Ninth book for local author

Published 6:38 pm Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mark Schweizer’s ‘The Countertenor Wore Garlic’ set to come out in April
Don’t let local Tryon writer Mark Schweizer in on any of your secrets. They just might be revealed in the latest edition of his liturgical mystery series – especially if they have a musical bent.
Growing up in Winter Park, Fla., Schweizer has been involved in music ever since his mother forced him to take piano lessons. He went on to study vocal performance at Stetson University, graduating in 1979 with a bachelor of music degree in performance.

Mark Schweizer

“It was a toss-up. The family business was architecture, but I decided to pursue music as a career as soon as I discovered the math requirement for architecture majors,” he said.
Music also played a big part in Schweizer’s personal life.  He and his wife, Donis, a violinist, met when they both worked at the Farmhouse Restaurant in Blowing Rock, N.C. Now closed, the establishment used to hire college students (mostly music/drama majors) to wait tables, sing, dance, play instruments, and put on shows during the summer.
“It was great experience. They provided room and board and a venue for creativity,” said Schweizer.
After earning master’s of music and doctor of musical arts degrees from the University of Arizona, Schweizer joined the faculty of Stetson University and, later, Louisiana College to teach voice, opera and theory. At the same time, he sang for regional opera companies across the south.
Throughout his career as a vocal artist, Schweizer worked part time as a church choir director. In 1989, he started St. James Music Press, a church music publishing company that specializes in choral church music.
In the early 90s, he took a full time job as a church musician at a large Methodist church in Hopkinsville, Ky., about 60 miles north of Nashville, Tenn., where the Schweizers raised their children, Christopher and Lindy.
Focusing on St. James Press after retiring from the church about seven years ago, Schweizer grew his company, which now supplies more than 1,200 anthems to about 8,000 churches worldwide. Although he does a lot of the writing and arranging of the choral anthems, he has more than 200 composers represented in the St. James Press catalog.
Ever seeking creative outlets, Schweizer decided to target his audience of church musicians and church choir members and promote his self-published, tongue-in-cheek mystery series. Drawing from some of his own experiences, his protagonist, a small North Carolina town police chief named Hayden Konig, also happens to work as a part time church choir director and write liturgical mysteries.
The first book in the series, “The Alto Wore Tweed,” won the 2004 Independent Mystery Booksellers Association “Killer Books” selection and has sold about 40,000 copies so far. According to Schweizer, when a new book comes out, it sells about 3,000-3,500 copies the first year.
“Word of mouth has been the best marketing tool as well as great reviews on blogs. The books now have a very good following in Indy bookstores, mystery bookstores and on,” said Schweizer, who also writes and produces mystery dinner theater based on his books.
There may very well be a few similarities to Tryon in the latest books since the eighth book, “The Organist Wore Pumps,” came out last April several months after the Schweizers relocated here. The ninth book in the series, “The Countertenor Wore Garlic,” comes out this April.
To learn more about St. James Music Press or the other books in Schweizer’s series, go to or visit the Book Shelf on Pacolet Street in Tryon.

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