JEAN HENRY MEAD

Who are you?

Jean Henry Mead

What do you write?

Mystery/suspense and historical novels as well as children’s mysteries and nonfiction articles and books.

Where do you live, and what does your work space look like?

I live on a mountaintop ranch in the beautiful northwest.

How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

I write everyday and because I share a home office with my husband, its rarely quiet, but I began my writing career in a noisy news room so I could probably write in a traffic jam. I outline my nonfiction books but do not outline my novels. That stifles my creativity.

Got anything to brag about? (Awards? Upcoming releases?)

I’m an award-winning photojournalist with state, regional and nonfiction national awards.

My first children’s book, Mystery of Spider Mountain, was just released from Solstice Publishing and the third novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series, Murder on the Interstate, was released in April from Oak Tree Press.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us what it is and why you think it’s gonna be a “gotta have” k?

I’m currently working on my second children’s book, The Ghost of Crimson Dawn, and an historical western novel, No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy, which is the true story of Ellen Watson-Averell, who was hanged by greedy cattlemen in 1889, with her husband because cattemen wanted their homestead land to graze cattle. When I read about the murders while researching another book, I was angry and decided to write about it because they told lies about her and ruined her reputation after her death.

Tell us how to find you and your stuff. (All your website and blog links)

My webpage is www.jeanhenrymead.com and I blog at four sites (two of them my own).

Mysterious Writers: http://mysteriouspeople.blogspot.com/
Writers of the West: http://writersofthewest.blogspot.com/
Murderous Musings: http://murderousmusings.blogspot.com/
Make Mine Mystery: http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/

Four Facebook pages and Twitter.

**

First, give us the basics. Who are you, personally? Got a family? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us where you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

I’m a gun toting Westerner born in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. I moved to the Rocky Mountains when I married my husband. I had five children but lost one daughter to cancer nearly three years ago. She was the only one of my children who had inherited my writing ability, which was passed on to me by my dad.

Second, what do you write? And how do you do it? Spill it all. Are you a shower poet? Pet your cat while you type one handed? Get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

I hate to quote a cliché, but I write because it’s in me to write. I’m not happy when I’m not writing. And like so many other writers have said, “It’s like breathing. It’s something you have to do.”

I’m a dog person and have no cats, but I do pet my dog when she sticks her head under my elbow when I’m typing and the words on the screen are suddenly in some alien language. I have a beautiful Australian Shepherd who resembles a wolf. We had to buy a her a thick orange collar when the state legislature passed a bill allowing hunters to shoot wolves on sight. Neighboring ranchers wouldn’t hesitate to shoot if my dog happened to get loose and chase their cattle or sheep.

Third, how long have you been writing professionally? Any cool stories about how you got started? Or mistakes you’ve made. Feel free to elaborate. Just paragraph in between, but, by all means, ENTERTAIN US.

My first writing job came about when I was editor-in-chief of my college newspaper. I was a divorced mother of four young daughters who went back to school at age 27, and worked for the local newspaper as a cub reporter while attending college. I sometimes had to take my youngest daughter to classes with me and it must have influenced her because she grew up to be a school teacher. My daughters and I did our homework together and all managed to stay on our respective honor and president’s rolls.

Fourth, any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

No margarita downing contest but when I worked for a newspaper in San Diego, a group of reporters went to lunch at a local cantina and had a couple of margaritas with our meals. When I got back to the office, my fingers kept getting stuck between my typewriter keys. That was the 1970s.C. (before computers)

I was fortunate that two award-winning western novelists, Fred Grove and Richard S. Wheeler, took me under their professional wings when I was attempting to write my first novel, Escape on the Wind, an historical western. I’ll be forever grateful to them. The novel has been published by three different publishers over the years, most recently as Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novel, and remains my best selling book to this day.

Fifth, tell us about your first published work. What was it? When did it come out?

I drove around Wyoming interviewing politicians such as Dick Cheney, Governor Herschler, our U.S. senators as well as sportscaster Curt Gowdy, Gerry Spence, country singer Chris LeDoux, and everyone who was “somebody” in the state. The book was titled Wyoming in Profile and published by Pruett of Boulder, Colorado in 1982. I’ve since published three other books of interviews, including my blog interviews from Mysterious Writers by Poisoned Pen Press. I’ve published 14 books to date, both fiction and nonfiction.

Got any awards to brag about?

Quite a few nonfiction awards: state, regional and national from Press Women and a couple of fiction awards from Wyoming Writers.
 
Do you have any dreams as a writer? Go ahead, give us your best fantasy.

I think every writer would like to have at least one bestseller. And I’d love to have a couple of audio books and a TV series based on my mystery novels. 

Do you have any tidbits of help for other writers that you’d like to pass along? Please, by all means, inspire us. Point us in the “write” direction.

Read everything you can, regardless of genre and study the styles of other writers, for good and bad writing. Then, when you think your manuscript is the best you can write, put it away for a month before you look at it again. When you do, read it as though someone else had written it. Polish and edit it again before you send it out to agents or editors. The biggest mistake fledgling writers make is to send their work out too soon. If you can afford a professional editor, by all means hire one.
 
Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid? Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?

Inexperienced writers should take the advice of those who have been in the business for a while. I’ve seen too many scribblers who think their masterpieces can’t be improved, or are written in stone. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, as most writers have, but we learn from those mistakes and try again. I could paper an outhouse with all the rejections I’ve received for short stories I’ve written. I finally decided that I was best at writing long fiction, or novels.

Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K?

Thank you for featuring me on your site.
 

 THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW, JEAN. IT’S A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU ON MY BLOG.

~Jennifer

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11 Responses to “JEAN HENRY MEAD”

  1. Beth Anderson Says:

    We learn something new every time, don’t we. Jean, I did not know about your personal tragedy three years ago. I commend you for keeping on with your writing career, it’s what your daughter would have wanted. Wonderful interview!

  2. Marilyn Meredith Says:

    This is a great interview and once again I’ve learned more about an author I admire.

    Marilyn

  3. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Great advice for writers, both new and not-so-new. Thank you!

  4. Vivian Zabel Says:

    Thanks for an enjoyable interview, Jean and Jennifer.

  5. Jackie King Says:

    Loved the interview. Your margarita story made me smile. When I was still at my day job one of our VP’s took us to lunch and insisted we all have a glass of wine. I adored this man, so I did. I wasn’t used to drinking and when I got back to the office I pretty much couldn’t do anything except smile a lot. I had an important invoice to prepare (think in the millions) and was unable to function. I told my assistant that if she’d bail me out (I was able to give giggling directions) that I’d never drink at lunch again.
    Cheers,
    Jackie

  6. Marja McGraw Says:

    Great interview, and having read a couple of your books, I can only say that everyone should read them. When I read Murder on the Interstate, my husband and I were on our way to Durango, Colorado. Interesting, I was traveling the same path that your book took, and passing places in the book as I read it.

  7. jeanhenrymead@aol.com Says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for allowing me to reveal my quirky side. 🙂

  8. jeanhenrymead@aol.com Says:

    Thank you, Anne, for the kind words and for coordinating a great blog tour!

  9. jeanhenrymead@aol.com Says:

    Marilyn, you’re my role model and I appreciate your support.

    Thank you, Vivian.

    And, Jackie, luv, thank you for a very enjoyable read.

  10. jeanhenrymead@aol.com Says:

    Thanks, Marja. I’m a fan of both your mystery series and certainly appreaciate your kind words..

  11. Jean Henry Mead Says:

    Thanks you, Jennifer. I’m sorry I missed this while I was on the road. Thanks aso everyone for the very kind comments.

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