Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Author Jean Henry Mead

Jean Henry Mead , like us, writes mysteries for adults. But she also writes mysteries for kids, western historical novels and nonfiction. And one of the latter, a history of Wyoming, became a college textbook. She's been a reporter, a magazine and press editor, a correspondent for the Denver Post, and has won national awards for her photojournalism. 

This book, hot off the press, is her latest project - and here's Jean to tell you all about it:

When I began collecting interviews for the book I titled The Mystery Writers, I had no idea that such informative and disturbing articles would be coming my way. By disturbing, I’m referring primarily to my interview with Roger Smith, a writer of noir mysteries. The South African former filmmaker-screenwriter writes about the brutality of life in his native country following Nelson Mandella’s departure from government.

Smith has been called the Elmore Leonard of South Africa and the shooting star of the crime scene by reviewers. He says that American readers are fascinated by his depiction of life in his country as well as shocked and appalled by its brutality.

“South Africa went from being pariah of the world to everybody’s darling under Nelson Mandela, but the bubble burst when Mandela moved on. Crime and corruption replaced apartheid as our number one social ill.”

Most readers will find it hard to believe what he has to say about life in the nightmare society that he bases his novels on.

On the opposite end of the crime spectrum, Geraldine Evans of London writes two light-hearted crime series featuring Detective Inspector Dafyd Llewellyn and Sergeant Joseph Rafferty, a working-class “copper” who provides a bit of levity and has an Irish mother who tries to “imping on every aspect of his life.”

And then there’s Martin Edwards, another Brit who writes police procedurals. A member of the “Murder Squad,” he’s also chairman of the subcommittee for the most prestigious crime novel award, the CWA Diamond Dagger, and is an archivist for the Crime Writers Association. Edward’s protagonists are not working class stiffs. His day job is that of a Liverpool solicitor and his protagonist, Harry Devlin, is a fellow lawyer who works his cases in the Lake District series. 

Lou Allin worked and wrote for many years in Ontario, Canada’s bush country 250 miles north of Toronto. After 30 years of experiencing -35C temperatures in winter and 30C with hordes of insects during summer in Canada’s nickel capitol, she decided to write her amateur sleuth novels in Canada’s “Caribbean,” Vancouver Island. What she has to say about her experiences is worthy of a book itself.

Bestselling Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif was fed-up with her New York publisher and decided to self-publish on her own. The result was Imajin Press, which publishes a number of other writes in both Canada and the U.S. Her first book, Whale Song, placed her on the bestseller list and her unique way of promoting herself and her authors has made her a winner not only in her native Alberta, but an international bestseller.

Another Canadian, Joan Hall Hovey, lives and writes suspense novels from New Brunswick. She also teaches writing at the University and tutors with Winghill, a distance education (correspondence) school in Ottawa. She appears a proper lady you’d find at your neighborhood church, and some of her suspense novels will scare the devil out of you.

And last, but never least, among the "international" group are two of my favorite authors, Tim Hallinan and Leighton Gage, who, as regular visitors here know, live (at least part-time) and write from Thailand and Brazil. Tim’s Poke Rafferty thrillers are among my favorites as are Leighton’s Chief Inspector Mario Silva novels, which keep me enthralled.

Add fifty writers from the U.S., including Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J.A. Jance, Bruce DeSilva, Vicki Hinze and Vincent Zandri to the mix; and you have a book worth reading.

Fifty-eight of the sixty novelists have written articles on writing that every novice and veteran writer should enjoy. But, as the editor, I confess to a little prejudice.

Footnote: The Mystery Writers can be found, among other places, on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and is available both in print and as an eBook.

Leighton - Monday


  1. Thanks for this, Jean, and thanks to Leighton for arranging it. For those of you who haven't read Jean's interviews, she's first-rate -- I still recommend her MAVERICK WRITERS, featuring talks with practically everyone who ever wrote westerns, from A.B. Guthrie through Louis Lamour and Elmore Leonard, as one of the best books ever on the practicalities of writing a novel.

    Really good writers talk to Jean, and she does well by them.

    In fact, I'll be turning the tables and interviewing Jean on my own blog tomorrow.

  2. Martin Edwards is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of the Harry Devlin series. The Daniel Kind series is high on my list. Daniel resigned from his post in the history department at Oxford to write a book. The book was so successful it spawned a television program where Daniel solved historical mysteries using the logic of Sherlock Holmes. The first book in the series, THE COFFIN TRAIL, has a really evocative title that is worth following up.

    Martin Edwards should not be missed.

  3. It was interesting to note my reactions to Jean's comments about Roger Smith. I think he is a terrific writer, whose books suck me in very quickly. However, the South Africa he depicts is true for a very small part of the country, perhaps miniscule. Almost every visitor who comes here wants to return - that would not be expected if what he describes were pervasive. I read one review of Caryl Ferey's ZULU, which has a similar tone to Smith's books, in which the reviewer wrote that he or she would never visit South Africa on the basis of reading the book. That rankled, I have to admit, being South African and living in South Africa much of the time. I guess the best to hope for is for readers to visit and see for themselves. I'd bet they'd feel Smith's South Africa was different from that they experienced.

  4. I'll be searching that out Jean, as well as the book Tim mentions. I love reading interviews with other writers, and when they're as indefatigable and as talented as Martin Edwards I'm doubly interested.

  5. Thanks, Jean, for your introduction to some some very interesting characters. I mean the writers, not just their creations. Martin Edwards and I share Poisoned Pen Press as a publisher in the US and I agree that you couldn't have picked a better Brit (aside of course from Dan Waddell:)).

  6. Thank you, Leighton, for the invitation to appear here. My appeciation also to Tim for your kind comments. Stan, I'm glad to hear that Roger's depiction of South Africa isn't as pervasive as I originally thought and I'd love to visit there someday. Dan, I'm also a fan of Martin Edwards, and Jeffrey, I'm a Poisoned Pen author as well. PPP published my first book of interviews, Mysterious Writers, which Amazon seems to have mixed up with my new book, The Mystery Writers.

    (I deleted the last part of my post because it was filled with urls. If you're interested in reading my new interview book, type in THE MYSTERY WRITERS JEAN MEAD at or THE MYSTERY WRITRS at Barnes and Noble.)

  7. What a lineup--I am so excited to read this when I begin my next book. I don't read any fiction then, and books on craft are the only thing that get me through, reading-wise...

  8. Hi Jenny. It's great to see you here. I hope you enjoy the book. I wish it had been available when I was learning to write fiction.

  9. THE MYSTERY WRITERS sounds fascinating to me-I'm always interested in hearing what authors have to say.


  10. Susie,

    This is my fifth book of intervirws and I think the best when it comes to good advice for novice writers, as well as those of us who have been writing for many years. I certainly learned some valuable things from it.

  11. A tremendous effort and gift to all your readers. Just reading the brief bios of a few of the authors and a description of what they cover was fascinating