Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Guest Author Interview: C.J. Henderson + Giveaway!
Please welcome today's guest author C.J. Henderson! C.J. is the author of many short stories and novels, including Brooklyn Knight and Central Park Knight.
EJ: When did you begin writing?
CJ: My earliest memories, actually, are of telling stories to the other kids around the street light at night. In the 8th grade, someone said, "you should start writing stuff down." And I did. I did that until I exited college in 1973, at which point someone said, "you should send stuff to publishers." And I did. So, the writing began in the mid-sixties. I don't honestly know when the storytelling began. Selling started in the mid-seventies. That was about 300 short stories and 70 books and/or novels ago. More answer than you gave question, but old people ... you know ... we ramble.
EJ: What brought you to the paranormal genre?
CJ: The first work that really took off for me were hardboiled mystery stories. At the same time I sold my first mystery novel, I had also started toying with the idea of a supernatural detective. Basically taking my same main character, but doing a "what if" with him. What if he came across a case that had a horrific, horrors beyond kind of explanation at its heart?
I got the idea basically in reaction to reading HP Lovecraft. It was a kind of ... why doesn't anyone do something? Call the cops, get the army, hire a bodyguard, pick up a baseball bat? Yeah, I know I'm gonna die, but at least I'm going out swinging!
Yes, we all know that Lovecraft was ahead of his time and his tales ending with the hero stammering, "the horror, the horror," and then swooning just before they get eaten was something that no one had ever seen before, and that he had all manner of reasons for doing so. But ... 75 years later, people were still writing the same stories as if it were fresh. I was sick of it, and a lot of unreality I saw in horror ... especially movies. No one seemed to be looking at things realistically, trying to put themselves in the place of characters who were actually experiencing the things going on around them and not simply responding to plot point cues.
Anyway, I stumbled into this virgin territory before even the X-Files came along, and I've kind of been there ever since.
EJ: If you could be any paranormal or have any one supernatural talent, what would it be? Why?
CJ: I'd probably want to have the abilities of my character Lai Wan. She's a psychometrist who can read past histories from the slightest contact. Her powers caused her a certain amount of grief while she was learning to get them under control, but after appearing in a number of novels, comics and short stories, she's gotten to the point where she's the boss.
Why? First, she's probably the most realistic character I have. I can believe in her power. And, in many ways, even though it's the simplest supernatural ability I've given any of my characters, it is extremely powerful. She routinely thwarts gods and monsters with something little more than female intuition or the old "Mommy always knows what you're doing." Since I live in a world without much in the way of horrific menaces to combat, to know when people were lying to me, to be able to shove their weaseling attempts to mislead me down their throats, yes ... I'd enjoy that. Would I become isolated? Sure, but at my age, to be able to drive away the cheats and liars and other charlatans ... yes, I'd pay the price.
EJ: Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.
CJ: Well, that would be Central Park Knight, less than a month off now. It's the sequel to Brooklyn Knight, and so far, the folks who have read the first seem to like it quite a lot, and those who have read both have reported to me that they like the second one even better. There seems to be a consistent sort of agreement that while the certain amount of set-up which has to appear in any first novel was not over done in BK, the fact that there isn't any in CPK makes it more enjoyable. The reader knows who Piers Knight is, and can jump right in.
The book also gets more into his personal life, answers a number of questions set up in the first book, and doesn't follow the pattern of the first. I myself don't like getting the same old thing in book after book of a series. I won't name anyone living, because that's rude, but take the old Doc Savage novels from the pulp era. The main writer for the series actually had a formula, and the same thing happen in every novel chapter by chapter. Menace introduced. Meet Doc and his crew. Someone dies. Someone is kidnapped ... et cetera. Granted, I didn't notice when I gobbled them down at age 12, but I'm hoping my audience is somewhat older.
