10 September 2010

getting to know you Thursdays with Henry Brown and a review

Today I am interviewing Henry Brown who I met at the edgy fiction board. I got to read his book Hell and Gone.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? 
I'll cut and paste from my blog profile: I'm a Christian (of the non-wimpy variety), a patriotic American, a veteran, a Zionist, a creative type (yeah, I know: these qualities don't often go together), a reforming cynic, and a criminal genius mastermind masquerading as an overworked, underpaid blue-collar drone. 

2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books? 
The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer has been with me since I was nine years old. At first I just read the Golden Age comic reprints inside. Later I delved into Feiffer's multi-chapter introduction. Over the years I re-read it several times, and understood a little more each time. And appreciated it a little more each time. I liked the Hardy Boys, but there was an obscure juvenile detective series I liked even better called The Three Investigators, with forewords by Alfred Hitchcock. In fact, one of my first prose efforts was inspired by them, to some degree. I loved The Fastest Funnycar by Patrick Williams, and Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson. Those were some of my favorites in prose. You don't have room on your blog for me to list my favorite comic books. 

3. Do you have a favourite Genre to both read and right write? 
I've enjoyed books from just about every genre. I almost never read horror or chick-lit (but have read some romances), and don't read gay/lesbian ever. I usually go through phases--this month I might want to read epic fantasy, next month classic sci-fi, this time next year a western, or a war novel, or non-fiction, or a mystery, or whatever. It's kind of the same way when I write. Whatever genre, though, it tends to be male-oriented. I'm a man and like to do man stuff, read about man stuff, and write from the male perspective (though lately I've been broadening my horizons just a tad).  (Jenny here I am not a big chit lit fan either some is good but alot is not my cup of tea)

4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you? 
Growing up, I just read what I could find that I liked, with no consideration of who the author was. In fact, I rarely paid attention to authorship, in the early years. I read a whole lot from different authors, including genre fiction and series fiction--probably most of it by authors dismissed as "hacks."
I'm sure I was influenced, but by whom I'm not sure--there were just too many sources to pin them all down. I know Edgar Rice Burroughs' combination of exotic locations and heroic adventure made an impression on me. I was dazzled by some of Erle Stanley Gardner's better whodunnits. The comic book writer Doug Moench is a fantastic storyteller--his medium just happens to be graphic fiction.
As an adult, I tracked down some info on the writer himself, read an interview of him...and discovered, predictably, that his politics are in lock-step with pretty much every other artistic type. Even so, he's a brilliant storyteller. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the greatest author ever: God/the Holy Spirit. Growing up, I thought christianity was wimpy, and even the men I saw at church struck me as effiminate. But when I finally did start reading the Bible on my own, it was eye-opening how parts of it are so raw, they would never be read in most churches.
There are parts of Hell and Gone which you could say pay homage to the book of Judges. One of the characters is named after a certain left-handed judge and, in fact, his prowess in combat is more like an annointing than the result of training. There is one scene I intentionally meant to resonate with Gideon's preparations before attacking the Midianites. And, of course, I quote passages about Samson, since something called "the Samson complex" hangs over the characters throughout the plot (in fact, I had titled this book "the Samson Doctrine" at one point).

5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
By my teenage years I was already writing fiction (horrendous drivel, but fiction just the same). At some point early in my military service I knew for sure I wanted to be an author.

6. How did you go about becoming an author?
I battered my head against the New York publishing industry for years. All but two of the queries I submitted were rejected via form letter. Out of hundreds. My attitude was pretty snobby about self-publishing, POD and e-publishing for a few years as they were becoming the rage. There's a stigma still attached to anything that smells like "vanity publishing," and I'd had it beaten into me that legitimate, respectable authors wait for a breakthrough with a traditional publisher until they grow old and die unpublished, if necessary. My attitude began to change when I read some articles about the future of publishing. I finally asked myself why I was stagnating, beating my head against the proverbial brick wall, waiting to hitch a ride on a ship that's probably sinking. So I researched POD (Print On Demand) publishers until I found what I thought was the best one. I had a few finished novels, and submitted the one I assumed would be the most "commercial." At the time I still had some residual snobbery about electronic/digital publishing, but I eventually overcame that, too

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be? 
A film-maker; a musician; an A-10 pilot; a race driver; a used bookstore owner; a power-mad dictator of a resource-rich country somewhere with a perfect climate; a genius super-criminal mastermind...and a thousand other things. 

