Jean Roberts kindly interviewed me for her blog soon after the release of Keepers, so I am delighted to return the favour. A keen historian, Jean writes historical fiction and historical fantasy as well as maintaining three blogs on books/writing, genealogy and family history. Here she talks about her books, her research and what’s coming up next.
Tell us where you live and what a typical day might look like for you
Hello and thank you, Cheryl for inviting me to chat. I live outside of Houston, Texas with my husband. My usual day starts early with a walk to the gym. I like to write until lunchtime and for a little bit in the afternoon. I typically read for a while and then have a nice dinner. I just moved and am enjoying exploring the new area, finding restaurants and shops.
How did you come to be a writer?
I started writing later in life. Honestly, it never occurred to me to write a book until I started blogging about my family genealogy. Readers commented on my ‘style’ of storytelling and I thought, hum, maybe… Here I am, five books in and loving every minute.
What kind of writing do you do and what led you to that?
I write historical fiction and historical fantasy. I have loved history all my life and writing about it just seems to be a natural progression for me. I often find ways of slipping my ancestors into my books. My second book, Blood in the Valley, is actually the story of my ancestors during the American Revolution.
I really enjoy early American history and have written three books set either before or during the revolution. My first book is set in the 1650s, which is a fascinating time period. My current work-in-progress is set during the Texas revolution. During the COVID lock down, I poured my heart and soul into The Frowning Madonna, a story that spans the history of London.
How do you go about your research?
I do the majority of my research prior to writing the story, but I also do some during the writing as new plotlines develop. I create timelines and keep copious notes on the era I’m writing about. I fill spiral notebooks with way more than I need, but I have to admit, I love the research process.
Do you stay faithful to the historical record?
I try to rigorously follow the historical record. I think it’s an author’s obligation to our readers to not stray from known facts, unless the reader is made aware that we are playing with history.
What is your most recent book about, and what inspired this particular story?
The Heron was published in April of 2021. It’s a dual time line set in the 1690s and modern-day New Hampshire. I love early American history, it’s a fascinating era as waves of immigrants attempted to establish a ‘New England’ in America. Theirs was a violent, male-controlled society with strict cultural rules. I wanted to write a story about a woman who rebelled against those rules and the penalties she faced for doing so. The Heron is part ghost story, timeslip, and suspense. It’s gotten wonderful reviews.
(Purchase The Heron here.)
Are you close to other writers, and how does that help you?
I have found the writing community [on Twitter] to be very helpful. I’ve met writers who have done beta reading for me, found my editor, help with marketing all from a group of writer friends. I’ve done the same in turn. I’m not sure I’d be where I am today without their help.
What do you like to read yourself?
I read a lot of historical fiction. Many of my writing friends send me their books for review so I get to dabble in anything from ancient Rome to recent historical fiction. I love it all, as long as it’s a well-written tale.
One of my favourite authors of all time is Daphne du Maurier. Her book, Frenchman’s Creeks is an all-time favourite of mine. I’d like to sit next to her at dinner and find out what really happened to Rebecca on that boat!
What do you want your readers to feel when they have closed the last page of your book?
I hope there is a sense of disappointment that the story has come to an end! I hope they feel entertained, perhaps have learned a few things they didn’t know and want to read more of my books!
What’s the best thing someone has said about your writing?
I have gotten emails from many readers who have said that my books made the world of their ancestors come alive, they felt like they were fully immersed in the past. I can’t think of a better compliment than that.
If you could tell your ‘younger writer’ anything, what would it be?
Writing is the fun part. The real work starts when you type the words, The End.
What are your writing plans, and when can we expect a new book from you?
I am busy writing my fifth book, a dual timeline modern/Texas 1836. It’s in the early days of editing. My fourth book, The Frowning Madonna will be published by Black Rose Writing in March of 2022. It’s a rollicking ride through English history from Roman London to modern times.
(Pre-order The Frowning Madonna here.)
About Jean Roberts
Jean graduated from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. She is a former Air Force Nurse and Administrator for a Nonprofit. When not writing novels, she writes and maintains three blogs on genealogy, family history and books/writing. She lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.
Find Jean here –
Website Home | Jean M. Roberts – Wix.com
Read more author interviews here.