Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Garden Interview with Jean M. Grant

Welcome Jean

Tell us about you and your books

Are your characters based on real people? Sometimes. The good, the bad, and the ugly. AJ Sinclair in and her son (Will) and husband from Will Rise from Ashes are based off my life. I wrote the first draft as an outlet, to get it all out and “write what you know.” But then I fictionalized the heck out of it and made it truly AJ’s (and not Jean’s) story. Even so, I know her journey as a special needs parent, a woman with anxiety, and a woman who has lost love ones all too well. I’ve also included snippets from real life in all my books: complicated family dynamics, experiences and trips, memories, and people who have impacted me in some way.

Do you research your action/fight scenes? Yes! I love researching as much as writing. It probably goes back to my science background. I started writing in the historical romance genre so there is a lot of research involved with that. I even watched YouTube videos on sword fighting. There are a lot of fighting/battles in the historicals. But even for the action sequences in my contemporary books, I’ve needed to do some research. In Soul of the Storm, I consulted Vermont State Police and a canine search and rescue unit to understand SAR procedures and rescues. Sometimes the contemporary research is more demanding than the historical.

What was the hardest book to finish and why? Will Rise from Ashes, which is women’s fiction, was my hardest. Probably because version 001 was just me getting feelings out on paper. It was my first book in first person point of view, and my first contemporary novel. Eight versions and three years later, it reached my editor’s desk greatly transformed and loaded with invisible blood, sweat, and tears. A typical book takes me 6-12 months to write and revise before it’s ready to be seen by editors/publishers. And then another year of editing to polish. This one took 3 years.

How much time do you spend writing every day? Hehe, a fun question with no answer. Anywhere from 0 to 8 hours, and everything in between. Nooks and crannies all the way. I’m home full-time, but my kids are still young, so if they are not in school, they are here. That includes pandemics, sick days, snow days, summer, vacations…I juggle and I’m great at tuning out when needed. I try to write more in the morning. Nowadays, weekends have become writing time, along with some evenings. When in the throes of the creative muse, I can write for several hours a day, every day, until it’s done. Since the time my children were babies, I’ve adopted the nooks and crannies and multi-tasking mentality. I try to not be hard on myself if I don’t hit a daily goal. I look at the marathon over the sprint.

What are your current projects? I just wrapped up the final galleys and edits on my third historical romance (with a paranormal angle) in my “hundred” trilogy, It’s called A Hundred Lies. I am delighted (and a little sad) to bring this medieval series to a close. But it’s bittersweet. It did not start as a trilogy. In fact, the first book is the middle book! Then I wrote the prequel, and now sequel. Each can be standalones, too. I start to wonder if I should write side stories about the secondary characters…Up next though, another contemporary romance that’s been in the works.

Do you have to travel researching your book(s)? I don’t have to travel to research, but if I can, I do. I love to travel. It’s my middle name. Nature is my muse. I love hiking and exploring. I’ve been to Scotland, Vermont, and Yellowstone National Park, all in the name of research—and well, vacations. I went to New Zealand for my honeymoon. I visited Guatemala on a mission trip (though I’ve yet to use that locale in a book). I love the National Parks and the world around us—nature and history, art, architecture. I visit museums, interview people, and do whatever I can to make my stories authentic. I look forward to the next adventure, wherever it may be. I live in New England, so I’ve also set books here, too.

And for something personal...

Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript? No but a cat typed on my computer and I missed a HUGE typo in the title of my science thesis in graduate school (in the field of microbiology and immunology). That error is forever branded on the hardcover book and on the title page. Non-science people would not notice it, but I still do. Like, the TITLE. Not on a page, but the printed title on a 300-page hardbound book. I must have edited my thesis more times than I do a book manuscript (okay, maybe not that much, but a lot) and I totally missed it. I blame the cat.

What makes you cry? Too many things. I am a waterworks gal over here. When my children struggle. When I experience grief and loss. When I get frustrated or overwhelmed or feel unappreciated or unheard. When I watch sappy movies.

What is your favorite comfort food? Cheese, and shape or form. Mild or strong. I love it all.

What is your favorite time of year and why? Summer! Though I used to love spring before I moved to New England. Our springs are just an extension of a very long winter. I love summer because all my gardens come into bloom. Flower gardening is an obsessive hobby for me. The beauty of each and every flower brings me such joy. Lupine, phlox, day lilies, hydrangea, peonies, irises, sage, catmint, daisies, black-eyed susans, petunias…so many! And now I have raspberry bushes (oh, they rock!), blueberries, strawberries, apple trees…and drum roll, my first year with a veggie garden. Wish me luck!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would be the most essential for you? Aside from the usual food, water, shelter, knife, and family: Lip balm, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson – just to help us wrangle wild beasts, build things, and for some humorous entertainment), and coffee.

Where can we find you online?

Download Will Rise From Ashes on Amazon and other online retailers

Buy link: Amazon


Jean M. Grant said...

Thanks for hosting me today!

Charlotteoshayauthor.com said...

Thanks for a relatable look at a working parent/author. Your garden sounds glorious. Good luck with the veggies!

CB Clark said...

Great interview! You sound like a busy mom. Looking forward to reading your next book.

Anna Taylor Sweringen said...

Thanks for letting us get to know you, Jean. I've just finished the draft of my first women's fiction so thanks for sharing your journey.

Barbara Bettis said...

Delightful interview. Love all the places you've traveled. And I admire the fact you can tuck in writing here and there! Looking forward to the third book of your historical trilogy.

Shirley Goldberg said...

So interesting the way you weave parts of your life into your stories. Of course, I always thought writers do that anyway, it's part of who we are and it goes in our books.

So. Was the cat given attribution for contributing to your thesis?

Jean M. Grant said...

Ha, Shirley. But we are now extra careful with laptops around cats. Current sweet cat - named Tres - and yes there is a cat named Tres in my newest book, A Hundred Lies, (pure coincidence! Named BEFORE I got Tres from a foster family) - and she loves to hang out with my husband all day now that he's been working from home. Sits right next to his laptop!

Jean M. Grant said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Always happy to share more about life, parenting, and writing. :)

GiniRifkin said...

Hi Jean: nice getting to know more about you. I'm with you on loving cheese, and nice call re: Dwayne Johnson!