Getting to Know Jean Henry Mead
Topic: Author Interview
Jean Mead the person:
1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
That's a tough question. Impatient, determined and compassionate. I'm impatient to get things done, determined to succeed in whatever I attempt, and hopefully, I'm compassionate.
2. How do you think others would describe you?
Because I'm basically shy, people sometimes think I'm aloof. I hope they think I'm dependable because I try very hard not to let anyone down. And I'm sure they think I'm a little eccentric, but most writers are.
3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
I love animals, especially dogs. I also like photography and I'm a bibliophile. I have thousands of books, some of which I've had since I was a child. We're either going to have to build a library or just buy multi-format books for our ebook readers.
4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
I had two dogs until last month when my lovable black lab, Muggles, was struck by a pickup truck. I now have a very lonely Australian Sheppard, Miriah, as well as two crazy ducks named Vern and Shirley. I also have Chicki, a hen that was nearly killed by her flock mates. Only Miriah is allowed in the house. :)
5. What is your most precious memory?
When my first grandchild was born and my very nervous son-in-law brought him out of the delivery room wrapped in a blanket.
6. What was your most embarrassing memory?
I embarrass easily so it would be hard to remember just one. Okay, I do remember when the batteries fell out of the bottom of my tape recorder and rolled under a massive desk the night I crashed a cocktail party at a local bank to interview sportscaster Curt Gowdy. I had to return the following day to interview him in the bank lobby with lots of people present. Not an easy way to conduct an interview.
7. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
I would either be a photographer or an anthropologist. I'm fascinated by ancient civilizations. If not married, I'd probably be an aid worker in a foreign country. I've worked at various jobs such as teacher, secretary, sales, office manager, parts chaser for our business, magazine editor, photojournalist and news reporter, but nothing pleases me more than being a novelist.
8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary. (This was so hard)
Jean was born the eldest of five children and the only girl in an otherwise all-boy neighborhood, the reason she was a tom-boy and unafraid to try new things. Her curiosity sometimes got her into trouble but it served her well as an adult when she began her writing career. Divorced at 27, with four young daughters, she started college, carrying a full load of classes while working, and coaching her daughters' softball teams. Doing their homework together, the five of them managed to stay on the honor rolls.
Four years later, she remarried and the family moved to Wyoming where they began a new life.
Working as a magazine editor and freelance photojournalist, Jean's magazine articles were published domestically as well as abroad, winning some awards. In 1982 her first book was published and others followed. Later, her grandchildren arrived and life was complete, although not always easy. She once said that she would like to be remembered as someone who tried her best.
Jean Mead the writer:
9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?
I realized I was a real writer when I got my first news reporting job with the local daily newspaper while editor of my campus weekly. But I wrote my first novel when I was nine, a chapter a day to entertain classmates. I wrote it on construction paper with pencil and it got rave reviews from my classmates because it made them laugh. I've always included humor in all my books, including nonfiction. I cringe remembering my first newspaper article, titled, "Are mosquitos bugging you?" I don't think the publisher appeciated my wacky humor.
10. What is going on with your writing these days?
I'm working on a third novel for my Logan & Cafferty senior sleuth mystery series as well as a children's book, The Mystery of Spider Mountain and an historical novel about the hanging of "Cattle Kate." Three books at once is about all I handle. The second novel in my Logan & Cafferty series, Diary of Murder, will be out next spring
11. What are your future goals for your writing?
To continue writing my mystery/suspense series and western historicals. Maybe even more children's novels. I would someday like to have some of my novels published as audio books.
12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
I'm usually at my computer by eight each morning where I remain until noon, and one until three in the afternoon. I love writing, so it's not a chore. Getting the housework and laundry done is the real chore. I've heard other women writers say, "What I need is a wife to keep up the household." I agree. Men writers are usually relieved of household chores but are burdened with the responsibility of earning a living. But a lot of women work and write too.
13. Why do you write?
Because it's in me to write and it brings me great of joy when the writing goes well, which is most of the time. I give my characters free rein and they rarely lead me astray. I just type as fast as I can to keep up with them.
14. Which writers most inspired you? Why?
Ernest Hemingway inspired me because he changed the way modern literature is written. I have a difficult time reading some of the flowery language of the classics although I have over a hundred classic novels on my bookshelves. It's probably because of my journalism training, and Hemingway began as a journalist. I was also born on his birthday.
I studied Dean Koontz's writing style when I was attempting to make the transition between journalism and fiction. I've always liked the way he strings his words together, although some of his early novels were pretty flowery at times.
15. How do you define your writing?
I had to think about that for a while. Someone recently compared my historical novel, Escape, to Hemingway's work. I was flattered but can't quite see it. I like to follow actual events in my historical books, so it could be considered faction rather than fiction. I like to think of my books as an honest portrayal of the human condition, both past and present. And of course, generously sprinkled with humor. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we're in trouble. I enjoy writing mysteries most because they're such a challenge. I also like reading mysteries and trying to solve the crime before the fictional detectives.
16. In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
That they couldn't put my books down, that they enjoyed the humor and solving the mysteries as well as learning something from reading them.
Jean Mead the details:
17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?
19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Most of them are out of print but can be found on various used book sites:
A Village Shattered, Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novel; Wyoming in Profile, Casper Country: Wyoming's Heartland, Maverick Writers (written as S. Jean Mead), Westerners, Wyoming's Cowboy Poets, Wyoming Historical Trivia (written as J. J. Hammond), Escape on the Wind, What Our Parents Should Know: Advice From Teens (edited), and Shirl Lock & Holmes (as Jean Henry).
20. For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
Mystery, suspense, humor, a little romance, western facts and fiction, and hopefully an enjoyable read.
21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
That my writing comes from the heart. That I love my characters and live with them 24/7 while I'm writing a book, which means that Sarah Cafferty and Dana Logan live with me most of the time. That I spent nearly four years researching and writing Casper Country: Wyoming's Heartland and had so many notes left over that I wrote Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novel. That I've interviewed hundreds of writers, actors, Hollywood screenwriters, artists, politicians and other celebrities. Most of the interviews are between the covers of my books: Westerners, Maverick Writers and Wyoming in Profile. And that writing is my favorite pastime.
Posted by joyceanthony
at 4:32 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 19 December 2008 4:37 AM EST