Interview With Jean M. Grant
I am pleased to welcome historical romance/contemporary novelist Jean M. Grant to my blog today! Jean’s recently released novel A Hundred Lies is the final book in her “Hundred” trilogy, a sweeping Scottish saga with paranormal elements. Two of her previous books—Will Rise From Ashes (which, BTW, this interviewer read and LOVED) and A Hundred Breaths—are finalists in the 2020 Rone awards. Today Jean discusses her trilogy, reveals the mechanics behind her muse, shares an excerpt from A Hundred Lies, and more.
Hello Jean! Tell us about A Hundred Lies.
A Hundred Lies tells the story of the third MacCoinneach family member “gifted but afflicted” with a mystical ability. Domhnall’s mother was a Feeler (sensing auras), and his grandmother a Healer…and he has been blessed—and cursed—with the gift of Sight. Others in their bloodline have also been gifted these abilities and have suffered as a result. The natural elements of fire, water, and air tie into their powers. The trilogy spans three generations and a period of 1263 A.D. to 1322 A.D. This period is rife with conquering Norse (Vikings), Scottish Wars of Independence, and a fractured amnesty with England. I layer in mystical with historical, lore with culture, spirituality with medieval religion. Though it enhances the journey for the reader to read all of them, the books are each standalone stories. The most challenging part of writing the final book was wrapping the series (the mystical elements) with a hopeful ending and tying all three books together. Oh, and I also wrote the middle book first with no intention of a trilogy, but the story of Deirdre’s parents gnawed at me and the prequel (book one) was born, so then I was like, well, now to tell a story of Deirdre’s son…which led me to A Hundred Lies, and the completion of the trilogy. Will I write more? I don’t think so but you never know…
Oh! And with the encouragement of a few readers, I added supplemental material on my website to those interested: a genealogy/lineage chart of the family over three books, a glossary of people, places, and things, and commissioned medieval Scotland map. Check it out: https://www.jeanmgrant.com/extras
What prompted you to set your trilogy in medieval Scotland?
I love Scotland! All things about it. I love men in kilts (alas, none in this time period). I fell in love with medieval Scotland on the pages of Julie Garwood’s novels and of course 18th century Scotland in the pages of Outlander. I finally got to visit Scotland over a decade ago and it spurred the muse. Crags and glens, tower castles and thistles, rolling green hills and grassy moors, rugged seashore and isles…I just love it. Despite the wars, disease, and atrocities, we still find something romantic in clans and knights, lairds and ladies, peasants and common folk…
Your books have such intriguing premises: searching for loved ones in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption; a woman whose husbands keep dying on their wedding night. Where do you get your ideas?
Daydreaming, researching, finding unique ways to tell a story…they come from all over. I once met with an agent and she gave me great advice on finding that twist to a story. What else can we throw at these characters? Oh, a curse…a curse of what? Husbands dying on her wedding night. Is she really killing them or is it something else? She has this unique gift but doesn’t know its effect yet. Off she goes on a journey to delve deeper into her mystical mother’s history, and of course along comes this man who she’s seen in visions…and he’s got his own hidden agenda…and that’s kind of how it goes.
Also, real life inspiration plays a big part. I take real life experiences, then cater them to my characters. I home in on some emotional element of mine (such as losing my mom while I was still young, or my sister dying suddenly in an accident, or my hardworking [overworking] husband, or parenting an autistic child who loves volcanoes…) and then thread that in and make it my character’s own. The books are in no way biographical. I start there with some things and then let my story and character lead. I even include snippets from my life (traits, names, places, quirks, events, etc.) in all my stories. Only I know what’s me, what’s them. [wink wink] My books become a mishmash of real inspiration and daydreaming creativity.
Are you an outliner or a pantser? Outliner!
What comes first, character or plot? Character now. It used to be plot.
Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch? Both. 😊
What are you currently working on? A contemporary romance. I just finished some contracted work for a new website that is launching (family camping/national parks/travel).
What are you reading right now? The First Girl Child (Amy Harmon); just ordered The Menu (Steven Manchester) and Death in the Off-Season (Francine Mathews)—for book club. I have What the Wind Knows (Amy Harmon) in my kindle/audible waiting for me, too. I just read a great debut children’s/chapter book by Lakshmi Iyer called Why is My Hair Curly?
Would you rather…
Travel back in time or visit a far-off planet of highly intelligent, benevolent beings? Back in time—middle ages of course!
Lie on a beach or hike in the woods? Hike in woods.
Live the rest of your life on the equator or in the Arctic Circle? Arctic Circle. I think. New England is already like Hoth in winter; I am prepared.
Be lost in a bad part of town or lost in a forest? Forest.
Be free from junk mail or free from email spam for the rest of your life? Email spam.
Never have to clean a bathroom again or never have to do dishes again? Dishes! After 24/7 of the family under one roof for months on end now, I am very tired of dishes. Though I do not enjoy the bathroom.
Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women's fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she's not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.
Excerpt From A Hundred Lies (published on August 5, 2020):
Rosalie huffed but shuffled around him. “Excuse me, Sir Montgomerie.”
“It’s just Domhnall.” Shame skittered to the forefront of his mind. He lived a privileged life, hardly understanding the commoner, try as he might by pacing the streets afoot. In his mind, all people were equal, though society and nobles held other opinions of the lesser born. Not him. Not if he became laird. When. He sighed. When he became laird. Despite his parents’ noble upbringing, they celebrated every man, woman, and child’s God-given gifts. All should have opportunity. Here, men and women were treated fairly, as fair as they could get with the demanding barons and the king.
He was trying hard to help a woman who maybe didn’t want his help. When would he learn he could only help others so much?
He blinked away that pain. Why now? Why remember that awful memory? He’d only been a lad himself at the time. He hadn’t understood the power that rested in his visions. He swallowed. “Here.” He grabbed a crate from her, his hand accidentally brushing hers. A cool rush traveled up his fingers to his elbow. His blood pressure dipped, darkness luring him. No, he chided. Blazes, no! He commanded the vision to relent. The black curtain crossing his eyes quickly dissipated as blood flowed to his fingers. His extremities instantly warmed.
What was that?
Had he successfully halted a vision midstream? It had been years—years!—since his last true vision, if he didn’t count the strange man’s reappearance this week and Venora’s chilling words. Och, plus the misstep with that drunkard in Edinburgh a month ago. He picked up another crate, handed it to her, deliberately touching her fingers, testing the radical idea. Heart in throat. Bold. So bold. Nothing. Nothing but an attraction to the golden-haired lass welled within him. No vision. Only interest. Only…
He wanted to try again. And again.