M. Jean Pike: I’ve always had a keen fascination for anything supernatural and I love nothing more than a great love story, so when I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, paranormal romance seemed like the perfect fit. But that’s not to say that I’m not open to trying other genres. My first three novels were all paranormal romances, and my latest novel, In The Shadow of the Dragonfly, is a literary love story.
Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you?
Jean: The first piece of fiction I ever wrote was a story called Mac: The Mysterious Mutt, the tale of a giant Labrador retriever with magical powers. I was in the third grade at the time, and yes, I still have that story! My first published short story came about twenty-five years later– a literary piece called The Gift, about a man’s struggle to love his mentally ill wife. It appeared in About Such Things Literary Magazine in the spring of 1999. I have the magazine framed and hanging in my office.
Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and did it take you a long time to gather that research?
Jean: I guess it really depends on the novel. For Heatherfield, (Black Lyon Publishing, 2008) a time travel romance set in the late 1940s, the research was endless. I spent months reading books about the WW2 generation. I looked at old magazines and watched old movies to get a feel for the lingo and clothing of the era. I visited antique stores and had a ball looking at the furniture and appliances from that decade. I loved every minute of it and filled enough notebooks with research for three books. In Waiting for the Rain, (Champagne Books, 2007) a romance about an enchanted cottage, I had to research everything from brain cancer to becoming a tattoo artist. For The Winds of Autumn, (Publish America , 2005) a ghost story romance, I did a tremendous amount of research on ghost sightings and ghostly behaviors. I write about themes that interest me, so the research never seems like a chore.
Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for Dragonfly?
Jean: In The Shadow of the Dragonfly (Black Lyon Publishing, 2008) is my first general fiction title. It is the story of a man and a woman and how Fate works to bring their lives together. The story stems from a lifetime of observing human nature and pondering the whims of Fate. It is dedicated to everyone who has ever been beaten down by life and found the courage to get up again, to go on.
Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write one of your novels? And is it the same or different with each novel you write?
Jean: I usually start daydreaming my novels months before I actually write them. Once I have a story idea firmly in mind, I start getting to know my characters. I don’t write a word until I know exactly who they are and what makes them tick. When I have a feel for them, I write a basic outline of how I want their story to flow. It is always subject to change, and usually does!
Phoebe: How did you feel when you finally saw your first published book came out in print and how do you feel about your other novels being published?
Jean: There is absolutely nothing in the world like seeing your vision morph from a fragile germ of an idea into a published work. A lot of writers say this and it’s true, the only thing that comes close is giving birth to a child. I experience the same euphoria every time it happens.
Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing?
Jean: I am a teacher of autistic children, a mother, a wife and homemaker, and all that goes along with that. Writing IS what I do to relax–lol!
Phoebe: Do you have any hobbies?
Jean: I’m an avid gardener and in the summer months can usually be found in my greenhouse. I also enjoy motorcycling with my husband and attending my son’s high school sporting events. And I love to read.
Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you?