Author Interview with Jeanne MacKin

The Sweet By and By

The Sweet By and By

For the next month or so, I will be posting author interviews at least once a week. Today, I would like to introduce writer, Jeanne MacKin, author to multiple books in different genres and a speaker at the upcoming Historical Novel Society Conference in St.Petersburg, FL June 21-23, 2013.  I am attending the HNS Writers Conference and I am thrilled to be going, there’s still time to sign up if you haven’t already done so!

Today’s highlight is Jeanne’s  historical novel THE SWEET BY AND BY. I am intrigued by its subject matter and story line: 

“Is death the end? Do ghosts exist? What is faith? Mackin examines these and related issues in a totally nonmacabre manner, telling in tandem two stories that take place about 150 years apart. In 1998, journalist Helen West, while mourning the death of her married lover, Jude, researches the strange life of Maggie Fox, called the Founder of American Spiritualism. Maggie became famous after 1848 when, with her sisters’ help, she developed a large following eager to contact the spirits of dearly departed loved ones. Helen becomes involved with her subject and with the concept of the possibility of returning spirits. Can they comfort those they love? Can one enter a loving relationship with another before finding closure with the deceased, previous loved one? This well-written tale is sympathetically conceived and entertainingly presented. Recommended. DEllen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc” – Goodreads Review


Q:  What got you first interested in historical fiction?

Probably the stories my family used to tell, about my father getting stuck on the train tracks one Christmas eve, how my grandmother was supposed to be a descendant of Lafayette and my great-grandfather the son of a freed slave; how my brother ran away to the circus and was almost stepped on by an elephant.  The stories always moved back in time and I fell truly in love with that movement into a blurry time before I existed.  The stories left me wanting to know more, and to create my own stories.

Q:  Do you have an anecdote about a reading or fan interaction you’d like to share?  

At my very first reading for my first novel, The Frenchwoman,  when my knees were knocking so badly I actually tipped over a large floor-standing vase of flowers, I ended the question and answer session by saying we could never really travel back to the eighteenth century. Someone in the audience raised his hand and said, “Oh yes, we can.  Your chapter took me there.” I was so flattered, because that’s exactly what I want  my fiction to do, to make people feel as if they are actually there, inhabiting the story along with the characters.

Q:  What are your favorite reads? Favorite movies? Dominating influences?

I read the novels of Jean Rhys over and over, especially Wide Sargasso Sea. That first paragraph, when she creates an entire world with so few worlds, just stuns me every time. And when I was a kid, I read and reread everything by Anya Seton and of course Daphne du Maurier. Fabulous, fabulous writers.

Q:  Is there a writer, living or deceased, you would like to meet?

I have always wished I could have partied with Ben Franklin.  He has been kind of sainted by history, along with the other fathers of the nation.  But he had a great sense of humor and fun, was very sociable and enjoyed good wines and wonderful meals.  I think he would have been the perfect dinner party partner, full of flattery, slightly tipsy, and making naughty jokes under his breath.

Q:  What book was the most fun for you to write?

The must fun was the Louisa mysteries, Louisa and the Missing Heiress, The Country Bachelor, and the Crystal Gazer.  To write them I had to work with Louisa’s fascinating psychology, so that the story lines contained events that would have mattered to her – issues about slavery, women’s rights, poverty – but also included some her light-heartedness and humor.   She also had a taste for the gothic and wrote some pretty racy stuff anonymously and under nom-de-plumes so it was interesting to play with that a bit as well.


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