John Pesta ~ Novelist

John Pesta is a former publisher of a small-town newspaper, professor of English literature and short-order cook, as well as the award-winning author of numerous mysteries, novels and short stories. His books are available as paperbacks and for Kindle at and also for sale at bookstores and markets around Southern Indiana, where he lives and writes with his wife, the artist Maureen O’Hara Pesta.

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BIG NEWS: Signed copies of John’s latest book, “King Of the Yellow Jackets,” are now for sale right here! In addition, signed copies of “Crates: A Novel” are now available as well.

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“A riveting journey into the depths
of rural Midwest corruption and scandal.”

“The main characters ~ Phil and Paula, in
particular ~ are finely drawn, complex and will
stay with the reader long after the book is over.”

~ Kirkus Reviews, praising “Safely Buried”

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If you’ve already read one (or more) of John’s books, we hope you’ll tell all your book-loving friends on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and consider writing a note or review on or It’s wonderful to see the books being discovered around the world. Thank you!

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''Safely Buried,'' a mystery by John Pesta ''The More You Stir It,'' a mystery by John Pesta

“Safely Buried” and “The More You Stir It” follow the investigative adventures of a small-town newspaperman in the rural Midwest embroiled in dramas that expose the secrets of a community where people are willing to go to great lengths to keep the past hidden.

Safely Buried was awarded the top prize for fiction in the 2012 Best Books of Indiana contest, a competition organized by the Indiana State Library. John’s mystery writing has received numerous other awards as well, including at the London Book Festival and the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

HOW TO PURCHASE: “Safely Buried” and “The More You Stir It” are available on in paperback and Kindle.

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''Crates,'' a novel by John Pesta

“Crates,” set in the tradition-bound 1950s in Allentown, Pennsylvania, follows a young woman, Lorene, who married too early and is now trying to become her own person.

Lorene wants her freedom. Her husband wants her back. And their moody and inventive 11-year-old, coming of age in a fractured home, is searching for himself. It’s the story of three souls navigating a world of midnight diners, long-haul trucking and drifting expectations in an America on the edge of a profound shift.

HOW TO PURCHASE: Signed copies of “Crates” are available here. Unsigned copies are available from in paperback and also for the Kindle.

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''King Of The Yellow Jackets,'' stories by John Pesta

In “King Of the Yellow Jackets” we meet: A little boy who thinks he can speak with bees. A man haunted for life by a childhood secret. A woman obsessed with her husband’s obsession with pin-up models.

This collection of short stories gathers a lifetime of writing in which John Pesta tells deeply human stories through characters whose experiences are equal parts haunting, funny and poignant, whether the setting is a midcentury childhood or an imagined, and slightly twisted, near future. Many originally appeared in acclaimed literary magazines including “Sou’wester,” “Prairie Schooner” and “The Bridge.” A few make their debut here.

All draw upon a life spent observing intriguing people and their enigmatic lives ~ fiction inspired by John’s Italian-Hungarian upbringing in Pennsylvania, his years spent in academia as a professor of English literature, and decades devoted to editing a historic newspaper in the heart of small-town America.

HOW TO PURCHASE: Signed copies of “King Of the Yellow Jackets” are available here. Unsigned copies are available from in paperback and also for the Kindle.

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''The Werley Boys,'' a short story by John Pesta

“The Werley Boys” is a short story about a small town, revenge ~ and one controversial outhouse.

Some people in town are unhappy with the Werley brothers, two old-timers who refuse to embrace modernity and give up their backyard outhouse in favor of a more modern convenience. But the brothers aren’t so thrilled themselves. They’re angry at the “communists” ~ folks on the town board who’d like them to give up something that, as far as they’re concerned, works perfectly well.

One evening, under cover of darkness, two town stalwarts take action. And the Werley boys will never look at their trusty outhouse the same way again.

HOW TO PURCHASE: “The Werley Boys” is available from in paperback and Kindle.

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John Pesta | Author

Copyright (c) John Thomas Pesta, all rights reserved. Contact the author by e-mailing JTP(at) Cover illustrations Copyright (c) Maureen O’Hara Pesta, all rights reserved.

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