Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour with Jean Henry Mead

Jean Henry Mead--Mystery/Suspense Author

Jean Henry Mead is a mystery/suspense and historical fiction writer. She’s also an award winning photojournalist. One of her fortes is interviewing writers, actors, politicians and artists and ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. I’m delighted that today I’ll be interviewing Jean as today’s Mystery We Write Blog Tour author.



Jackie: Jean, welcome to Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness. Would you tell us a little about your latest mystery?

Jean: Murder on the Interstate is the third novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series. The series features Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, 60-year-old widows traveling in their motorhome along I-40 in northern Arizona. On the mountainous highway west of Flagstaff they find a murdered young woman in her Mercedes convertible. The killer returns while they’re investigating and shoots out their RV tires, leaving them stranded until a woman trucker arrives, prompting the killer to leave. They pile into the eighteen wheeler and follow him to get his license number, but he winds up pursuing them. In the process they wreck their motorhome, are caught in a flash flood and are kidnapped by his gang of homegrown terrorists who plan to destroy the country.

Jackie: This is the kind of mystery I love to read, feisty old ladies doing just as they please. (Old ladies and cats always do as they please!) And surprisingly enough, those of us who have reached a certain age, actually do have a few special perceptions. J
Next Question: Do you have any work in progress? We’d love to hear all about your upcoming plans.

Jean: I’m currently working on three novels: the fourth in my Logan & Cafferty mystery series, titled Murder Magnets; my second children’s novel, The Ghost of Crimson Dawn, and No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy, an historical western.

Jackie: I’ll be looking forward to those books, too.
Question: Have you always wanted to be a writer, or did you just sort of stumble into this occupation?

Jean: I wrote my first novel when I was nine, so I guess you could say I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve written and published 14 books, both novels and nonfiction.

Jackie: Very impressive! You seem to have writing in your blood.
Question: Sounds as if you spend most of your time writing; do you have any hobbies?

Jean: Reading, photography, travel, art, social networking, playing with my dog, and four wheel riding with my husband.

Jackie: Could it be possible that some those fun things might blend in well with your writing? Perhaps incorporating some of them into your research?

Jean: I drove my 36 ft. motorhome along I-40 in northern Arizona, the route taken by my two protagonists, in the rain while listening to truckers talk on their CB radios. I also contacted a chemical engineer about sulfuric acid spills, which the terrorists use in my novel. And I researched Phoenix, the kidnap capital of the nation where an average five murders are committed every week. My Murderous Musings blog team mate, Ben Small, who lives near Tucson, provided me with information about the terrorists who are coming across the border with Mexican nationals. And I watched the hidden camera shots of them sneaking in with drugs and weapons on an internet site. Pretty scary stuff. I also lived in Arizona during the 1990s.

Jackie: Exciting stuff. I expect you spend a lot of time thinking about your stories. Do you ever find yourself zoning into the world you have created when you’re supposed to be listening to something else such as church services, friends talking, or during a class of some sort?

Jean: I’m often in la la land with my characters, listening to them and planning what’s going to happen next.

Jackie: Have you ever found yourself growing too fond of a villain? If so, does this affect your story?

Jean: Actually, I did once while writing my first historical novel, Escape on the Wind. One of the outlaws, Tom “Peep” O’Day, was such a bungling horsethief that he endeared himself to me and was fun to write about. He wasn’t mean spirited in real life, as some of his cohorts were, and the only thing he did right was to train and communicate with horses. He had a lot of horse sense. J

Jackie: Now that you’ve segued into speaking of animals, do you have a pet? If so, we’d love to hear about this special relationship.

Jean: I have a beautiful Australian Shepherd named Mariah, who is so loving and crazy that I wrote about her in my children’s novel, Mystery of Spider Mountain. Mariah looks like a fantasy wolf and we had to buy her a wide orange collar because the legislature passed a law that wolves can be shot on sight by anyone with a gun. So we’re very protective of her here on the ranch.

Jackie: Mariah sounds lovely, and we'll all keep our fingers crossed for her safety.
Question: If you could travel anywhere in the world to research a book, and if someone else pays expenses, where would you pick?

Jean: Italy, Scotland and Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Fiji, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and Australia for starters. I enjoy travel.

Jean Henry Mead


Jackie: Are you ever troubled by the infamous “writer’s block?”

Jean: My first job while in college was as a cub reporter for the local daily newspaper, so I’ve been trained to write on demand. You research your subject, sit down and start writing. You don’t stare at the screen and wonder where to start or how much longer to continue, you just automatically write. And, if you’re lucky, you have time to briefly polish your piece before you go on to the next story. So writing fiction for me is usually automatic, not unlike breathing. My quota of words for the day is 1,500 and I rarely write less, but I enjoy the act of writing and am fortunate that I was born to write.

Jackie: Sounds as if you’re a very disciplined writer. And I love it that you say that you were born to write. I just attended a writer’s conference where Steve Berry spoke. His theory is that writers have a voice in their head telling them they must write. That is true of me, and it’s interesting to know that you listen to your own voice. Humm….What’s with us writers, anyway? For sure, we’re different.

It’s been wonderful chatting with you Jean. Thanks for your time.

Readers, Jean’s blog is Mysterious Writers.

Her website:

Readers: If you have questions or comments for Jean, post away!

Hugs,

Jackie

30 comments:

Jackie King said...

Jean, Thanks so much for sharing your life and writing career with my readers and me.

