Monday, March 26, 2012

Mitch Malone Mondays: Jean Henry Mead

Today I'm pleased to host Jean Henry Mead, the editor of The Mystery Writers book, which features 60 authors telling secrets of writing several subgenres of mystery. I believe W. S. Gager submitted something as well but I don't want to dwell on her submissions. There are others who have a lot more to say so let’s get right to the dirt. Jean, how did you get the idea to do such a book?

I’ve been conducting interviews for many years as a news reporter, freelance photojournalist and a blogger. The interviews originated on my blog site, Mysterious Writers and my first book of mystery writer interviews was published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2010. I’ve accumulated quite a few  since then and didn’t want them to evaporate into Cyberspace.

Sometimes my sources don't want to give up the dirt. Did you have any problems getting those big names like Sue Grafton, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Lawrence Block and those other best-selling writers to give you their expertise?

I was very lucky to interview Elmore Leonard some thirty years ago, just as he was becoming famous and we both belonged to the same writer’s group. So my interview with him opened doors that were previously locked. Whenever I asked bestselling writers for an interview, I mentioned my previous one with “Dutch” Leonard. I guess they thought if he allowed me to interview him, I must be okay.

Even though W.S. Gager is in the book, please give an honest answer. This book has sixty authors. What is the most unique idea and who submitted it?

You want to get me in trouble, don’t you, Mitch? Each author is unique in his or her own way. I was shocked by my interview with Roger Smith, a former South African filmmaker and screenwriter who now writes noir novels from his native Africa. The brutality he writes about, the corruption and abuse of women and children shock readers and cause them to appreciate their lives in the U.S. There are quite a few other writers who live and write from foreign countries (in the book), including Thailand, Brazil, England, Canada and Africa as well as interesting writers here in the U.S.— like W. S. Gager.

 How did you ever manager to pull this together and give it some order?

It wasn’t easy. I happened across the writers originally on the Internet and they were all receptive to interviews. I’m glad they were because each one has a different perspective on the craft of writing, marketing and characterization. I thoroughly enjoyed our interview, as I have with writers in this country.

It took several months to get in touch with each writer and have them update their interviews. I then asked them to write an article for the book and placed each writer in an appropriate chapter representing their particular subgenre. I’ve never worked so hard on a book as this one, which is my 17th, but it was well worth the effort. I’m very proud of the book, although I’m just the gatherer and editor.
Thanks, Jean, for joining me today. This is one book that every mystery writer should have on their reference shelf. To get your copy go here:

Jean Henry Mead has published 16 books, half of them mystery/suspense and historical novels. She also writes the Hamilton Kids’ mysteries and is an award-winning photojournalist.


  1. Thanks for the invitation, Wendy. I enjoyed being interviewed by Mitch Malone, interpid, Pulitizer Prize-wining fictional journalist. It doesn't get much better than that. :)

  2. Thanks Jean. Glad you liked Mitch. You either love him or hate him! Congrats on the great book!

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  4. Sounds like an interesting collection and one well worth checking out.

  5. Rudy: Thanks for stopping by.

    Tess: Glad you are checking it out.

    Thanks both of you!

  6. Thanks, Tess. I hope you enjoy the book and learn something new about writing. I certainly did. I wish a book like THE MYSTERY WRITERS had been available when I was learning to write fiction.