Mary: It sounds like you’ve lived a very diverse writing life. Could you tell everyone a bit about your background, how you started, etc.
Jean: My first writing job was as a news reporter for my hometown daily newspaper while I was a college student serving as editor-in-chief of my campus paper. I was also, at that time, the divorced mother of four young daughters. I worked 35 hours a week at the newspaper and drove 25 miles to the next town to attend classes, carrying 15 credit hours each semester. It makes tired just thinking about it. I remarried and we moved to San Diego where I served as a staff writer, photographer and editor. We then moved again to my husband’s home state of Wyoming where I worked for the statewide newspaper and was later editor of In Wyoming Magazine. I also freelanced for various magazines, domestic and abroad, including the Denver Post.
Mary: What were you like growing up? Before the novelist, journalist or photojournalist? And what inspired you to go in the direction you have?
Jean: I was a shy child with four younger brothers in a neighborhood with no other girls. So I was a tom boy who liked to read. I’d walk three miles every Saturday to a library in Los Angeles and return home with an armload of books, both fiction and nonfiction. I also liked to sing and I played the violin badly in orchestra, but was chosen as the soprano to represent my high school in the Los Angeles All-City Choir. I also wrote my first novel when I was nine but didn’t write another until many years later after I had published five nonfiction books.
Mary: In your bio, it states you were in San Diego for a while. I love San Diego. Please tell us a bit about the city. What your favorite restaurants were and what you did for relaxation. Did the city inspire any of your books?
Jean: I also love San Diego, but I lived there during the late 1970s and can’t remember the names of any restaurants. We had five children at home at the time and I don’t think we could afford to go anywhere but McDonalds and other fast food restaurants. My husband was in the navy and my news reporting job didn’t earn much over $400 a month. I wasn’t writing books at that time, so the beautiful city didn’t inspire anything but awe.
Mary: There’s more appetizers and drinks if anyone would like some more, help yourself. Jean, when writing, if you come to a scene and your mind goes completely blank—as in stumped what to do next—what do you do to bring the characters back and focus on your writing?
Jean: Journalism teaches writers to sit down and begin writing. You can’t keep your job by staring at the screen, so that has carried over into my novel writing. I always have more than one project going at the same time, so if the characters in one book decide to go on strike, I go to another. I currently have three projects under construction: an historical Western, a children’s mystery and the fourth novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series.
Mary: You’ve had a wonderful career, I’m sure you have some advice for the newbie writer. What is it?
Jean: Persistent is more important than talent in this business. If you really want to become a published author (with a traditional publisher), you have to have patience, tough skin and learn from rejections. Also important is submitting your best work. Put it aside when you consider it finished, and take it out a month later to read as though someone else had written it. Then edit and polish again. If you can afford a freelance editor, by all means hire one. There’s less than stellar work flooding the market by self-publishers, which can ruin a fledgling writer’s reputation. So always make sure it’s the best you can produce. My first novel took ten years to research, write and publish and it’s still my best selling book and has sold three times. Several others were written quickly and haven’t sold nearly as well, so I know from experience that editing and polishing contribute to a good reputation.
Mary: What is your current release? Can you share with us a blurb and where to buy?
Jean: Murder on the Interstate is the third novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series. I think the blurb written by Carolyn Hart sums it up pretty well:
“Careen into crime with two intrepid sleuths who outwit terrorists in a fast-paced plot taken from today's headlines. A page turner.”
Murder on the Interstate is available at Amazon.com and other online outlets in print, Kindle, Nook and ebook and can be ordered from bookstores.
Barnes and Noble Print
View Trailer here.
Mary: Great trailer, thanks for sharing. Last, is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to share?
Jean: I like to add humor and light romance to my novels, and aim to entertain as well as inform. My novels—as well as my nonfiction books— are heavily researched and based on relevant facts.
Mary: Thank you, Jean, for visiting with us today. I hope you have had a great time.
Jean: I had a wonderful time and I love your garden. Thanks for inviting me.