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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Special Interview with Jean Henry Mead

Today we have as our guest fellow western author and journalist Jean Henry Mead, author of No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy.





1. Tell us a little about your new book No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy.

It’s the true story of Ellen “Ella” Watson Averell, who was hanged with her husband James by cattlemen who want their homestead land. After her death, cattlemen call her “Cattle Kate” and spread lies about the couple, accusing them of running a bawdy house and accepting rustled cattle. I didn’t want to end the book with the hangings, so I created a single woman homesteader from a composite of some 200,000 actual women homesteaders. Susan Cameron files on land next to the Averells and in Albert Bothwell’s former hay meadow, thus placing her own life in danger. Veterinarian Michael O’Brien provides the love interest, although Susan pushes him away because she came to Wyoming for freedom and independence.




2. How did you get interested in The Sweetwater Tragedy.  What kind of research did you do for the book?

I was researching a centennial history of Wyoming by reading old microfilmed newspapers when I read about the tragedy, and researched the story on an off over the years while writing other books. Then, George W. Hufsmith’s nonfiction book was published after 20 years of intensive research, and I was able to fill in the missing puzzle pieces.

3. Have you always written fiction?  If not, at what point did you start?

I began my writing career as a news reporter so my first five books were nonfiction, although I really wanted to write novels. During the 1990s I finally sat down and began writing  Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, which features Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. I researched that book for years before it was first published in 1999. It’s been published by three publishers and is still my best selling book.

4. Has your background as a journalist and working with nonfiction been of help to you on writing your mystery and historical novels?

Definitely. Journalists have to sit down and write. There’s no such thing as writer’s block and journalism also teaches brevity, without unnecessary words or flowery phrases. Sometimes that means not enough description, but plots written by journalists are usually fast-paced and page turners.

 5. Your Logan and Cafferty books are fun to read. Were they fun to write? How did you come up with the idea for this series?
  
 Thank you. Writing dialogue is fun and I subconsciously wrote my first two books in the series without realizing that I was basing my protagonists’ relationship on my own long term friendship with Marge, whom I’ve known for forty years.

6. How do decide where to set your novels?

I set my novels in places where I’ve been, lived and driven a motorhome, including through a Rocky Mountain snowstorm, which starts my second novel.

7. How you go about the process of writing, do you plot or create as you go along?

I don’t plot. I sit down at the computer and read the previous chapter, which carries me forward into the next one. I then just listen to my characters and type as fast as I can to keep up with their conversations.

8. Do you have a set writing schedule?

I’m usually at the computer by 8 a.m. and write until I have completed five pages. That can take between 4-8 hours.

9.  What are your favorite authors, or what authors have inspired you to write?

Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple mysteries introduced me to the mystery genre. I then read Sue Grafton and a number of others. But it was Dean R. Koontz who taught me to write fiction. I read and reread his style and how he strung his words together.

10. What is your advice to novelists today in light of the present publishing scene?

Don’t send your work out too soon. When you write the end to your manuscript, place it in a drawer or on a shelf for at least two weeks before you take it out and read it as though someone else has written it. Edit and polish until it’s the best you’re capable of writing.

Thank you for inviting to your blog site.

No Escape, the Sweetwater Tragedy can be viewed at: http://www.amazon.com/No-Escape-Sweetwater-Tragedy-ebook/dp/B00BSG9F1U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363061784&sr=8-1&keywords=No+Escape%2C+the+sweetwater. You can read the first two chapters on Amazon.com. The book is available on Kindle and will soon be available in print.


















3 comments:

  1. Great interview! I enjoy your books so much, and I enjoy nonfiction, too, so I know I'll like your new book.
    Marja McGraw

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Marja. No Escape, the Swwetwater Tragedy is a combination of both fiction and nonfiction because it's based on an actual historical event. I think the genre is faction.

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