[Interview] Jean Holloway

Jean Holloway lives in Kennesaw, GA.

Her books include Ace of Hearts (PHE Ink, 2009)) which is also available as an audiobook; Black Jack (PHE Ink, 2009); Deuces Wild (PHE Ink, 2010) and Full House (PHE Ink, 2011).

In this interview, Jean Holloway talks about her concerns as a writer:

When did you start writing?

It all began when my sister, Lori, commented, ‘You read so much, I bet you could write book,’ and I answered, ‘I bet I can!’ and began writing Ace of Hearts in long-hand in 1980. I completed the manuscript in 1982.

I was 30 years old and the mother of six.

I never considered the possibility of becoming a published writer, in fact, if someone had told me I would become a published author at the age of 57, I wouldn’t have believed them. Lori pushed me into this career when she bought me a ticket to the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta and instructed me to print copies of my manuscript and give them to anyone who wouldn’t throw them back. That’s where I met my first publisher.

Two years later at a literary event in Houston, I met T.L. James, CEO of PHE Ink. I recognized a kindred spirit and switched publishers.

How would you describe your writing?

I’m a genre bender, writing risqué romantic thrillers with a splash of the paranormal.

My target audience is mainly women over 21. I thought they could empathize with my protagonist, Detective Shevaughn Robinson.

Which authors influenced you most?

All my life I’ve been a fan of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Tananarive Due and Jean Auel. I admired their ability to transport me into their world and take me on a roller coaster ride. I wanted to have the same effect on my readers.

And how have your own personal experiences influenced your writing?

I thought the influence was minimal until my sister, April pointed out the similarities of my characters (especially Shevaughn’s) experiences to correlating events and attitudes in my own life. What an eye-opener!

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

I think my biggest challenge is getting readers who are unfamiliar with my work to give me a chance. I find there are a lot of readers who only read their favorite authors and won’t gamble on someone new.

How are you dealing with this challenge?

I’ve put excerpts on all my social networks. Usually, once they read a smidgen, either they love me or hate me.

Do you write everyday?

No, not every day. I usually write when my characters tell me to. A session starts when I hear one of them whisper in my mind. Then I go to my computer and write what I hear. It ends when they get quiet. Since they seem to be nocturnal, sometimes I find myself jumping out of bed at three in the morning running down to the computer to get down our thoughts before I forget.

How many books have you written so far?

  • Ace of Hearts, PHE Ink – Writing Solutions Firm, July 13, 2009, Second Edition
  • Black Jack, PHE Ink – Writing Solutions Firm, May 14, 2009
  • Deuces Wild, PHE Ink – Writing Solutions Firm, October 10, 2010. That was my 60th birthday present to me!
  • Full House, PHE Ink – Writing Solutions Firm – November 22, 2011

The four novels complete the Deck of Cardz series.

Detective Shevaughn Robinson is the main character in all four novels. You get to follow her life and career from rookie to Captain of the Homicide Division. As Portsborough, NY’s first Black female homicide detective in 1981, you watch as she strives to prove herself in a male-dominated workforce. You also meet her new partner, Jared Benjamin, and Tony O'Brien, an unexpected love interest.

The series introduces you to a series of sexual predators, starting with Eric Becker in Ace of Hearts, a psycho who has the inexperienced Shevaughn in his sights.

What is your latest book about?

In Full House, the final novel of the Deck of Cardz series, Captain Shevaughn Robinson is at the pinnacle of her career and living the challenging life of a single mother of two. It doesn’t help that her adolescent daughter still communicates with the dead and is in a relationship that’s way too serious for her age. Or that Nonna, the only one she can depend on, is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's.

When she hears allegations that the police are ignoring the growing number of missing black women in Portsborough, Shevaughn pledges to personally investigate their disappearance. It leads her to one of the most unusual crimes in her entire career and gives new meaning to the phrase, "honor thy mother".

How long did it take you to write the novel?

Full House took me a year because it’s the last novel of the Deck of Cardz series and after working on this series since 1980, I really hated to let it go. I procrastinated a bit.

Which aspects of the work did you enjoy most?

I loved seeing how everything came together.

I don’t use outlines or storyboards or anything. I write by the seat of my pants and once I’m through getting it all out, I have to arrange everything chronologically like a time puzzle.

What sets Full House apart from other things you've written?

This time I have an entire dysfunctional family instead of my usual one psychopath.

In what way is it similar to the others?

Shevaughn is one tough cookie from start to finish.

How did you choose a publisher for the book?

When I met T.L. James, we clicked. I chose PHE Ink because it’s a small, independent press which allowed them to give me the personal attention I wanted. It’s more like a literary family. I really don’t see any disadvantages since I’m now Managing Partner.

What will your next book be about?

I’m contemplating collaborating with another author or maybe another series, but haven’t worked out the details as of yet.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Ace of Hearts was nominated against the esteemed Walter Mosley’s The Tempest Tales in 2008. Of course, he beat me like a bad child, but what an honor!

Now Ace is an audiobook, but not your usual audiobook; it has music and sound effects like a classic radio show. And last year, I became a member of the GA Peach Authors. I’m proud to be touring with such a group of well-respected authors.

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Tl james said…
congratulations... this is wonderful

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