WE Magazine for Women Interview with Jan Helen McGee, Author of Carriers of Genius: Conversations with the Mothers of Twelve Famous Men 


What is the premise of your book? Carriers of Genius: Conversations with the Mothers of Twelve Famous Men examines the lives of Disney, Einstein, Franklin, Gershwin, Hughes, Rockwell, Rogers, Roosevelt, Whitman, Wright, Astaire and Carver through the eyes of their mothers. A tribute to women everywhere, it reminds us that there’s a true story behind every myth and that we don’t get places alone.

How did you choose the idea for Carriers of Genius? When I had my son, I became curious about the impact other mothers had on their son’s lives.

What surprised you about these men? Each man played music or was exposed to it, and most of them relied on their intuition to explore creativity. Several of the men disliked the rigidity of school and some couldn’t see the benefit at all.

What did you find amazing about these women’s stories? I was shocked at the influential role each one played in her son’s life. Mothers are underrated and barely covered in history.

What motivated these women to raise their sons in the way they chose? Some were motivated by money, some by inherent ability, and some by a desire to shape their son into a field they could not enter due to their not being a man.

Why did you pick these men? I felt each man was a genius in his field and I felt a kinship with all of them.

This book took you fifteen years to research and write. What was your motivation? My high school English teacher clearly preferred two students whose writing skill was light years from the rest of us. Leftover competition pushed me, along with a desire to learn about women from the past.

In your introduction, you explain that you time travelled to interview these mothers. How did you do that? The same way I worked pro bono as a psychic on murder cases. I gathered my energy, concentrated, and accessed a special part of my brain. Sometimes I had to wait until I heard from the women or until I felt a strong connection.

What was it like to be there? I smelled and sensed the women, and felt their pleasure and pain. With my eyes, I saw them as hazy or wavy, but my other senses stayed keen.

When you interviewed the mothers, was it hard to put yourself in that position? I’ve worked in radio and television so it wasn’t difficult. The hard part was the switch from the other women to me, so I wrote the mother’s information first, then added questions and reshaped it.

Learn more and get your copy of  Carriers of Genius: Conversations with the Mothers of Twelve Famous Men