In BK, we see Knight gather all manner of magical devices from throughout the museum in which he works and then use them against the menace. In many series, that would then be the formula for every book. Meet the menace, bring in Knight, he studies the problem, gathers the right tools from across the eras of humanity--most likely giving a history lecture on the Druids or Incas or someone--and then dispatches the menace.
I purposely set up the gathering scene, then destroyed all the gathered items. I write without an outline, and I know my subconscious did that to me on purpose ... "go ahead," it sneered at me, "get him out of trouble now." And I did.
I also played with things by giving him a new sidekick. Again, series seem to assemble the same cast and then those are the people we see every book, and they can't die, and blahblahblah ...
Knight's sidekick in the first book is his summer intern at the museum. This was done on purpose so every book we would have to have a new sidekick.
I realize it might seem as if I've strayed from answering the question, but I don't believe I have. What I'm trying to get across is that I believe folks will enjoy the second book because it's not just a rehash of the first. The tone is different, the menace, the characters ... some return, some don't. Some folk died in the first. More die in the second. And, if I go on much further I'm going to give away too much. So, let me just say that so far, those who have only read the second have enjoyed it, and those who have read both like it as much or better.
And, you can't believe how happy that makes an author. I'm one of those guys who has very little ability to love something I've done. Like Groucho Marx used to say, "if I could do it, how good could it be?" And, now I am straying from the question, so I'll shut up.
EJ: If your book(s) were being made into a movie, who would you cast for the leading roles? Why?
CJ: Since I have so many different series, let's stick with Knight for this interview.
The God's honest truth, I have tried to cast the Piers Knight series in my head a thousand times, and I just can't do it. Not even if I bring in dead actors. The fellow who plays Dr. Who in the second/third/fourth seasons of the new run comes close to Knight (I assume he could do a decent American accent) , but then I think Hugo Weaving would be good, too. And Edward Norton. I simply can't choose.
A young Katherine Hepburn could make a good Bridget. The role takes the ability to project intelligence, humor, self-control in the face of terror, fear of going mad, wonder, feistiness, it's a part with a lot of range. And, she has to be tall. A lot of today's young actresses don't get too many chances to show all that. And Ms. Portman, excellent as she is, is short.
And, I could start getting into the secondary characters, but since I'm afraid your readers all stopped following along long ago, perhaps I shouldn't make this another 1,000 word answer.
Central Park Knight (Piers Knight #2) by C.J. Henderson
Professor Piers Knight is the Brooklyn Museum’s very own Indiana Jones. His specialties include lost civilizations, arcane cultures, and more than a little bit of the history of magic and mysticism. What his contemporaries don't know is that in addition to being a scholar of all these topics, he is also proficient in the uses of magical artifacts.
Knight receives a chilling message from Tian Lu, a former lover and an agent for the Chinese government. Years ago, they made a frightening discovery at an archeological dig when out of the depths rose… a living, fire-breathing dragon. Now, the dragons are waking from their slumber before their scheduled time. And one particularly diabolical dragon is set on eliminating the others and taking over the world. As civilization plunges into panic, Knight, Lu, Knight’s seventeen-year-old techie intern George Rainert, and an untrustworthy dragon ally must use all their resources— magical and otherwise—to stop the destruction before it’s too late.
Thank you C.J. for joining us here today at From the Shadows!
To learn more about C.J. Henderson and his books, please visit his website.
Don't miss E.J.'s review of the urban fantasy anthology Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives including C.J. Henderson's short story Impossible Love.
**Piers Knight Series 2 Book Giveaway**
We are giving away one copy each of Brooklyn Knight and Central Park Knight, the first two books in the Piers Knight urban fantasy series by C.J. Henderson, to one lucky winner!
To enter, please leave a comment on this post including your email address (so we may contact you if you win). You do not have to be a follower of this blog to enter (though I always appreciate a follow!). This giveaway is open to US mailing addresses. Giveaway ends May 11th midnight EST.
C.J. Henderson is also offering, for a limited time, a link to free reads on his website here.