepared for LIM by watching a Monty Python sketch on YouTube, and shopping for a sport coat that would make him look authorial. I persuaded him to let me post his e-mail on the subject, and when I asked for a mini-bio, he sent the following.


Jonathan E. Quist is a lifelong resident of Illinois,
where he learned everything he knows about
government ethics. A graduate of Northwestern
University, he has spent the past twenty years
failing to escape Information Technology for a
less lucrative field.

He wrote his first mystery nearly forty years ago,
to critical acclaim, but similarity to another story
prevented publication. Similarity. That's a laugh.
It was lifted outright from “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken”,
is what it was. But “plagiarism” wasn't in his
fourth-grade vocabulary list, until Mrs. Christensen
explained it.

Mr. Quist's turn-ons include sunny days
and playful kittens. His turn-offs are mean people
and wiggly seats on public toilets.

He currently lives 31.3 miles from the hospital
in which he was born, where by day he works for a
telecommunications equipment manufacturer,
and by night is writing the first novel in a
humorous historical traditional mystery series,
set in the world of small-time Vaudeville.


(In Monty Python's "Vocational Guidance Counsellor" sketch, Mr. Anchovy wants to make a career change away from chartered accountancy. The counselor asks if he has any idea what new career he would like to pursue.)

Anchovy: Yes, yes I have.

Counselor: What?

Anchovy: (boldly) Lion taming.

Counselor: Well yes. Yes. Of course, it's a bit of a jump isn't it? I mean, er, chartered accountancy to lion taming in one go. You don't think it might be better if you worked your way towards lion taming, say, via banking …

Anchovy: No, no, no, no. No. I don't want to wait. At nine o'clock tomorrow I want to be in there, taming.

Counselor: Fine, fine. But do you, do you have any qualifications?

Anchovy: Yes, I've got a hat.

Counselor: A hat?

Anchovy: Yes, a hat. A lion taming hat. A hat with ‘lion tamer’ on it. I got it at Harrods.

( Watch it all at

(Here Jonathan picks up his story … )

In preparation for Love is Murder
I went shopping at the local thrift store. I had an idea that I want to begin presenting a somewhat more professional, or if possible, authorial image at conferences.So I went in search of a tweed sport coat.

Looking through the racks, I began to despair -- nearly all the tags were marked “M”. Then I started looking for the maker's label, and discovered that whoever was tagging the goods was just guessing, “Medium”, and I began trying things on. I found a few genuine Harris Tweeds ( ) though they were all in rather medium sizes.

Then I found a coat that fit. I hung it on my cart, and continued to look. The notion of finding a coat with leather elbow pads was out of my mind; I figured I'd have to buy new for that.

But as I compared one of the Harris garments with mine, I picked up the sleeve to compare buttons, and lo and behold -- the elbow had a patch of suede …

And the coat was marked down. It was still a bit of a sum, but I got the coat for -- $2.56. Wasn't that the name of a beauty pageant?

So. Now I am a writer. I've got my coat, that says "Writer" on it, in bright neon letters.

Which way to the lions?

Jonathan blogs at


Auntie Knickers said...

Jon, my husband is rehearsing for the part of Sidney Redlitch (the writer) in Bell, Book and Candle. (It was Ernie Kovacs in the movie). He has been looking for just such a coat, and also running into that Medium thing. He will be green with envy at your find!

Jean Henry Mead said...

Yes, quite a find. Where did you come up it, Pat?

Kaye Barley said...

"Somewhere in that happy throng at this weekend’s Love Is Murder walks the witty and erudite Jonathan E. Quist."

I love this! Witty and erudite captures Jonathan to a "T!" and nice. I mean - look at that sweet face and tell me that is not a nice man!"

And one of these days, Mr. Quist will be walking among the throng with the title "author" included in him name. The man is one hell of a writer.

Great Post, Pat - many thanks to you and to Jonathan.

Kaye (hoping to see a picture of Jonathan in that good look Harris tweed sportscoat).

Nikki! How are rehearsals going?

Krill Press said...

Dear Mr. Quist:

By way of reference and information sir, I'd like to mention that Krill Press LLC is a full service micro-publisher, serving all the needs of mystery authors since 2008. Including their sartorial needs. We have a full service "Author's Duds" rental outlet, and carry everything from tuxes, to vintage 1890's one piece men's Coney Island bathing suits. Please don't hesitate to contact us before your next conference event by emailing:

Thank you.

Ken Lucas
Editorial Director

Anonymous said...


Jonathan lives in or near Chicago, so he went shopping in his neighborhood, I believe.

He included all the hotlinks when he e-mailed the material.

The interesting thing is that he wasn't writing for publication, just chatting on a personal e-mail list.

I almost laughed myself silly. It sounded so typical of a newbie author getting ready for a conference that I immediately wanted to share it through MurderousMusings.

When I asked for a bio he tossed that off by return mail.

"Witty and erudite" just barely begin to describe him.


Mark W. Danielson said...

I wish Jonathon the best in his quest. His name perfectly suits his writing style, and we can all use a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Beth Terrell said...

Welcome, Alanna! I hope you'll feel free to comment any time.