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Interview with Jeanne M. Dickson

Grace, Growth, and the Garda
Author Interview with Jeanne M. Dickson
By Tiffany Amber Stockton



What would you do if you grew up living with your Irish grandmother, and you learned fascinating stories of your family while making beds, cooking, cleaning, and tending the home? You would probably want to write them down. Well, that’s exactly what Jeanne Dickson did. The result? Grounded Hearts, her debut novel.

This is only the beginning for Jeanne. She has definite plans to write more novels and tell more stories, especially one featuring how her dad and his sister emigrated to the United States. So, stay tuned! You will certainly be seeing more!

How could you not? After all, there aren’t many authors who are telling the stories of Ireland during World War II. The inspiration for this first book came from Jeanne’s father. He was stationed in England during WWII. Issued with a weekend pass, he decided to fly to the U.S. Army base in Northern Ireland, and then visit family who lived nearby. Once there, he borrowed a bicycle and peddled across the border into Eire, “Free Ireland.”

A few minutes into his ride, a member of The Garda, the Irish National Police, stopped him. The officer told him to turn his army jacket inside out, or he’d have to arrest him as a combatant and send him to the K-Lines internment camp. Her father obeyed and continued on his way without further incident, which was fortunate because 240 soldiers from both sides of the conflict faced internment in Ireland during the war.

This and many other stories are written down in her father’s and her aunts’ memoirs, which has been a huge help to keep her family history alive. Beyond that, Jeanne’s grandmother has touched her life in many ways. Jeanne grew up in a very traditional home with clearly defined roles. The women had ‘women’s work,’ and that’s where she started hearing family stories while helping make beds, cook, clean and do the shopping. In the 1970s, life was even more lively when her mother and aunts started demanding equality.

Not all things were equal, though. Jeanne grew up as the only girl with four brothers. The best part of being the only the girl was she always got her own room and new clothes—no hand-me-downs. However, when disputes between herself and a brother occurred, they boys would stick together, and Jeanne would be outnumbered. “Guess it was payback. But a room to myself was worth it.”

There are some things a grandmother can’t change, and sibling rivalry is one of them. However, where it matters, a faithful grandmother can impact a life in amazing ways, and that impact can have a lifelong affect. “When I was six years old, my grandmother taught me to drink tea with milk, and I still do to this day. She also instructed me to say, ‘In the name of Jesus, what do you want?’ the next time that ghost appeared in my room. She said the spirit would tremble at the name of the Lord and disappear. Worked every time!”

God’s presence is everywhere, and Jeanne realized this at a very young age, thanks to her grandmother’s strong faith. As Jeanne grew, so did her belief and trust in the Lord. No matter how dire a situation looks, God is there in the thick of things, offering hope and a way out. That’s one bit of perspective Jeanne hopes readers gain as a result of reading Grounded Hearts. “Through the mercy of God’s amazing grace, we are forgiven for our sins and can be delivered from despair—all we need to do is ask and accept the blessing and move on.”

We also must do our part after the blessing is bestowed upon us. We can’t simply sit back and do nothing. There was a saying in Jeanne’s house, and it likely still applies today. “Trust in the Lord, but lock your doors.” In other words, be aware of the role you play. God may put a story on your heart, but you still have to sit down and write it.

Even then, the process might still take more time. For Jeanne, she had to be patient. She had to wait for God’s perfect timing before this book came together. While she waited, she learned to never give up on a good story. Her agent and she kept pitching Grounded Hearts and sending it out until they finally landed a contract.

When her agent called and said, “Waterfall wants to make you an offer…”, that is what Jeanne considers the greatest moment of her career—at least for now. There are bound to be other great achievements and successes as she continues down this road.

That road began at a young age for Jeanne. When she was a child, she lived in Ireland. She visited her old relatives, who lived in thatched cottages. She climbed the ruined castles and abbeys and sat at a wooden desk in school and used a quill pen dipped in ink to do her schoolwork. One summer, her family rented a Georgian manor house on a lake. Those experiences filled her with inspiration and left her with a deep connection to Ireland. That’s why her stories will either be set in Ireland or have Irish characters.

It’s a great little niche too. Readers have said she has created a story that “entices and enthralls,” that is “delightfully immersive and engaging.” Jeanne credits that with a focus on world building to place the reader in the middle of the story. She also pays close attention to realistic dialogue that conveys the emotion of the characters. Then it’s a matter of revision until she captures all those elements to move the story forward. Based on the feedback and reviews so far, she’s obviously succeeding.

But World War II isn’t the only setting she writes. She also writes contemporary romance. It might be fun to step back in time and show a world that no longer exists, but at the same time, she loves current culture and the opportunity to poke fun at the way we live today.

Aside from writing and reading, Jeanne loves to shop, and not just for books. Right now, Once an Heiress by Renee Ryan and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance are sitting on her nightstand, but her guilty pleasure is watching way too much Masterpiece Theater and Project Runway. In the future, Jeanne promises to “lose ten pounds. No wait. Twenty. Okay, fifteen. And publish another book.”

Most of all though, publishing Grounded Hearts has been a fabulous experience for Jeanne. She’s very thankful to everyone who has read her book, and she loves to hear from readers, so please reach out to her via social media or her web site. And if you haven’t picked up your copy of Jeanne’s debut novel, do so today!

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Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who lives with her husband and author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a Retriever-mix named Roxie. She has sold 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader’s choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. www.amberstockton.com.




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