Mary: Do you like to write series? Or single titles only?
Jean: I enjoy writing series novels because my relationship with my characters deepens with each book. My Logan & Cafferty series features two 60-year-old feisty woman amateur sleuths who are like old friends that I visist each day. Dana Logan is a widowed mystery novel buff and retired school teacher and her friend, Sarah Cafferty, is a private investigator’s widow. In A Village Shattered, they meet in a central California retirement village where their friends are murdered alphabetically. They then help the newbie sheriff solve the murders amid the San Joaquin Valley fog. In the following two books, Diary of Murder and Murder on the Interstate, they sell their houses and buy a motorhome to travel the West. In Diary, Dana’s sister is murdered and she inherits her mansion in Wyoming, which becomes their home base. In Murder on the Interstate, they discover the body of a young woman in her Mercedes convertible and are kidnapped during their investigation in Arizona by homegrown terrorists.
2. Where did you grow up? And how did that inspire your writing?
Jean: I was born in Hollywood, California, a block and a half from Paramount Studios and attended Vine Street Elementary School. My dad was transferred to East Los Angeles, and we lived at the foot of a huge hill, which my four younger brothers and I explored. That inspired my Hamilton Kids’ mystery series, although my publisher suggested that I cut the number of brothers to two. Mystery of Spider Mountain was inspired by the dark mysterious house that sat at the hill’s summit, surrounded by huge trees. The second novel in the series, which I began last year, Ghost of Crimson Dawn, is set here on our ranch in the Laramie Mountains at 7,000 feet as well as the annual Summer Solstice Festival, which takes place on Casper Mountain every June 21, featuring people dressed as witches, warlocks, and other Halloween-like characters. The ghost is the woman who established the festival on her mountaintop during the 1950s, and is said to haunt the area.
3. How do you research for your books?
Jean: Some of my research comes from driving a motorhome around the West, listening to truckers on a CB radio for Murder on the Interstate. I’ve also lived in nine states, including the East and West coasts and most of the western states. I set my novels in areas where I’ve either lived or visited and augment memories with MapQuest for details of the terrain. I also do a lot of reading and research online, such as the Wikipedia, which a librarian said is as accurate as the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Have you written your entire life? Not as in wanting to write, but actually pursued a writing career.
Jean: I wrote my first novel at age nine, a chapter a day to read to my classmates. My first paid writing was while I was editor-in-chief of my college newspaper and working 35 hours a week as a “cub” reporter for my hometown daily newspaper. I was a 27-year-old divorced mother of four young daughters at the time. I then freelanced for the Denver Post and other newspapers and magazines, served as a news editor and border patrol reporter in San Diego, editor of In Wyoming Magazine and editor of two small presses. I‘ve since had ten publishers and 17 book in print, half of them novels.
4. What is your work in progress? And when do you plan to have it done?
Jean: I’m currently working on two novels, an historical western mystery: No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy and my fourth Logan & Cafferty novel, Murder on Gray Wolf Mountain, a contemporary western mystery set here in the Laramie Mountain range. I also have another Hamilton Kids’ mystery in the works, yet untitled. I hope to finish all three within the year.
5. What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Jean: Until recently I wouldn’t have considered self-publishing because of the stigma previously attached, but last year one of my publishers died and the business went into probate, leaving 38 writers, myself included, with orphaned books and owed a year’s royalties. I decided to take the plunge to place most of my out-of-print books online and I’m glad I did. We have ten of them on Amazon and Barnes and Noble so far, including print editions as well as ebooks. I like having control over book cover design, scheduling and formatting.
6. Tell us about your recent release.
Jean: The Mystery Writers is my fifth book of interviews and second book of mystery writers. This one features writers such as Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J. A. Jance, James Scott Bell (former Writers Digest fiction columnist), Julie Garwood and 55 other novelists, many of them bestsellers and award winners. There are also 58 good articles about writing in general written by them. I only asked the questions and edited the book but I’m very proud of the collection.
Bio: Jean Henry Mead is a national award-winning photojournalist as well as a novelist of mystery-suspense, children’s mysteries and historicals. Her articles have been published in national magazines as well as abroad. Her website: www.jeanhenrymead.com.
Thank you for hosting my blog tour. I'll be giving away a print copy of The Mystery Writers as well as an ebook copy at the conclusion of the tour in a drawing from among visitors who leave comments at my blog sites.
Thank you, Jean, for visiting my garden today!