About me, and how I came to be a publisher of Old Stories in Brilliant New Editions.

Mark Williams here, and I should introduce myself. I’m the guy with a publishing company to bring “lost” detective and crime stories of the late 1800s to new readers. My company is called Dark Lantern Tales, and here is how it came to be.

MW at The Vault Studio
A quick selfie during a session for Donald Lawrence at The Vault Studio in Charlotte.

My parents were artists, and while growing up I had no other expectation than to pursue life as an artist myself. But during my one erratic year in college I became part of a bootleg underground radio station and soon was in the music business, recording music for a living.

Most of the people in my life know me from the long career I had in the recording business. Obsessively pursuing the knowledge, skill, intuition, and opportunities to make fine recordings of music was way beyond a job – it was who I was! And that was for nearly fifty years, during which time I had to evolve through many changes in the recording industry. But a couple of years ago it became obvious to me that new changes in the business were more than I was up to tackling. It was finally time to call it a day.

End of a long day at OWN B
End of a long day of mixing at Oceanway Nashville Studio B. Photo by Pat McMakin

And that led to the question, “If I am not recording music, who am I?” Good question, and looking for a satisfying alternative, I began to imagine how I might create a publishing company to share my interest in an obscure area of literature.

Books, like records, are packets of culture and entertainment, so it didn’t seem like such a big leap to go from recording records to publishing books.

Beginning as a teenager, I studied late 19th century American history and collected artifacts. Over the years I further focused my interest on the popular fiction sold from newsstands to working folks in the 1800s. The publishing business of the 1880s was as seamy and chaotic as anything I experienced in the music business! Plus, I always felt a kindred with the hard living and hard working writers who scratched out thousands of words each day with pen and ink.

Source material for Dark Lantern Tales!

After a twelve-hour day working in a recording studio somewhere, I would relax in my hotel room with a glass or two of red, and prowl the internet. I was learning and looking for rare titles I wanted. My wife, Ann, would have the boxes of my online finds for me when I got back home.

A concept came to me that people might really enjoy the low brow, high action detective stories of the 1870s-1890s if they were easy to read. There are lots of readers who like Historical Fiction, and there is new interest in Victorian era drama on TV with shows like The Alienist, Ripper Street, and Penny Dreadful. Trying to read the fragile, browned originals, or trying to read scans from computer files, was OK for academics (and me) but someone on a long flight or sitting on a beach would want a convenient, modern book. Dark Lantern Tales now has over a dozen titles out in trade paperback and eBook formats, and eventually audiobooks will be available.

Frisco Detective paperback_2

So, to answer my question from a few paragraphs ago, I am now the curator, editor, and publisher of these stories from Dark Lantern Tales. Being immersed in these old detective stories, and going through all the stages to bring them from the scarce originals to new editions, has become my new obsession. My search is for adventurous Historical Fiction readers. Welcome to the world of action-packed crime thrillers of the late 1800s!

P.S. What is a “Dark Lantern?” The answer is here:


The Joe Phenix Detective Series


Gilded Age Detective Stories


Steam-Age Crime Stories



Come visit my new site!

“Lost” and Rediscovered Detective Thrillers from the 1800s in Brilliant New Editions


Dark Lantern Tales

Rediscover Crime and Detective Stories from the 1800s

#19thcentury, #mysteryreader, #historicalfiction, #victorians, #mysterybooks, #vintagemystery, #nychistory, #1800s

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