MURDER ON THE INTERSTATE is on the top of my TBR pile.
Jackie

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Jackie. You're an excellent inteviewer!

Beth Anderson said...

Fifteen hundred words a day, every day! Well, that's the way to do it, for sure. I need to download Murder on the Interstate, it sounds like fun! Great interview, Jean and Jackie!

4RV Publishing said...

Jackie, thanks for bringing Jean to us this week.

Jean, I never tire of learning more about you and about your books.

Vivian

Jackie King said...

I agree, Beth. 1500 words is a wonderful accomplishment. Could we have a little cyber applause for Jean? :-)
Jackie

Jackie King said...

Vivian, It was my great pleasure to host Jean. She's such an interesting woman.
Thanks for stopping by.
Jackie

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, gals, for the kind words. It's easy to write 1,500 words or 5 pages a day when you have a journalism background and love writing fiction. I especially enjoy spooning in research into my books.

Jackie King said...

Oh, Jean. You lucky woman! I've ALWAYS thought that writing was hard work...sort of like walking through almost-set-concrete up to your neck. (Except for those rare times when the prose seems to just fly out of the tips of my fingers and onto the keyboard.)

I've said this about writing before, and don't want to discourage any newbies. Keep at your craft--the hard work is worth the joy that writing gives.
Jackie

Jean Henry Mead said...

I agree, Jackie. I've been writing professionally for many years and it wasn't always easy. My first novel took nearly ten years of research and writing before it was published. Persistence is the most important aspect of writing. More important than talent. Never give up if it's in you to write.

marja said...

Jean, Lovely interview. I learn more about you all the time, which is nice because I enjoy your writing. Just from the way you describe your characters, a reader can see that you make them come alive.

Marja

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thak you, Marja. I can certainly say the same about you and your work.

J D Webb said...

Great interview, Jean. I love your comment about spooning in research. I fail to get 1500 words a day because of my proclivity for research.

Helen Ginger said...

Jean always has such interesting things to say. Thanks for the interview.

Clearly, you are very organized, Jean. How do you balance your writing with all the other things that need to be done, including house, research, family, relaxation, reading and so on?

Jackie King said...

Hi J.D., Thanks for stopping by. Isn't Jean great?

So you're a research buff? That always makes any book more interesting. I can't write 1,500 words a day because I a slowpoke. :-)
Best,
Jackie

Jackie King said...

Helen, What a great question! I want to know the answer to that, too. Thanks for stopping by.
Jackie

Anne K. Albert said...

The similarities between authors is as fascinating as our differences. Daily word count, voices in our head, oh my! Fun stuff, and another great Murder We Write Blog Tour interview.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I enjoyed the interview very much, especially the comments about women of a certain age. Yes, we definitely start seeing things differently and doing what we want. On 1500 words a day, yes, that's my goal too. I try to emphasize to beginning writers I meet that writing is work, and 1500 words a day isn't all that much if you're serious. It may be painful sometimes, but it's a good goal.

Thanks for sharing so much of your story.

Jackie King said...

Anne, So glad to get your opinion. VOICES IN OUR HEADS! Ain't it the truth? When I was a kid, I thought that everyone had that voice in their head...that running inner dialogue I carried on with an invisible someone. I didn't know then that I was speaking to READERS!
Hugs,
Jackie

Jackie King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackie King said...

Susan, Congratulations on your excellent goal of 1,500 words a day! Very impressive. I so agree that we writers can't let our lazybone take over, that could cause our careers to disappear!
Best,
Jackie

Jackie King said...

My MYSTERY WE WRITE BLOG TOUR article for week 3, Writing Through the Muck, can be found on Beth Anderson's site:

http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com/blog/

Jackie

Radine Trees Nehring said...

Hi Jackie and Jean,
Guess my first comment disappeared into the cloud!

Loved reading this interview, which, for me, enhanced the importance of research, not only for accuracy in a story, but for the author's inspiration!

Congratulations on creating a wonderful pair of "sleuths" and the "adventures" they have.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Helen, I gave up TV. I also go to the computer early each morning in my p.j.s with a bowl of cereal in one hand. A cup of chai tea topped with whipped cream later in the morning really wakes me up. Fortunately, I write fast and try to keep up with the dialogue going on in my head. :) (I hope there are no psychiatrists reading this.)

Jackie King said...

Radine, Thanks so much for dropping by. Your opinion counts a lot with me, and I know that it will with Jean, too.
Hugs,
Jackie

Jackie King said...

Jean, Loved hearing about your work habits. I work in my jammies, too, often well into the day. Once I even ran to the grocery store wearing this special "writer's" uniform. I reminded myself that old gals are invisible. This comes in very handy sometimes!
Best,
Jackie

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, J.D., Susan and Anne for stopping by and your kind comments. I think we all agree that research is all important, no matter the genre or theme of one's book.

Radine, I'm happy that you stopped by. Thanks for the kind words. And thank you, Jackie, for hosting me during the Mystery We Write tour.

Jackie King said...

Jean, Hosting you was a pure delight!
Best,
Jackie

Mary Martinez said...

Jean, if someone is paying the expenses to the places to research? I'm going with you, is that okay? I love to travel.

Great interview ladies, thanks for sharing.

Jackie King said...

Mary,
Our Jean did pick out some exciting places to research, didn't she?
Best,
Jackie

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Mary and Jackie. You'e welcome to come along any time. :)