8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?
Unfortunately, I have no time for the other things I like to do. But if I did, I'd finish my project car and take it racing; shoot a few films; go camping and hunting frequently; play in a band; pick up another language or two; learn how to use some software programs; play a whole bunch of video and computer games; experiment with some inventions I've conceived; sleep at least eight hours a night...and the list goes on (bom-bom-bom, ba-bom-ba-bom-bom), the list goes on...

9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?
I'd love to visit the Holy Land. I also love traveling out West, from Oklahoma to California. I would live somewhere in between, if circumstances were different. 

10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?
Hmm. Well, one might be film maker John Milius, to discuss some of his work and maybe ideas I have for the big screen. Another would probably be Bible teacher Chuck Missler, to pick his brain a bit and ask questions not covered by his tapes and CDs. Maybe the third would be hot-rodder Lou Santiago, to see if I could get him interested in fabricating some custom parts for my car. ;-) 

Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will be coming out soon. Also where we can find you on the web.

My website is http://www.hell-and-gone.com/, and from there you can not only find out about my military thriller (Hell and Gone) and get a feel for it, but also follow links from there to pretty much everything else I do online, including my own new blog (twofistedblogger.blogspot.com). I have a blurb and mini-blurb about Hell and Gone on the website, but in essence it's the story of some real people with real flaws hastily thrown together for a desperate mission with an improbable chance for success.

Some readers have voiced a desire to read a sequel--which I hadn't anticipated. So I've been toying with a couple ideas...

Virtual Pulp: Tales of High Adventure, Low Adventure, and Misadventure is the first issue of my cyber-pulp magazine which, like some of the classic pulps of yesteryear, is a novel-length anthology of shorter adventure fiction. Genres in this first issue include fantasy ("epic" or sword & sorcery plus a humorous sci-fi flavored satire); historical; and an aviation adventure in a post-apocalyptic setting. Themes include honor/brotherhood; forbidden love; the evolution of folklore and language; and liberty vs. slavery. Some of the tales are stand-alone, some feature characters I intend to revisit in future issues. Virtual pulp has a page on my site also. So far, it's only available in e-book, though. I have plenty of ideas for more books, but no time to write them (especially with me now trying to market). But I've got a start on Virtual Pulp #2, and the first few chapters of an alternate history novel which should be a lot of fun.

My Review of Hell and Gone:
I found this book to be very insightful in many ways. There are three main sides to this story, The americans, Israelis and the Sudanese army. In this story Henry explains how some suicide bombers come about which I found interesting and after reading the passage could fully understand. We also see why Israelis feel like they do about other countries and how different solutions haven't always helped them. There were times some of the Americans were quite put out with what the was being said about America and some of the process they had been involved in. I learnt quite alot from this. Being I am not an America I could actually identify with some of what was being said. I got quite involved in the story and although it is a war story I found I was cheering for the good guys. Also references to the south of Sudan which is christian was interesting as at our church we have had dealings with some of the missions there and heard first hand how some of the issues there.
I also found it hypocritical at times what the ones in charge of the Islamic section were doing and one scene in particular really got to me it goes against what they teach and what they say they believe but seems is quite common. (I am not going to say more when you read the book you will understand what I am referring to). If you like military books or fast action this is a great read. If you dont like war or military or can't deal with killing in a book I would suggest its not for you.  

1 comment:

Hank Brown said...

Hi Jenny:

Just wanted to thank you publicly, as well, for taking the time to read/review my book and feature me on your blog. You've got a nice blog and this whole process been a real pleasant one for me.

God bless!

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