Jean Henry Talks About her New Book, The Mystery Writers

I was inspired to produce my recently released book, The Mystery Writers, because I didn’t want the interviews to disappear into cyberspace, never to be read again. I’ve been interviewing mystery novelists since January of 2009, and I put together a collection of 75 interviews in 2010. The collection is titled Mysterious Writers, the same name as my blog site, and the book was published in ebook form by Poisoned Pen Press.  It has sold so well that I decided to produce another, in print as well as Kindle and Nook. The second book is titled The Mystery Writers.

The authors donated some very good articles about writing to accompany their interviews and some of them came from as far away as South Africa, Brazil, England, Canada and Thailand. A number of the well-known writers include Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J. A. Jance, Vicki Hinze and former Writer’s Digest fiction columnist James Scott Bell, who has published bestselling books on the craft of writing. 

The articles are not just about the art of mystery writing, but writing in general. The writers represent twelve mystery subgenres, including traditional mysteries, cozies, amateur sleuths, private eyes, police procedurals, crime, noir, historical mysteries, thrillers, humorous mysteries, suspense, and contemporary western mysteries.
Many are bestselling and award-winning novelists and their advice is invaluable for both novice as well as veteran authors. One of my favorite bits of advice comes from James Scott Bell who said: “Be ruthless in revision. Cut out anything that slows the story down. No trouble, tension or conflict is dull. At the very least, have something tense occurring inside a character.” He also said, “Don’t take rejection or criticism personally. Learn from criticism and move on. Perseverance is the golden key to a writing career.”

Because I’m also a mystery/suspense novelist, my own advice is: Never send out a manuscript before it’s ready. When you consider it finished, place it in a drawer for a month before you take it out to read as though someone else had written it. Then edit and polish your masterpiece until it shines. If you can afford a freelance editor, by all means hire one. It’s the best investment you can make in your writing career because you only get one chance to make a first impression with an editor or agent. And first impressions are usually lasting.
Critique groups are also a good source of feedback for your work. Critique partners—if they’re writer savvy—can spot holes in your plot that need filling in, or something that doesn’t quite ring true. We  novelists are often too close to our work to notice inconsistencies. Writers who are familiar with your  genre are best to partner with, so choose carefully and don’t weigh critique comments as though they were carved in stone because no one approaches the language of fiction in exactly the same way. It’s your work and you’re the final judge

Bio: Jean Henry Mead is a national award-wining photojournalist who has been published domestically as well as abroad. Her Logan and Cafferty mystery-suspense novels include A Village Shattered, Diary of Murder and Murder on the Interstate. Her Hamilton Kids’ mysteries are Mystery of Spider Mountain and Ghost of Crimson Dawn. She’s also written historical novels, history books, and edited five books of interviews. Her website:

Thank you for hosting my blog tour. I'll be giving away a print copy of The Mystery Writers as well as an ebook copy at the conclusion of the tour in a drawing from among visitors who leave comments at my blog sites.


Jake said…
What an interesting concept for helping other writers. Enjoyed your contribution. Looking forward to reading your books.

Thank you Marilyn for another interesting blog.Jake
Jean Henry Mead said…
Thanks, Marilyn, for hosting me today, and thanks, Jake, for your kind words.
marja said…
Thank you Marilyn and Jean! Great blog and I appreciate that it encourages writers. I also appreciate your generosity in keeping authors' interviews alive.
Jean Henry Mead said…
Thanks, Marja. It's important to help fellow writers, especially those struggling to gain a toehold in the publishing business. I wish this book and the one before it had been available when I was learning to write ficiton.
M.M. Gornell said…
I agree with Jake and Marja, Jean. It is wonderful you're keeping your interviews alive--and you're spotlighting authors who otherwise would have an opportunity to be in the "spotlight" at the same time. Bravo, and kudos.

M.M. Gornell said…
Make would, WOULDN'T. Jeez, need a editor following me around everywhere.
Anne K. Albert said…
Great advice, Jean. I particularly like your suggestion of seeking out an editor. Even authors who do not self-publish need someone to take a second look at the completed manuscript. If it means one less typo, it's worth it!
Jean Henry Mead said…
Thanks, Madeline and Anne. Writers need all the recognition we can get for our work, especitally those of us who haven't yet reached bestselling and award-winning status.
Mary Martinez said…
I agree on the part about putting away your manuscript. Fresh eyes are always better. I also like to print it out, you catch things on paper you don't on the computer screen.

Thanks for the post!
Lou Allin said…
You are so on the money about critique groups, Jean. When they're good, they are worth their weight in gold.
Shweta Pathak said…
Custom Software Developer
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

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