“There’s more than one way to roast a skunk.” Down-home wisdom from J.H. Mead
Jean Henry Mead is a national award-winning photojournalist as well as a mystery and historical novelist. Her articles have been published domestically as well as abroad and she has served as a news, magazine and small press editor in San Diego and Wyoming. Her 17 books include three Logan & Cafferty mystery-suspense novels: A Village Shattered, Diary of Murder and Murder on the Interstate; two children’s mysteries in the Hamilton Kid’s series: Mystery of Spider Mountain and Ghost of Crimson Dawn; two western historicals, and a variety of nonfiction books that include five books of interviews with writers, actors, Hollywood screenwriters, politicians, artists and ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. Her website: www.jeanhenrymead.com
1. Of which of your books are you the proudest? Why?
That’s like choosing from among my children. I’m proud of each book for different reasons. I’m most proud of my latest book and I didn’t even write it. I edited The Mystery Writers, a collection of interviews and articles about the craft of writing from authors I interviewed for my Mysterious Writers blog. They include Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J. A. Jance, James Scott Bell, Vicki Hinze, Julie Garwood and 55 other mystery writers, many of them bestsellers and award-winners. The book encompasses twelve mystery subgenres, and the advice these novelists offer is excellent. (I learned a few things from them, myself, although I’ve been writing professionally for many years.) They also talk about their struggles along the path to publication, how they acquired agents, overcame rejections, their eventual successes and other subjects of interest to fledgling as well as veteran writers.
2. What are the best and worst pieces of advice about your writing career that you have been given?
Don’t send your manuscript out before it’s the best you can offer, because you only get one chance to make a first impression. Also, when you think it‘s finished, place your masterpiece in a drawer for a month before you take it out and read it as though someone else had written it. Edit and polish again until it shines. The worst advice was not to write western historicals because they weren’t selling. They’ve been my best selling books to date.
3. If you had the time and means to write one book more than any other, what book would it be?
I’ve been researching an historical mystery novel for more than 20 years concerning the true story of an innocent young woman and her husband who were hanged in Wyoming Territory, in 1889. I’ve traveled to the scene of the crime countless times because I live within a hundred miles and pass the area whenever we travel to Salt Lake City or the West Coast. I read about the hangings while researching another historical book, and was determined to write about it. But researching it further was difficult until George Huffsmith wrote a nonfiction book about the crime after 20 years of extensive research. I’m currently halfway through the first draft.
4. If you had another career before or during writing, how do you think it affected your work? If you could go back and pursue a different career, what would you choose?
I began my writing career as a news reporter in California. I much prefer writing fiction but journalism taught me brevity, which is probably why my novels have been called: “Fun and fast-paced.” I wouldn’t choose any career over writing, although I might have become a photographer, artist, interior decorator or anthropologist.
4. Name one or two authors nearly all of whose books you have read? Why are these people favourites of yours?
My own novels are probably closest to those of my favorites, Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway and Carolyn Hart, both in content and themes. I write in several genres.
5. If you could spend a day and evening with dinner with one of your characters, which would you choose and what would you do or talk about together?
I have two protagonists, Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, two 60-year-old feisty, amateur sleuths whom I would love to spend some time with to talk and laugh about everything under the sun. They’ve shared many of my own experiences of driving a motorhome around the West, although I’ve haven’t discovered any dead bodies to investigate, as they have.
Writing sample from my first mystery, A Village Shattered:
From her bedroom window, Nola noticed lights in Pat Wilson’s house and decided to pay him another visit. She wouldn’t allow him to toss her away like one of his chewed cigars. Pat wasn’t the nicest or handsomest man she’d ever known, but Nola was used to second best. At sixty-one, when most women were complacent with their lot, she was attempting to bag a second husband. Her meager savings needed a transfusion, but she was too battle-scarred to return to school bus driving.
When she rang his bell, Pat took a long time answering. Grumbling, he blinded her with the porch light.
“Turn it off,” she whispered. “We don’t want the neighbors knowing I’m here.”
“Blast the damn neighbors. Party poops are probably all asleep.”
When he didn’t invite her in, she nudged the door he was partially holding open. “Aren’t you going to invite—? “
“No, an old friend’s here. This ain’t a good time to visit.”
Nola ducked beneath his arm, getting far enough into the room to glimpse a pair of black shapely stockings. Pat grabbed her and deposited her back on the porch .
She heard the lock click as well as several deadbolts. Enraged, Nola scooped a handful of rocks from the flower bed. Resisting the urge to hurl them through the draped window, she clamped down hard on her dentures. “There’s more than one way to roast a skunk.”
A Village Shattered is a free Kindle download today: http://www.amazon.com/Village-Shattered-Cafferty-Suspense-ebook/dp/B005I...
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. Please email me DIRECTLY to enter at Seniorsleuth@aol.com