An Interview with Jean Hart Stewart
The Romance Studio
by Holly Hewson
About Jean Hart Stewart
I’ve always regarded myself as a very lucky person. Even though when I was six a freak accident killed my father, hit by a golf ball, of all crazy things. My wonderful mother went back to work as a school teacher. Her hours were longer than mine, so after school I was confined to the house until she returned home. So I began to read early and steadily. She saw to it I had plenty of books from the library, and I read through everything she brought home. I knew by the age of ten I wanted to be a writer, preferably exactly like Jane Austen who I discovered early and read over and over. At twelve I wrote my first romance. It was doubtless dreadful and is fortunately lost. Still my early isolation turned out to bless the rest of my life.
I found a group of other semi-nerds in high school, and always loved school. Ohio State University’s school of journalism was a natural, and when I dated the editor of the student magazine he featured me as Campus Queen of the Month. Goes to prove who you know definitely counts! I didn’t even recognize the picture the professional photographer took. The only importance of this long forgotten fact is my future husband’s brother knew me from a class we took together, saw the picture and asked his older brother to come along to meet me and put in a good word for him. Hugh (the handsome brother) was then a graduate assistant in physics.
Not interested in anybody’s brother, (not very bright of me!) I sloughed off the request for several weeks, until one night when we arranged to meet at the library. When I saw Hugh and his brother walking down the long stone steps to me I knew in my heart I’d found, the real thing, love at first sight. I told the girl with me that same night I’d met the man I was going to marry. Two years later the brother was best man at our wedding.
Don’t let anybody tell you instant love doesn’t exist. We’ve had two children, two grandchildren, and a wonderful life together as Hugh’s job sent him to Europe a lot and often we went along. After that came my 25 year career as a real estate broker, lots of fun but I wouldn’t want to be in that field today. Too many sharks circling the waters. I could tell some good stories, though, like the client who didn’t keep his appointment because his jealous brother murdered him that morning!
Then I started writing, and here I am eight years later, a senior citizen with twelve books published and another book on the way from Red Rose Press.
I almost automatically started writing Regencies. Then my research in different historical areas led me to the ancient Druid culture. Merlin and King Arthur have always captivated me, and I discovered the Druids had once spread from the British Isles to Turkey and still exists today.
I couldn’t resist the idea of having the magical endowments Druids presumably possessed passed on to future generations. My Druids are descendants of a ruling priestess of Avalon, and have fascinating powers. The historical settings of each book, starting in 1898 are accurate, even if the mystical powers are a little embellished.
What a fertile and wonderful field for a writer. Once again I was fortunate. I’d welcome any questions from readers about Druids and Mages then and now, so please e-mail me. I’d love to hear from all of you.
HH: What sort of research was required for your books?
JHS: I do a lot of research for each book. Although Druid powers can’t be proven, the historical background of each book is as accurate as I can make it. I have a separate ten pocket folder for Druids, as well as large ones for each book. I use the web a lot, but also do extensive reading to pin down the period of history I’ve moved to. I generally research for four to six weeks before even starting to write.
HH: What did you enjoy most about its writing?
JHS: I love to write and always have. Telling the story I have in mind is the best part. Research is fine and interesting, and editing is drudgery, but putting the story down on paper is a wonderful joy. Exasperating at times, but joyful.
HH: What challenges did you face?
JHS: I had an agent in New York who seemed to like my work on other historical novels. However, when I sent her Druid’s Daughter she returned it back saying it didn’t appeal to her. I had complete faith in this book and amicably severed relations. Cerridwen Press was the first publishing house I approached with Druid’s Daughter and they liked it and the sequel, My Darling Druid, which was already written. So I found a wonderful home for my babies.
HH: What are you working on now?
JHS: My current series is about Mages, the Wizards of the druids.
HH: Does the love of reading you developed as a child continue today?
JHS: Definitely I still read all I can. I’m a rapid reader, which helps and I can’t imagine a life without lots of books.
HH: What made you decide to try writing professionally?
JHS: It wasn’t a decision as much as a compulsion. I’ve always wanted to write, and finally I had no choice. I quit a successful career in order to write and never made a better decision. (except for marrying my DH)
HH: What do you still enjoy about being a writer today?
JHS: All of it. I plot a lot at night when I wake up and a new idea sometimes gets my hero or heroine in a hopeless situation I have to really sweat to resolve. Still it’s fun. Of course I love it when I hear from readers and wish everyone would email me.
HH: Thank you!