Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview with Jean Henry Mead

by Jackie King

Jean Henry Mead, author of both fiction and nonfiction books, says that featuring other writers on her blogs is one of her greatest pleasures. Five of Mead’s 17 books are collections of her interviews. The latest, The Mystery Writers: Interviews and Advice, is a collection of different postings that originated at her Mysterious Writers blog site. “They were so informative that I didn’t want them to disappear into cyber space after their initial appearances,” Mead says.
Jean Henry Mead
Following the example of Agatha Christie, the mystery writer icon who recycled her 20th century short stories into novels; Jean Henry Mead is recycling her 21st century interviews into anthologies.
I was most interested in how such books evolved, so I asked Jean if she would answer a few questions. Much to my delight, she agreed:

JK: Jean, would you tell us how you first came up with the clever and interesting idea of interviewing celebrities and then publishing these pieces in an anthology?

JHM: I began my career as a news reporter, so the first book I wrote—and published in 1982—was a collection of interviews with well-known Wyoming residents, such as Dick Cheney, country singer Chris LeDoux, U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, attorney Gerry Spence, some governors, artists and other interesting people. The Mystery Writers is my fifth book of interviews.

 JK: How do you set up interviews with such famous mystery writers as Sue Grafton, J.A. Jance and Lawrence Block, who are included in your newly published, The Mystery Writers: Interviews and Advice.

JHM: I was fortunate to interview Elmore Leonard before he became so famous. (We were both members of Western Writers of America at that time.) So when I emailed other bestselling authors for interviews, I mentioned Elmore Leonard, which probably gave me some credibility. I think the fact that I was also a member of Mystery Writers of America helped as well.

JK: What was the hardest part of compiling and editing so many articles and interviews?

JHM: Compiling all those interviews was very time consuming and took me away from working on my novels. I had to send out sixty manuscripts for updates, ask each author to write a short piece on the craft of writing, and then, when everything started coming back, I felt as though I were at the bottom of an avalanche. But it all worked out eventually at 406 pages.

JK: Do you plan to do another volume of this series in the future?

JHM: I don’t plan another. The Mystery Writers is the second volume of mystery writer interviews I’ve done. The first, Mysterious Writers, was published in 2010 by Poisoned Pen Press in ebook format and is still available. I wanted to also publish a print edition, which I did with the second volume. I hope the interviews and advice are valuable tools for fledgling writers.

 JK: My final question has to be: who were your favorite mystery writer interviewees?

JHM: Carolyn Hart, Jeffrey Deaver, Lawrence Block, J.A. Jance, Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, Vickie Hinze and James Scott Bell, to name just a few. They were all great interviewees and I wish I’d had access to their advice, writing successes and failures, when I first began writing fiction.

JK: The entire volume has been a help to me. Like all writers, I’m forever striving to improve my skills. It’s a book I’ll keep and reread from time to time.

Thanks a million for your time and patience in answering my questions. I think your wisdom will help my readers.

Readers, Jean’s blog is Mysterious Writers.

Her website:


Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Jackie, for tuaning the tables on me with this interview. I hope everyone will check out The MYSTERY WRITERS. It has a lot of great writing advice from some of the best writers.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jackie!

I loved the interview with Jean Henry Mead! A terrific job! What an inspiration and a giving author who assists us struggling writers to be the best we can be! I'm going to pick up both books. Call me a human sponge when it comes to soaking up as much knowledge as possible! :-)


Jackie King said...

Jean, I was honored to be allowed to interview the interviewer. I do so love this book and am honored to be included amount it's authors.

Jackie King said...

Kat, What a darling you are! Thanks so very much for your kind words. And, most of all, thanks for catching my faulty typing and letting me correct it.

You're very wise to become a sponge. I'm one, too. Writer's never quit learning. That's one reason it's such a fascinating occupation.

Jaden Terrell said...

Jackie, thank you for interviewing Jean. She's always so generous with her time and herself, it's good to see her in the spotlight.

Jackie King said...

Hi Jaden, I agree, Jean Henry Mead ROCKS! Thanks for stopping by.