Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Interview With Jean Henry Mead About Her New Release and More
Jean began her career as a California news reporter, later serving as editor for a San Diego newspaper, Wyoming magazine editor, and freelance photojournalist. She also freelanced for the Denver Post’s Empire Magazine as well as other publications both domestically and abroad, earning her a number of regional and national Press Women Awards.
The first of her 13 books was published in 1982, four of them books of interviews with well known people: writers, actors, politicians as well as ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things.
Her latest book, Mysterious Writers, is now available from Poisoned Pen Press, first in Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Sony ebook editions. The interviews were featured last year on her Mysterious People blog site and include several Acme writers: Morgan Mandel, Robert W. Walker, Tony Burton, Austin Camacho and former teammate, John Gilstrap.
Jean, tell us more about your new book, Mysterious Writers.
The book is a collection of interviews with mystery writers such as bestselling novelists, Elmore Leonard, Carolyn Hart, Jeffrey Deaver, Nancy Pickard and Louise Penny. I also included my A.B. Guthrie, Jr. interview, which was conducted just before his death in 1991. The other 68 interviews are lesser known but excellent writers who give good advice to aspiring mystery and crime writers. Some of them live and write in Canada, England, Scotland and Greece and all were a pleasure to interview. Collectively, they represent nearly every subgenre of the mystery/crime market.
Why did you write the book?
To help fledgling writers. I wish there had been a book like this when I was learning to write fiction, which is quite a bit different than journalism. Fiction is subjective while journalism is objective, or should be. The book is loaded with great advice as well as detailing each writer’s own struggles to get published.
Which subjects are covered in the book?
Advice to aspiring writers, writing schedules and techniques, research, character development, the best and worst aspects of writing, which writers influenced their own work, how they feel about the publishing industry and, of course, their own work. Those are only a few of the subjects covered. Most of all, we get to know each writer and how they operate.
How long did it take to interview all those writers?
It took about a year to interview close to a hundred writers. I was doing one interview a day plus a guest blog the second day. It cut drastically into my own writing, but I was rewarded for my efforts when Poisoned Pen Press offered me a contract.
Which other interview books have you published?
My first was Wyoming in Profile, published by Pruett in 1982. I interviewed Wyoming Governor Herschler, his wife, U.S. senators Alan Simpson and Malcolm Wallop, Attorney Gerry Spence, singer Chris LeDoux and nearly every well-known person in the state. It was the first and only time I left my five children and husband to travel the state to conduct interviews in person, something I no longer do.
My second and most successful book of interviews was Maverick Writers, published by Caxton Press. It features interviews from the homes of Louis L’Amour and A. B. Guthrie, Jr., as well as Will Henry, Janet Dailey, Hollywood screenwriters and some forty other well known writers of the West. I’m giving away five vintage copies of Maverick Writers tomorrow, June 10, at Facebook. To be eligible, click on the “Like” icon at the top of the page.
The third interview book, Westerners, is a collection of my best interviews, including Bill Cody, grandson of “Buffalo Bill,” who surrendered the most American troops in Germany during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. And President Benjamin Harrison’s grandson, who was a U.S. Congressman. One of my favorites was Betty Evenson, a 68-year old confessions writer who ran the Bright Spot, a service station and café, 60 miles from the nearest Wyoming town, alone after her husband died. She was featured on the Phil Donahue Show and prime time TV programs.
What else have you written?
Four novels, and an unusual book I edited that was written by my daughter’s middle school students titled, What Our Parents Should Know: Advice From Teens. They wrote about drugs, coed sleepovers, friends, sports, homosexuality, dress codes, teachers, and much more. One of the students, unfortunately, was drowned in the Thailand tsunami not long afterward.
My first novel was a result of nearly four years research for my third nonfiction book, a centennial history of central Wyoming, researched by reading 97 years worth of microfilmed newspapers. I had so many notes left over that I decided to write Escape on the Wind (republished later as Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel) . The following three books are mystery suspense novels, Shirl Lock and Holmes, A Village Shattered and Diary of Murder. I’ve also written a children’s book, The Mystery of Spider Mountain, which I’m currently marketing.
What have you learned from all the interviews with other writers?
That perseverance and courage pay off. Or as bestselling romance novelist Parris Afton Bonds once told me: “Talent is cheap. The difference between a professional and an amateur is persistence.” There are, however, differing opinions. Nancy Means Wright, my current online interviewee, says “A driving curiosity to discover what makes people tick” is most important, “and to virtually become these real or fictitious people , and vicariously live their lives.”
Thanks for your great advice, Jean.
Now everyone, please welcome Jean Henry Mead by leaving a comment below.