MARK HENRY has been making shit up for as long as he can remember; so it should come as no surprise to anyone close to him that he’s finally putting the poo to paper. He recently traded a career in the helping profession to scar minds with his fiction. Mark attributes his ideas to premature exposure to horror movies, and/or witnessing adult cocktail parties in the ’70s. His development has been further skewed by surviving earthquakes, typhoons, and two volcanic eruptions. Despite being disaster prone, he somehow 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 two furry monsters that think they’re children.
His first novel, HAPPY HOUR OF THE DAMNED, explores the mysterious and comical world of sentient zombies. He’s busy working on the sequel, ROAD TRIP OF THE LIVING DEAD, as you read this. Right now. I mean it.
Mark is the co-founder of The South Sound Algonquin writer’s group in Washington, a member of the Willamette Writers, the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, and the Fangs, Fur and Fey online writer’s community.
1. What makes you think you can write?
I can write? Are you sure? How do you know? If I’d been told sooner, I might be famous by now. Thanks a lot. Had I actually been famous and enjoy compliments, I might have taken you out for a fancy small-portioned meal served on a big plate, but as it is, I’m not at all famous and 7-Eleven will have to do. How do you like your Big Bite? Chili? Cheese? Moderately fresh?
2. Clearly you need some sort of creative outlet to keep you out of trouble. If it weren’t writing what would it be?
I thought about a career in sand Mandala design, but hate the idea of so much time on my knees. Plus, what the hell are they anyway? Let’s see, what would I do if I couldn’t write? Hmmmm. I always thought about painting, not oils or watercolors, though. Something bigger. I enjoy seeing large-scale painting, and there is a house down the street that’s showing some wear. Seriously, I’d be an architect, no question.
3. Who or what influences your work?
I’m really a pop culture vulture, I watch, read, and absorb everything, always have. When I finished HAPPY HOUR OF THE DAMNED and read back, I could pick out pieces of John Waters, Bret Easton Ellis, Entertainment Tonight, George Romero, Twix commercials, Christopher Moore, and a little Candace Bushnell (a whole lot actually). They’re completely mutilated, unlikely to walk again, but they’re definitely there. The short one-line answer is this: my work is influenced by thirty-nine years of pop culture filtered through a dirty mind.
4. Do you remember a favorite ghost story or scary urban legend from childhood? Well, spill it.
My mother used to tell me a story about her childhood home being at the top of a hill overlooking a graveyard. She said that at night you could see lights moving between the moss-draped oaks and charnel houses. We had a painting of that house in our hall, still do. Sometimes, when I look close enough, I think I can see the lights in that far off field, and there’s a little girl hiding in the upstairs window, just behind the curtain.
As for urban legends, I gotta go with “the hook”. I love the ones that have the most regional variations. Mine ends with the boyfriend’s nails scraping across the roof of the car. If we ever meet, feel free to tell me your version.
5. Name one thing we might not know about you and would be surprised to find out (keep it clean too, you dirty bird this is a family blog).
I tend to tell people just about everything, so it’s really tough to dig something new out (did that sound dirty?). How about this…I’m a great cook. You haven’t lived until you’ve had my curried squash soup. That said: I’m a terrible baker. Awful.
6. I tell people that if they like _______, then they’ll love me.
This one’s tricky. You hate to compare yourself to big names, but I don’t know a whole lot of people who are doing comedy in traditional Urban Fantasy. I mean there are a lot of humorous characters, but as a whole this genre is not hunting for laughs. So. I’m gonna throw out some authors that I really admire, ones that are mashing comedy into unusual and sometimes dark, sticky places. People like Christopher Moore, A. Lee Martinez, David Sosnowski, and Mario Acevedo. Oh…and the members of the League of Reluctant Adults, of course. Heh heh.
7. Since you make stuff up all the time, I assume you were a great liar as a child. Tell us one.
I wasn’t just a great liar; I was exceptional, one of the last truly important liars of the Twentieth Century, along with Patty Hearst and Nixon. Kids came from miles away to purchase even the whitest of my lies. So this one’s a freebie. I can’t guarantee its freshness or quality. This one will work for most adolescent boys, who’ve established sarcasm as a means of communication.
Mother (knocks on bathroom door): You’ve been in there for fifteen minutes, what are you doing?
Kid: Just masturbating, Mom. Jeez. (tone is key)
Mother: All right sweetie, take your time.