Today we are honored to be interviewing Mary Jean Adams. Mary Jean joins her first love of romance with her second love of history together to create wonderful books with interesting storylines.
Welcome to my blog, Mary Jean!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
I was raised in Central IL, the middle daughter of a college professor and an accountant. Though my dad was an engineering professor, he wanted to be a writer. When he went on sabbaticals to places like Brazil, he would send home these beautifully written letters that made me wish I could write even half as well as he could.
After an extended stint in Chicago and a shorter one in Washington State, I now live in North Dakota, which is a lot like Central IL, only colder. Lord willing, my husband and I will have been married 30 years next October. We have two kids, aged 20 and 17. (If you do the math, you might notice we had a few struggles in that department for a while.)
My math tells me you had a few years struggling to have children. But also that God has blessed you. What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?
I love reading all sorts of genres, but I will always go back to romances. Life is tough, and sometimes, I just want to be assured of a happy ending.
I still love Julie Garwood’s older Highland novels like The Gift. More recently, I’ve been plowing through Tamara Leigh’s novels, both her medieval and contemporary ones. The latter are really cute, but I like the depth of her historicals. They are also interesting because they were originally written at a higher heat level, but she went back and rewrote them as clean novels. Some of them probably fit into the inspirational category, but for the most part, I see them as great reads with some Christian elements.
What age did you realize you loved books?
While my sisters watched cartoons on Saturday mornings, I went with my mom to the library. I had to sit through a puppet show (Mom probably didn’t want me following her everywhere), but then I got to check out as many books as the library would allow. My mom and dad used to tease me that they had to turn off my light every night because I always fell asleep with a book over my face.
What made did you start writing this genre?
In 7th grade, a friend introduced me to Barbara Cartland. I know, a bit steamy for the 7th grade, but it was the late 70s. I tried my hand at writing my own material in the journal we kept for English class. I still remember the big, red “INAPPROPRIATE” that my teacher wrote at the top of the page. Needless to say, I never asked her to critique anything again!
Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
I’m going to focus on my first novel, Le Chevalier. Even though I’ve written three since then and have a fifth in the query process now, Le Chevalier remains my favorite.
As for what I learned about myself, I hope you’re not expecting something deep. I think the biggest thing I learned was that stuffing a lot of things into my brain and letting them stew around in there for a while is the best way to come up with a story idea. My idea for Le Chevalier came from three places: my fascination with the Marquis de Lafayette, reading about a Le Chevalier de Beaumont (a rather interesting historical figure to say the least) and watching an anime called Le Chevalier d’Eon, which is very loosely based on Beaumont. (very loosely)
Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?
I start with an idea and then start “sketching.” It’s not an outline per se, but a lightly written story of about 10,000 words that forms the structure of a full manuscript. Then, I go back and fill it in through about 25 rounds (or more) of edits. Rarely does the final product resemble my sketch because eventually my characters rewrite aspects of the story they don’t like.
Is there a special place you like to write?
Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I often write propped up against a couple pillows on my bed. I envy those people who do videos filmed in their nice, neat offices, complete with desks, artwork, and potted plants.
That’s my favorite place to write too!
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded? What character do you like best?
I was probably most surprised that my first book had a leading man who was French. I mean, it is an American historical and public school history classes kind of gloss over the French involvement in the American Revolution. Nevertheless, Mont Trignon remains my favorite character. One of the things I like best about him is that he resisted any attempts to turn him into a caricature of an 18th century Frenchman. In the end, he was a very sweet man, but no pushover.
What advice would you give a new author?
Just keep writing. If you’re young, don’t lose hope, even if you have to set it aside for a few years. I first tried my hand at getting published in the early 90s, then the need to earn a living and raise a family got in the way. But I found getting published way easier twenty-five years later. Perhaps, having experienced so much more of life, my stories took on a depth they never had when I was younger.
This may sound strange to some, but I also thank God I didn’t achieve success early on. I don’t think I would have liked myself as much if I had. Even now, He finds all kinds of ways to keep me humble. (Anyone who has ever gone through the querying process knows what I am talking about!)
What project are you working on now and how do we find your books?
I am working on my first “clean read.” My previous books are steamy, meaning some love scenes, but not drawn out and not very many. The focus is more on the relationship, so unless you’re looking for purely clean romances, I doubt I will offend anyone. (Boy, that doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?)
Anyway, The Rebel’s Kiss is also set in pre-Revolutionary America. It’s part of a series called The Peacemakers where the Rebels aren’t always the good guys and the Redcoats aren’t always evil. (If you’ve ever read Pamela Clare’s early American series, MacKinnon’s Rangers, my new series takes a similar approach) While I love the history of the time period, at the end of the day, the story is about the romance.
Where can we find your books?
I usually just send people to my Amazon page – Mary Jean Adams – but my publisher made sure you can get them just about anywhere online. They are available in both ebook and paperback for those who still enjoy the tactile experience of reading.
If you’re interested in staying in touch, I’m also fairly active on social media, and I’d love to connect: