Jean Candlish Kelchner was born and grew up in Augusta, Arkansas, a small town on The White River, a tributary of the Mississippi, and just as muddy.

Ms. Kelchner holds a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies from Kean University in New Jersey where she taught English and Humanities. She is a member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) and IWWG (International Women’s Writing Guild). She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Charles.

Interview with Me

 How do you describe yourself as a writer? 

I know I speak with a Southern voice.  Even though I moved from the South more years ago than I care to remember, I like the way my heart races when I fly into Memphis, cross the bridge over the Mighty Mississippi where halfway-in Tennessee turns into Arkansas, my home state.  I don’t think the place of one’s childhood ever lets go.  In fact, the three women of my three completed novels grew up in the South but unfolded in the north—just the way I did.  I didn’t plan it; it just happened.

What do you consider the major focus of your work?

Women. Women in History, our connection with women from the past, Women opening to themselves and what they can be. I call women who are busy being what they are supposed to be and doing things they are supposed to do, Sleeping Beauties.  There’s nothing wrong with that but at some point we need to wake-up and say, “Hey, What about Me?” 

 And, what about you?

 I was a Sleeping Beauty, but now I call myself a Late-Bloomer. I went back to school late, started teaching late, and started writing even later.  But I did start, and it’s never too late to start. 

I went back to school and got a degree in Music (I was an organ major), got my Master’s in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Art History, Music History and Literature and taught.  For three years I taught at small Girl’s High School inRoselle,NJ.  It was great, but the third year it closed.  That was a sad year.   Endings are sad . . . . . .

I could see that I was losing her to her thoughts, so, like all good interviewer wannabes, I hurried to take back control.  What did you teach?

            What?  Oh, uh, Junior level English—that was American Lit. then—all the school music and an Honors Humanities class I had developed.  You do a lot of different things when you teach in a small school.

 Is this when you started writing?

Sort of.  Another English teacher and I had this idea about writing a humorous story about menopause and we each came up with an idea—mine went all the way to the White House.  We dropped the idea but the idea wouldn’t drop me. 

 What are you doing now?

I spent the past year trying to get other late-bloomers to tell me their stories.  I figured that I would tell my story and other women would tell their stories and I would take the best and get them published so that SLEEPING BEAUTIES everywhere would have the courage to be liberated.  I also figured that women everywhere would be as excited as I was—but they weren’t.  I got few responses

I’m still going to try but, in the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on my own writing and my Herstory project.  I put a new Maxine novel and my Herstory project on the back-burner for The Late-Bloomer Chronicle, so I’m behind on all that.


Yes,  Herstory is my on-going project.  Men wrote history about the deeds of men, so I write herstory about the deeds of women.  There are many women who languish in obscurity but have made real contributions.  I take the limited facts about them, fill in the blanks with logical fiction, and then, let them tell their stories.  I’m convinced that history is no more complete without its herstory than man is without woman.  Daughters of Eve is my first published herstory book and I’m working on Three Faces in the Civil War—a Yankee Abolitionist, a Southern Spy, and a Slave.

 With that, the author’s eyes took on a distant look, her smile became dreamy, as if it were part of another place, another time.  I knew the interview had ended.