Günter Grass said, “Invariably the first drafts of my poems combine drawings and verse, sometimes taking off from an image, sometimes from words.” Kurt Vonnegut found oil paint “such a commitment,” and watercolors “too bland, too weak,” but he loved the “brilliant colors” of Magic Markers.
I drew sketches on a tablet at the beginning of writing “Cape Misfortune” to help immerse myself into the the world(s) of the book. They can be characters, maps, locations or anything, really. Here are a few…
“Welcome to beautiful Cape Misfortune. Come for the rugged coastline and unspoiled beaches. Stay for the quaint customs and friendly welcome.” Just don’t ask about the people who are going missing…
Oh the magic of books. What would life be without them? More importantly, where would we be without their authors? We take for granted all of the dreamed up stories on our bookshelves and iPads. We forget about all of the work, love and struggles that goes into each word.
Today on the Justin Alcala blog, I’m excited to interview Solstice Publishing author, Henry Anderson. Henry Anderson is a former news reporter who has written for national UK newspapers. He spent time as a farmhand in Australia before working in publishing and journalism. His current novels, “Cape Misfortune” and “The Mouth” are fantastic tales available on amazon. But before you pick them up, let’s learn a little bit about the man behind the stories. Let’s learn about the talented Henry Anderson.
Thanks for joining us Henry. I wanted to start out by asking about the great journeys you’ve taken to get where you are. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I suppose in the old days pilgrimages involved seeing sacred relics like a piece of a saint’s finger. It made things seem much more real. Similarly an artefact like a book or the page of a handwritten manuscript makes the writer seem less remote. Seeing Shakespeare’s birthplace was amazing. I was lucky enough to study at the same college at Oxford University as Oscar Wilde. I visited his grave in Paris. We used to wear green carnations in his honour on exam days.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Take a step back and think about whether other people will find your writing relevant or important!
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Self-doubt is the enemy of most art. On a bad day the words look terrible.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You have the ability to get something published. Stop procrastinating and get on with it.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I wrote a play once and stood at the back of the audience on the nights it was performed. It was incredible to watch people being so involved with the story.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Nothing, unless you are writing autobiography. I suppose if you admire someone you might try and do justice to them. If you feel someone has mistreated you there is always the villain.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a screenplay, several short stories and two unfinished novels kicking about. I hope to return to them one day.
What did you edit out of this book?”
Anything that didn’t advance the story. I find if I stray off the path, description or dialogue loses meaning or relevance.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I suffer from a chronic illness called myalgic encephalomyelitis. There are a few hidden references to that. They don’t make any difference to the story but they add a bit of depth for me. I suppose the trick is not to be too self-indulgent.
What was your hardest scene to write?
There is a scene in the book where the characters are travelling astrally, out of the body, over the Pacific. That was difficult. It was the first part of the story that was out-and-out fantasy. There is a devil sitting on my shoulder that is scornful about straying from realism. It’s now one of my favourite scenes.
Henry, what advice do you have for unpublished writers?
The Internet has changed the literary landscape. There is less stigma about self-publishing now. I haven’t self-published yet but would do so in the future rather than hang on to a manuscript for years. You have to roll with the punches and move on.
Henry, thanks so much for joining us on the blog. You can learn more about Henry on his website. All links are provided below. And please be sure to pick up Henry’s latest novel, “Cape Misfortune” available on amazon. .
I’ve just spent some time in the Tough Luck Lounge, hosted by the delightful Lois Crockett, author of “Tough Luck Lane.”
Welcome One and All to the Tough Luck Lounge, your virtual Tiki Bar in the Tough Luck world. Let’s grab a bar stool and have Stacey Jennifer Longacre, our bartender and drunk-wrangler extraordinaire, pour us a couple (on the house, as always).
We have a very special guest author here with us today… he’s hopped ‘cross The Pond from Merrie Olde England to grace our humble Tiki Hut…
…Cheers! Toasting the very handsome author HENRY ANDERSON! Welcome!
Tough Luck Lounge (TLL): How long have you been published? What titles have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.
HENRY ANDERSON: Thank you for inviting me to the “Tough Luck Lounge!” Solstice Publishing released my first book, “The Mouth,” in 2016. The same publisher released “Cape Misfortune,” a few days ago. So I’m roughly two and a half years into the journey ofbeing a published author – and still have to pinch myself!
TLL: Tell us a little bit about your books — what genre you write, if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress.
HENRY ANDERSON: I am a fantasy writer, so far. My work tends to explore the space between the “real world” and other, imagined worlds. My locations and characters are grounded in reality, but scary supernatural forces are at work!
My latest book “Cape Misfortune” was published a few days ago. It’s the story of a sheriff’s deputy in the Pacific Northwest who slowly uncovers a dangerous mystery. My first book “The Mouth” was about a dystopian reality with a portal that lead the young hero into our “real” world.
TLL: What are your goals as a writer? What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
HENRY ANDERSON: My goal would be to entertain people and stir their imagination. I love to immerse myself in the world of a book. It would be great if I could create an imaginative world people could inhabit for a while.
TLL: What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
HENRY ANDERSON: I would like everyone who enjoys imaginative writing to give my books a try! I would like to attract everyone! I suppose I’m a bit of a geek, so maybe my interest in sci-fi and fantasy bleeds into my fiction.
TLL: What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
HENRY ANDERSON: I was lucky enough initially to find a publisher, but it’s totally okay to self-publish nowadays. Also, avoid any publisher that asks you for money.
TLL: What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
HENRY ANDERSON: Sometimes it’s hard to schedule writing time around the day job, particularly to begin with. I had cancer (I’m now clear) and it finally convinced me to make a serious effort to get published. I also have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), which means I have to rest a lot.
TLL: Wow… you’ve had some challenges to overcome. Let’s ask Stacey to draw another couple more and we can toast to your good health… now, and in the future. Thank you Stacey! Cheers!
Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.
HENRY ANDERSON: I trained as a journalist. Reporting news teaches you to write in a way that is understandable to everyone reading it, to be concise, and not to use long words if a short one will do!
TLL: What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
HENRY ANDERSON: I think a lot of writers doubt their abilities on bad days. It seems unreal, sitting at a desk, that people will one day be reading and connecting with what you are dreaming up. But incredibly that is what happens.
TLL: Your hobbies and interests besides writing? What do you like to do for fun?
HENRY ANDERSON: I really enjoy oil painting. You get the same feeling of creative satisfaction as you do with writing. I also enjoy archery occasionally. I read a lot. I’m a sucker for box sets!
TLL: Where would we find you out and about?
HENRY ANDERSON: Probably frequenting coffee shops typing into my laptop. Also in the countryside. Periods of illness indoors have given me a love of the great outdoors.
TLL: What is your favorite food, color, dog/cat/pet?
HENRY ANDERSON: I had bowel cancer so I’ve given up on red meat. I eat a lot of fish now. I was brought up with cats so I’m a cat guy.
TLL: What do you like to read? What are you reading now?
HENRY ANDERSON: I like reading about history. I just finished “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, which looks at the history of our species. I’m listening to Bob Brier’s excellent Great Courses lectures on Ancient Egypt. I like travel books and recently enjoyed Robert Macfarlane’s “The Old Ways.” Fiction-wise I’m half-way through Ben Aaronovitch’s “Rivers of London” series.
TLL: I love to study Ancient Civilizations, especially Egypt, so we have a common interest there.