Hello M. Jean,
The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I started my writing career as a magazine writer, doing short romantic fiction, inspirational essays, and literary short stories. In the early 90s I decided to try my hand at novel writing. Since I adore a good love story and have always been fascinated with the supernatural, paranormal romance seemed like a good fit for me. I currently have three paranormal romance novels in print-- a ghost story, a time travel romance, and a love story featuring an enchanted cottage. I have a day job I love, a phenomenally handsome husband, and a brilliant fifteen-year-old son. When I'm not writing, teaching, doing housework, or hanging out with my family, you'll find me in my garden.
What type of books have you always wanted to write?
In addition to romance, I love to read literary fiction and coming of age stories. I have always admired authors who could take me along on a character's journey to self discovery and make me really feel what a character feels as he or she learns and grows. When I set out to write my fourth novel, I had every intention of writing another paranormal romance. My characters had other ideas. In The Shadow of the Dragonfly (due for release October, 2008 from Black Lyon Publishing) is a literary love story and a coming of age story all rolled into one. I'm very excited about it.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
I' love to! Here's my blurb for IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGONFLY:
Born in poverty, Gray Baldwin has never known the comforts of home and security. When his prostitute mother is murdered at the ill reputed Dragonfly Hotel, Gray is thrust into the foster care system, where he becomes a transient soul, a soul ever in search of love.
The pampered daughter of a business tycoon, Hope Hanwell has never wanted for creature comforts. A party girl on the surface, Hope plays too hard and laughs too loud in an attempt to escape the tormenting ghosts of the crime she got away with.
When fate brings their worlds together, Hope must reconcile her crime if she is to become the woman of Gray's dreams. And when an old threat resurfaces, Gray must rise above his past if he is to become the man Hope needs him to be.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
I love all of my heroes, but I have to say my favorite is Darby Sullivan in Waiting for the Rain (Champagne Books Novel of the Year 2007). A man of secrets, he's strong, but conflicted. Angry, but oh so tender. And when it comes down to the wire, he does the right thing even when it costs him everything. In the words of his lady, Willow Mackenzie, Darby Sullivan is everything a man should be!
What do you do for inspiration?
I drive aimlessly and listen to music. The combination seems to unlock my mind.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
The Internet is such a wonderful tool. I have researched online everything from what it takes to become a tattoo artist to how to crochet a baby blanket. But I find the best research is talking to people who have actually gone through what I plan to have my characters experience. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes I don't. I put off writing WAITING FOR THE RAIN for weeks because I didn't want to research brain cancer. With HEATHERFIELD, I could have done research until kingdom come! I love anything to do with the 1940s and the WWII generation. I read a lot of textbooks and old magazines, visited antique shops, and watched tons of old movies to familiarize myself with the clothing, cars, lifestyles and lingo of the era. I filled notebooks with research and ended up with enough for three books!
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Actually they help, once I get over that sick to my stomach, I can't do it feeling. A deadline makes me stay focused. I make myself sit down and write a page, and then another and another until I get it done.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
When I was in college and seriously considering switching my major to journalism, I attended a lecture by a visiting author. She's very famous and I was extremely excited to hear what she had to say. When she opened the forum up for questions, I asked her about getting started as a writer. She looked me in the eye and bluntly told me I was never going be a `real' writer as long as I lived in that small city and that the only way I would make it was to move to NY City and experience life. I was completely deflated and didn't end up pursuing my writing dreams for another decade. Now I can see that her advice was absolute hogwash. Some of the best writers I know of come from small towns. The best writing advice I received was from a writing instructor who basically told me to "cut the crap" and just say what I mean. Of course, I was offended, but looking back, my early works were so convoluted and full of fluff the stories hiding beneath were almost unrecognizable.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I always outline. I have a lousy sense of direction and am easily sidetracked. I'd no more start a story without an outline than go on vacation without a road map. I'm afraid I'd never reach my destination! I will write scenes in my head for weeks, but I don't consider a work officially started until I have my game plan in place. Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I have never formally joined a critique group. Actually the thought of it scares me to death! I can see where it has its merits, but I think it would be more of a hindrance to me because I have a huge self confidence problem. I have a circle of trusted friends - six awesome ladies that read all of my WIP's. It's a good mix. One is a poet, two are romance writers, one, a mystery writer, and one is an editor. The other is my sister, who just loves to read! They tell it like it is and they have never steered me wrong.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
I have excerpts of all my novels posted on my website, as well as news, a blog, and upcoming events.
Readers can contact me at mjeanpike2(at)yahoo(dot)com
Thank you for this opportunity!