Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A-Z Challenge: J is for Jean Henry Mead

 It's a bit of a stretch to make this fit my theme of nature, but Jean is a human and we humans are part of nature, so..... Please help me welcome Jean to It's Not All Gravy today as Wednesday's Guest. Jean has just released a new book where I have an article included. She is a gracious interviewer and supporter of her fellow authors.

First, tell us a little about yourself, Jean.
I’ve published 17 books, nearly half of them mystery/suspense and historical novels as well as children’s mysteries. I began my writing career as a news reporter and freelance photojournalist fortunate to win some state, regional and national awards. I’ve served as a news, magazine and small press editor and have been published nationally as well as abroad. I was also a correspondent for the Denver Post, so interviewing people comes naturally.

What is a typical writing day like for you?
I’m up around six and arrive at my computer with a cup of tea in one hand and a bowl of oatmeal in the other. I check my email and sales reports, then launch into one of my writing projects. Around 10 a.m., I take a break for more tea and a load of laundry or other household chores, before returning to the computer until noon. After lunch I repeat the process until it’s time to prepare dinner. I write fulltime and am currently working on the fourth novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series, Gray Wolf Mountain as well as a Wyoming historical, No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy. I’ve also got another children’s mystery on the back burner.

What was the first thing you ever had published?
A newspaper story about my Tatoosh Islands adventure, which took place just prior to my first newspaper job. It was my first trip on a plane and it belly-dived onto the runway because the landing gear was stuck, which stranded me in Stockton, California, for six hours in the middle of the night until another plane arrived to take passengers to the Seattle-Tacoma airport. There I boarded a single-engine plane no bigger than my car to fly over the Olympic Mountains in air turbulence. The airline lost my luggage so I had to wear my brother’s Coast Guard uniforms on the small weather station island that he was in charge of at the time. The fog horn blew all night, keeping me awake for a week, and then we were fogged in the day I was supposed to leave. Two days later a Coast Guard cutter came to pick me up, with my luggage, and five minutes into the voyage back to Neah Bay, Washington, a wave swamped the boat and I looked like a drowned rat when I boarded the small plane for the flight back over the Olympic Mountains. I can laugh about it now, but it was a nightmare at the time.

What is the most unusual or interesting research you have done for your books?
I don’t think it’s that unusual but I drove a 38-foot motor-home and towed my car around the
Southwest, including over the Guadalupe Mountains, following my husband and our employees for six months to fulfill a contract. During that time I listened to truckers on my CB radio and wrote my second and third Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense novels, Diary of Murder and Murder on the Interstate, based on that experience. My two 60-year-old widowed amateur women sleuths travel the West in their motor-home, placing their lives in danger while solving murders. The books are laced with humor and a little romance (including a lovesick sheriff who inhabits two novels in the series).

If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be an anthropologist because I enjoy reading about ancient people and their customs. Or an artist or interior decorator because I love dabbling in oils as well as colors and design.

Where do your stories begin? With character or plot?
Definitely characters. My plots grow organically from the characters who people my books. I know my Logan & Cafferty protagonists so well that I sit and listen to their conversations and type as fast as I can to keep up with the dialogue. When you’re in the writing zone, or muse, there’s no happier high than when the story flows and your endorphins peak.

What else would you like to say to the people who will read the blog post?

That I wish a book like The Mystery Writers had been in print when I was struggling to learn to write fiction B.C. (before computers). The sixty bestselling, award-winning and mid-list authors offer great advice for novice writers as well as those of us who have been writing for years. I’m happy that I was able to incorporate most of the interviews from my Mysterious Writes blog site into the book, along with some valuable articles of advice. The Mystery Writers is my fifth interview book.

Thank you, Maryann, for the invitation to your site.

NOTE: The Mystery Writers is a collection of interviews and articles that features Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J.A. Jance, James Scott Bell, Julie Garwood and other bestselling, award-winning and mid-list authors. I am so honored to be included in the book with so many authors whose books I enjoy and respect. The writing advice in the book is invaluable for novice and veteran writers alike, regardless of the genres they work in.

Jean is very busy on the Internet. You can find her at the following places: 

Website  Mysterious Writers Blog   The View From My Mountaintop (where you can read about the Tatoosh Islands)    Murderous Musings  Make Mine Mystery   Facebook   Twitter @JeanHenryMead


Nick Wilford said...

Nice to meet you, visiting from the Challenge. Great interview. That's quite a story about Jean's first article, and I like the idea of typing fast to keep up with her characters' conversation!

Maryannwrites said...

Thanks for the visit, Nick. Glad you liked the interview.