Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Writing Life by Jean Henry Mead, Guest Blogger

I'm pleased to introduce my guest blogger for today, Jean Henry Mead. Jean's path to publication began when she was only nine. You can tell from her story that she was committed to her writing goals at an early age, and she has carried through by working hard and taking advantage of a variety of opportunities.


My Writing Life By Jean Henry Mead

I never dreamed of becoming a writer, although I used to rush home from school to write another chapter of my first novel on construction paper to entertain classmates when I was nine. Fortunately, it was never published.

When I was eleven, I visited the library each Saturday to carry home an armload of books, everything from astronomy to zoology. The nonfiction phase of my life carried through to high school where I wrote articles for the school paper. Later, while a divorced mother of four, I served as editor of my college newspaper while working part time for my hometown daily newspaper as a cub reporter and later as editor for a San Diego newspaper. When I remarried four years later, we moved from California to Wyoming, where I worked for the statewide newspaper and was editor of In Wyoming Magazine. I also freelanced for the Denver Post’s Empire Magazine and other publications both domestically and abroad.

I had always specialized in interviews, so I decided to write my first book. Driving the state alone, I interviewed well known people such as attorney Gerry Spence, Governor Herschler, our U.S. senators, country singer Chris LeDoux and other notable residents. That trip will someday become the basis for another mystery novel.

My second nonfiction book was the basis for my first novel, Escape on the Wind, later republished as Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel. The book that triggered the novel, Casper Country: Wyoming’s Heartland, is a centennial history that nearly did me in. I spent more than two years researching old newspapers on microfilm at the library—98 years’ worth. I also had to collect over 200 pages of photographs to accompany the text. Every edition fortunately sold out and Casper Country became a textbook at Casper College. I had so many notes left over when the book was published that I decided to someday write a novel.

Western Writers of America held a convention in Casper and I joined the organization of some 600 members and was named national publicity director. I then wrote Maverick Writers, interviews with Louis L’Amour, Will Henry, A.B. Guthrie, Jr., Hollywood screenwriters and others. Visiting L’Amour and Guthrie in their homes was the highlight of my career.

I interviewed so many writers, actors, politicians, artists and ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things that a collection of my best interviews was later published as Westerners: Candid and Historic Interviews. I also wrote a Wyoming Trivia book and edited What Our Parents Should Know: Advice from Teens. My daughter’s advanced middle school students in Salt Lake City wrote the book, which included chapters on drugs, coed sleepovers, sports envy, homosexuality and other topics.

I then wrote my first mystery novel, Shirl Lock & Holmes, with 60-year old widows as sassy senior sleuths in a retirement village where their friends and club members are dropping dead alphabetically. My publisher closed its door so I sold the series to another publisher, which became the Logan & Cafferty series, the first book titled, A Village Shattered. I then placed Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty in a motorhome and had them leave California on vacation. During the trip, Dana learns that her sister, a mystery writer, has died and her husband claims it was suicide. The senior sleuths then set out to prove it was murder. Dana inherited her sister’s mansion so Wyoming becomes their new home, where they encounter a vicious drug ring and more bodies. The book is titled, Diary of Murder. I’m currently working on the third novel in the series, Murder on the Interstate, which takes place in Arizona, in an area where I used to live. I’m incorporating the events currently taking place there.

My 13th book is my fourth book of interviews. Mysterious Writers is a collection of my blog articles featuring Carolyn Hart, Jeffrey Deaver, Louise Penny, John Gilstrap, Elmore Leonard—more than 70 mystery writers in all, with articles about the publishing industry written by each author. Released this month on Kindle, B&N and Sony readers, Mysterious Writers will hopefully appear in print in the near future.

Jean, I really appreciate you being here today and sharing your own path to publication. For those who want to know more about Jean and her books, see these interviews posted at her website. Jean is a contributor to the Make Mine Mystery blog and to Murderous Musings. She is the host of Mysterious Writers which features interviews with some of the best known writers in the mystery genre.

20 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

Patricia, thanks for hosting Jean.

Jean, enjoyed your post very much. Your books all sound quite interesting and intriguing. I'll bet the novel you wrote at age 9 would be quite interesting too. :) Best of luck.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Karen Walker said...

Whew, quite impressive. Thanks, Patricia, for hosting Jean.
karen

Jayne said...

Hello Patricia, new follower here - came by way of Under the Tiki Hut. :)

Very interesting to read about Jean. I like the sound of her senior sleuths!

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks for hosting me on your lovely site, Pat, and for the kind words from Mason, Karen and Jayne. You've made my day!

Ann Best said...

I enjoyed meeting Jean and am going to check out her website. Thanks for hosting her today!

Your blog, Pat, is pointing me "back" to one of my three favorite genres. I LOVE murder mysteries, and am having so much fun right now reading yours, and lining up the ones I want to read this summer.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning everyone. I'm enjoying my Thursday guest bloggers so much. I was able to learn even more about Jean than I already knew, and discover her author interview collection which I hadn't heard about. Thanks again for being here, Jean.

Jayne, welcome to the blog. As a "novice novelist" you should be interested in this path to publication series, which will run at least through September and maybe longer.

Ann, I read everything, but love mysteries and thrillers the most. Maybe I should do another post on my favorites, especially the Colorado and Wyoming writers I love.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Thanks for hosting Jean, Patricia! I loved learning a little more about her. She's definitely an interviewer extraordinaire...and a busy writer!

Cricket McRae said...

Enjoyable post. I'm really impressed by the breadth of your writing, Jean!
Hearth Cricket

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the sound of all the books you've written Jean - awesome :)

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. You're an excellent interviewer yourself, so I consider that a real compliment.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Cricket. I love your name. May I borrow it for a novel character?

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Jemi. My novels were a lot of fun to write and I hope to have the third L&C novel finished soon so I can start on my new series about a homeopathic sleuth. :)

Glynis said...

A fascinating interview, thank you for sharing with us Jean.

Patricia, thank you for an interesting post and guest.

Jean Henry Mead said...

My pleasure, Glynis. :)

Ben Small said...

Jean, with every stroke on the keyboard, I learn more from you. Your interviews are so rich and informative, and your mysteries so clever. At least there's some benefit to snow nine months a year: more writing time. Here's to many snowfalls and lots more success. Someday, someone, will be writing books about you. Keep writing. I enjoy your books immensely. Ben

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Thanks Patricia for having Jean, I came home after a day I waant to forget and read this wonderful post.

Yvonne.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Ben, what a nice thing to say. Thank you! But no thanks on the nine months of snow. I'd be heading south for warmer digs. It only snows from October to May, sometimes June. On second thought, I remember when it snowed on the 6th of July. :)

Get well soon and keep writing those fascinating books of yours.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Patricia, for stopping by as well as the kind words.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Jean, it has been my pleasure! Thanks for checking in often to respond to comments. And you have an open invitation to drop by for a cup of coffee and a chat anytime. :)

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Pat. This has been upliting and fun. Make that a cup of chai tea and I'll cetainly be back. :)