About the Author
Mark F. Johnson has been passionate about reading and writing for most of his life. Since elementary school he excelled in language, reading and writing. His reading and writing skills were acknowledged all through middle school and into high school where he was editor of his high school newspaper. The Beacon of Washington DC’s Woodrow Wilson High, now Jackson-Reed named in part for his all-time favorite teacher Edna Jackson, won multiple national journalism awards from Quill and Scroll, the national high school journalism achievement organization.
Mark then went on to write for The Hatchet, the college newspaper at George Washington University where he attended undergraduate school and after graduation and moving to the Windy City wrote for a community newspaper on the South Side of Chicago called the Hyde Park Herald, which served the local community surrounding the University of Chicago where he was a graduate student. In-between college and taking a year off before moving to Chicago for graduate studies, Mark worked as a News Clerk at the Washington Bureau of The New York Times. Clerks at the time never received bylines for their stories but Mark did have news pieces published in The New York Times.
Upon completing his grad studies in international affairs in Chicago, Mark moved back to Washington, DC and began working at a Fellowship at the Library of Congress Foreign Affairs and National Defense division where he researched topics and wrote reports for members of Congress. He then went on to several public policy and political jobs in Washington, DC including the American Association of Retired Persons. While in DC, Mark worked for several years as a freelance reporter for the Washington Blade, the city’s LGTBQ newspaper. There, Mark wrote many front page news stories and feature pieces. He was sent by the Blade to New York and Chicago to report on news happenings at various times. While in Washington during these years, Mark also published his first fiction piece, a short story called Mr. Rogers’ Neighbor in a publication for gay men based in Los Angeles. Later, Mark moved to New York to become News Media Director at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). After leaving GLAAD, Mark worked as a LGTBQ media outreach coordinator for the Clinton-Gore reelection campaign in 1996.
Mark then went on to become the Communications Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, based in Washington. There he managed the news and public relations arm of the historic social justice organization and wrote press releases, op-eds and other commentary articles. He also appeared on broadcast television and radio programs. Mark then went on to work for other social justice organizations as communications director including the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the nation’s largest association for journalists of African descent and for others who support their mission and their presence. After leaving NABJ Mark went to work for Washington’s City Hall as Communications Director to the Chairman of the City Council, the city’s legislative branch. At the time, in 2001, the City Council’s Communications Director was the de facto Communications Director for the entire City Council in terms of putting out a unified message from that branch of government. His role included writing press releases, op-ed pieces, speeches for the Council Chair, talking points, brochures, news articles for the Chairman and appearances on television and radio news. Mark was in that position for more than seven years and the position ended when the then Council Chairman lost her seat due to a failed run to become the city’s second female mayor in 2006.
After that, Mark opened a business selling vintage furniture, art and accessories on 14th Street just below U street in what had become Washington’s “furniture row.” After six very successful years on 14th Street, his business, Hunted House Vintage and Mid Century Modern, moved to the burgeoning H Street, NE corridor, near Union Station and continued its level of sales there by attracting new customers from Atlas District and Capitol Hill while retaining many of his prior customers from NW and from the suburbs.
That is what led to Mark’s very first novel called White After Labor Day. It is a period piece based in 1959 and set outside of Washington in Arlington, Va. It is based on a true piece of history.
Mark likes to tell the story of how the novel, published by Olympia Publishers at the end of March 2022 is in great part the result of the furniture and other pieces from the 1950s `60s and `70s that he sold at his store “speaking to me and asking me to tell their stories”. Mark has always been a history buff, particularly of the period of the middle 20th century during which time the Civil Rights movement really got its footing and the desire to conquer outer space among much of the American society took speed. White After Labor Day considers this period and how the lives of people who came together during a real event, might have been impacted.
In addition to working on a second novel, also a period piece set in the mid-1960s in New York City, Mark works as a contract public relations professional. He writes press releases, television and radio copy, fact sheets, and feature pieces for various clients around the nation.