Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mystery Author of the Month, Jean Henry Mead



Jean Henry Mead 
Jean Henry Mead is a national award-winning photojournalist as well as a mystery, Wyoming historical and children’s novelist. Many of her 19 books have occupied various Amazon bestseller lists and she has served as a news, magazine and small press editor. She’s currently working on the fifth Logan & Cafferty mystery, A Murder in Paradise, due out this fall. Her website is www.JeanHenryMead.com
Patricia: Jean, please tell us, where did you grow up and did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?
Jean: I was born in Hollywood, California and spent my formative years on Cameford Avenue, a block and a half from Paramount Studios. I remember sitting on the front porch with my mother and waving at the movie stars who drove by in their limos. I’m not sure whether that influenced me to become a writer, but I did write stories from a young age. My first book was written at age nine—a chapter a day to entertain classmates. Years later I interviewed actors and screen writers for several of my interview books.
Patricia: Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels?
Jean: We have a small ranch in Wyoming’s Laramie Mountains at 7,000 feet. It’s beautiful during the spring, summer and fall, but cold (and pristine) during the winters. I’ve set two of my Logan and Cafferty mysteries in Wyoming, one of them here in the Laramies (Gray Wolf Mountain) as well as one of my Hamilton Kids’ mysteries (Ghost of Crimson Dawn).
Patricia: What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
Jean: Because I started my writing career as a news reporter, I wrote five nonfiction books before I attempted my first novel. I spent two years behind a microfilm machine during the 1980s researching a centennial history book of central Wyoming (Casper Country: Wyoming’s Heartland), which became a college textbook. During my research I came across newspaper articles about a young couple who had been hanged by cattlemen who claimed they had been running a rural brothel and accepting stolen cattle as payment for their services. However, another article said that they were respectable people, the husband appointed by the governor as justice of the peace and postmaster of Sweetwater Valley. I spent over 25 years attempting to research the story that was reported around the world in 1889. Fortunately, George Hufsmith was commissioned to write an opera about the murders and spent the next 20 years interviewing people in the area who knew the truth. When his nonfiction book was published I finally had the missing puzzle pieces to begin writing my historical mystery-suspense novel, No Escape, the Sweetwater Tragedy.
 I also researched single woman homesteaders of that era—some 200,000 of them—and created a composite, Susan Cameron, a young Missouri woman seeking independence and the right to vote and hold office well before the rest of the nation. I didn’t want to end the book with the murders so Susan experiences the aftermath of the story when her new friends, Ellen and James Averell are killed. Ellen, by the way, was known as “Cattle Kate,” and movies, books, songs and poetry have depicted the innocent young woman as a rustler and prostitute.
Patricia: When did you “know” that you wanted to be a writer?
Jean: When I was in elementary school. I dabbled in both writing and art and was placed in a special class, skipping the fifth grade, to work on advanced projects. That helped my creative talents immeasurably.
Patricia: Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery/suspense genre. What makes them your favorites?
Jean: I learned to write fiction by studying the books of Dean Koontz. I like the way he strings his words together although I didn’t really didn’t care for his horror novels. Agatha Christie lured me into the mystery genre, where I stayed, also reading all of the alphabet series written by Sue Grafton. I’ve read many other mysteries written by a variety of authors, but Koontz, Christie and Grafton remain my favorites.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=jean+henry+mead&sprefix=jean+henry+mead%2Cstripbooks%2C334


 

Jean is giving away a paper copy of No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy to someone who leaves a comment on this post.

22 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting me on your blog site, Pat. It's a pleasure to visit you here.

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    1. Thanks for being my guest this week, Jean!

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  2. Great post, Jean. You make Wyoming sound as fascinating as it is beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, John. That means a lot coming from you. And yes, Wyoming has some beautful areas you should visit.

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  3. Really well done. You do any fly fishing in Wyoming? I'm going to look into your novels :-)

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    1. Thank you, C.L. I haven't had time to fly fish for some time. Writing keeps me busy. I hope you enjoy reading my novels. They were fun to write.

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  4. Your research paid off because the Sweetwater book was terrific. But, then, I enjoy your mysteries, too. Great interview!
    Marja McGraw

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    1. Thank you, Marja. I enjoy your books as well.

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  5. Nice interview; very informative regarding Wyoming. As a New Englander who's not seen much of the west, I like to read about that (big!) part of the country. And by the way, my sister in law has worked for Paramount for 25 years. I'm sending her your comments about watching the movie stars. As a kid--and even now--I would have loved that!! Best to you and keep on keeping on. Sharon Love Cook

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. Wyoming is a big state. It's ninth in size. I enjoyed living on the east coast during my youth and regret that I missed New Englad during my travels in 44 states. I understand that it's especially beautiful during the fall.

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  6. Jean,

    You have such an interesting background--Hollywood and Wyoming. Great places to set mystery novels in.

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    1. Thank you, Jadqueline. I much prefer Wyoming, which has a wealth of historical events to write about.

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  7. Great interview, Patricia and Jean.
    Jean, the setting of your books is especially appealing to me, who's always lived in the East.

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  8. Thanks, Marilyn. You must visit Wyoming sometime, espcially Yellowstone park and the Black Hills. They're absolutely breathtaking.

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  9. May your career soar far above the Rockies!

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    1. What a lovely thought! Thank you, Mavmin.

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  10. Thanks for sharing the interview, ladies, well done! Very timely also since my husband is getting me hooked on reading mysteries and looking for new authors to try. Although you certainly aren't a new author, Jean, my interest in the genre has newly grown. May have to get out to Wyoming sometime to see that part of the country!

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  11. Welcome to the genre, Connie. There are so many good mystery novels out there to read. Enjoy! I hope you do get a chance to visit Wyoming.

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  12. Hi Jean, I know you've worked long and hard on this particular book. Nice to see it come to fruition. Toady, we have a new member at WWW, Karen Dickinson, and she is writing of Wyoming.

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  13. I'm glad you stopped by, Arletta. I'm also glad to hear that Keren has joined WWW and is writing of Wyoming. There's a wealth of history here to write about.

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  14. Hi Jean,
    I came across your site rather by accident, but I'm looking forward to reading your book very much! I'm a historian of the American West, and I live in Laramie. I love me a good novel, especially when it's set in our beautiful state! Please keep writing these!
    Cheers,
    Julia

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  15. Thank you, Julie. How nice to meet someone from Laramie online. I've only wriiten one other historical, Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, and plan to write a novel about the Johnson County War next. Lots of research.

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