Everything You Wanted to Know About Mark Henry
(But Were Afraid to Ask…)
The Viet Cong launch the Tet Offensive. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In socks it to ‘em as America’s top TV show. Nixon wins the presidency of our great nation. And amidst it all, Mark Henry shot out of his mother’s va-jay-jay (I’m sure other stuff happened, too, but I’d hate to get all grim and shit). From birth, he bounced from state to state, and country to country like a hobo. The only child of a couple of vagrants (read a young civil service worker and his book-loving wife), Mark moved every few years for his father’s job and learned quick to use humor to fit in to frequently new social situations.
The Henry clan finally settled in the Pacific Northwest, where Mark got hooked up with the worst sort of friends much to his parent’s
dismay. The history gets blurry in the early 80s, but what we do know is that Mark got hooked on John Waters’ movies, blue-black hair dye and possibly the most dangerous substance known to man, sarcasm (yes yes, meth is also quite dangerous, as is napalm, but in the wrong hands, sarcasm is deadly).
His development was further skewed by surviving earthquakes, typhoons, and two volcanic eruptions, Mark developed a dark sense of humor, disturbing both his parents, neighbors, teachers (pretty much everybody). So, it’s no wonder that when he grew up he’d be a comedian.
Only that didn’t happen.
First, he had to acquire way too much expensive education for far too few Benjamins as a psychotherapist. 12 years of helping people was plenty. It was after those dark times that Mark took up writing. With the encouragement of a fancy NYC editor, Mark set about writing his first novel and sold it and two sequels five months later. That book was Happy Hour of the Damned (then titled the Undead Socialite’s Guide to Nightlife) a crass little zomedy in urban fantasy clothing, heavy on the ridicule (duh!). He’s currently working on the first book in a new series about an incubus with an erectile dysfunction.
Mark is the co-founder of both The South Sound Algonquin writer’s group in Washington and the highly regarded (and/or degraded) League of Reluctant Adults, an online cabal of disturbed urban fantasy and paranormal romance writers. He’s a member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association and the Fangs, Fur and Fey online writer’s community. Mark will pretty much join anything that will help him in his goal to procrastinate at least 80% of his work day. Won’t you help?
Despite being a disaster magnet, Mark continues to live and breathe. Residing in the oft maligned, yet not nearly as soggy as you’d think, Pacific Northwest, with his wife and three furry monsters that think they’re children.
How the HELL did you sell that shit?
I pitched the story that would become Happy Hour of the Damned at a writer’s conference directly to an editor, without a word being written, mind you. It wasn’t even a long pitch, just a measly elevator one; two sentences max. But, I got a request for a partial manuscript, which I had to churn out in about a month, followed by a full request. I wrote the rest in about 6 weeks and submitted the first readable draft. How’s that for naïve? When the editor emailed to let me know that she was sending the manuscript up to her senior editor, I figured I better get an agent.
Tracked down some awesome choices from book acknowledgements in the fantasy section at Borders, wrote a quick query and was offered representation a couple of days later. Jim McCarthy (Dystel and Goderich) had that book out quick and within a week he called me and let me know that we had two offers. I was floored. I think I might have had a panic attack. The next day we had a deal. The whole process, from idea to sale, took less than 6 months. It was craziness. I’ve really been blessed.
What’s up with an Amanda Feral movie?
No movie. But! Showtime has picked up the option on Happy Hour of the Damned along with Double Feature Films for a possible TV series. At last word, a writer has been attached and is working on the script for the pilot episode.
Where did the idea come from? How did it develop into a story?
I’ve always loved zombies, in movies, fiction, whatever. Back in the 80s, Douglas E. Winter wrote a pair of stories for anthologies that included the perspective of the sentient undead rather than the mindless shambling variety, Less than Zombie and Bright Lights Big Zombie, based, obviously, on two of the biggest novels of that decade, Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero and Jay McInerny’s Bright Lights Big City. I always wanted more but further stories never materialized. When I decided to write my first novel, it was a natural fit. I asked myself what if the Sex and the City girls ended up rising from the dead with a craving for flesh? What would that be like? I wrote a short story called An Acquired Taste—the first appearance of Amanda and Wendy—that was published in a small press anthology and really started the ball rolling.
Do you have a favorite author you read? Are they an influence on your writing?
I love Christopher Moore and have been making my way through his books for the past couple of years. His humor is this absolutely brilliant, no-holds barred stuff and I can only hope mine bears a resemblance. In Joe, I’m attempting the kind of multiple narrative structure that Moore employs so comfortably. I also love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next and Liz Williams Detective Inspector Chen, both series that just blew me away in world building and humor. And as far as urban fantasy goes, just wait til y’all read Stacia Kane’s Unholy Ghosts. It’s going to blow people away. I find myself reading a lot of humorous personal essays, too. David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Jen Lancaster and Laurie Notaro are all really fun reads.
Do you have any bad writing habits?
Tons of ‘em. I’m lazy as hell, and as any writer can tell you, too much time between writing sessions is like starting over. I start over, a lot. I’m an incessant e-mail checker and internet procrastinator. Blogging is both fun and terrible for my work. I can easily spend five hours prepping and posting a blog and then have so much less time Plus, I have a tendency to interject my filthy vocabulary into my narrative. Maybe you’ve noticed?
What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?
After that last question, let me get hypocritical on your ass.
Sit your ass in a chair in front of your computer and get that shit out of your head. Also, read Stephen King’s On Writing, he gives way better advice.