Welcome to a new series. A showcase of writers who’s books I’ve enjoyed and whose company I relish. Writing is such a lonely occupation that the online friendship of fellow wordsmiths is a must.
Jean’s interest in writing historical fiction began at school where English and history were the only subjects she actually enjoyed. The history teacher was brilliant, and when she told tales of the past – the ring of clashing swords, the cries of battle, and the sobs of those to be beheaded were brought to life and held Jean enthralled.
The English teacher was appalling! Unable to control a class she would tell the children to write a story. Most of the pupils would groan but Jean was in her element. Whilst writing she forgot she was in a classroom which was a real bonus. As an adult it was second nature to write short stories and soon these began to appear in magazines in America, Australia, Ireland and the UK. An ambition to write a novel began quite by chance when she came across derelict Dorothea Quarry, an astounding beautiful and haunting place. Stepping over the rusty wire of a wrecked Blondin, the idea of The Widow Makers came to her. There was extensive research as she knew nothing of the slate quarries of North Wales, or the lives of the men working there in the 19th century. With no internet at that time, research was done in libraries, museums, archives in Caernarfon and Penrhyn Castle. There was a great deal of travelling between her renovated chapel in the Welsh hills to Caernarfon and hours of ploughing through ancient documents. The driving force at this time was to write the story of Joe Standish, a fictional quarry worker.
The first book in the series The Widow Makers 1842-1862 was traditionally published in 2005 and republished in 2012.The Welsh Books Council awarded a Literary Grant for the publication of the second book The Widow Makers: Strife.
Book three and four The Widow Makers: Road’s End and Tommy followed fairly promptly. While still living in North Wales, her home overlooked by an old slate quarry, Jean wrote Freya 800 AD. A Viking era book portraying the life of a woman living more than a thousand years ago at the beginning of the Viking raids on Britain. Research took her to longhouses, longships and museums in Ireland. Discovering how our northern ancestors really lived.
It was a strange decision, one prompted by her then agent Sylvia Land that Jean embarked on writing a psychological thriller Kate’s Secret. Because historical fiction is Jean’s forte it wasa difficult project. Though she did enjoy writing without stop-start research a historical novel demands.
Jean soon went back to her comfort zone of historical fiction and Hannah and Hannah’s Inheritance were created.The book in progress is another historical and based in Cornwall in 1803. With no thought of retiring from writing, she plans to carrying on until the Big Editor in the Sky takes out his redpen. When relaxing with a book Jean chooses to read historical fiction. Some favourite authors are Judith Arnopp, Mary Wood, Elizabeth Chadwick, Dauphne du Maurier to name just four.
Jean moved to Brittany in 2016 and has settled in a very rural environment. She loves the peace and quiet where the loudest sounds are made by the birds.
THANK YOU, JEAN. NEXT TIME IT’S THE TURN OF SUZIE TULLETT, WRITER AT BOMBSHELL/BOOKOUTURE.