Interview with author Brian Henry

Welcome all to another fascinating #fridayguestinterview! So glad you could join us here on The Writing Piazza, where writers gather to discuss their craft. Today, we are joined by the illustrious author Brian Henry. Let’s start with a bit of an introduction.

Brian Henry author pic

Brian:
My name’s Brian K. Henry, and the K stands for Keith in case you’re wondering. I also go by Brian Henry without the K., but I discovered there’s a poet named Brian Henry who’s pretty well-published, so I thought I’d use the K to avoid any confusion. So if you’re looking for the poet guy, that’s not me. (Although I have written some poems).

I’ve been writing stories since about 3rd grade. I’ve always written humorous and satirical stories. They can be in different genres, but there’s always been a heavy comical element in almost everything I’ve written. The first story I remember writing was about my 3rd grade teacher and it was a superhero parody, so I’ve done comedy from a young age. I’ve written a lot over the years, but I didn’t really get serious about pursuing writing till about 14 years ago. Then I started writing a bunch of comedy screenplays (which were not produced) and I’ve transitioned over to writing fiction about seven years ago.

The Writing Piazza:
So fun! I love going back and reading things I wrote when I was younger. I still vaguely remember third grade, I bet a story written around that time would be lots of fun. Maybe you’ll post it one day just for nostalgia’s sake. 😉 But let’s fast forward to your current books. Will you tell us a bit about them?

Brian
I’ve completed three novels and one book of flash fiction or very short stories. My latest book is I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter, which is a YA novel about Devin, a 16-year-old barista who realizes he has the ability to see spirits. He’s a very moody guy and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with ghosts, but his friends eventually persuade him to investigate some local paranormal activity. A lot of the humor comes from the characters. I like to come up with very colorful characters, so his two friends are very quirky. One is Clive, a wannabe classical composer who writes some pretty weird and experimental music and the other is Rex, a kind of a hyperactive tech head who gets into all the ghost hunting gadgetry.

The Writing Piazza:
That sounds like an interesting and fun read! I love a memorable character too and it sounds like you’ve got a number of them in your story. It’s easy to write average characters but I’ve always been fond of the quirky ones. They are the ones that usually capture my heart.

You also wrote a couple other books, tell us about them.

Brian:
My other two novels are House of Prension, which is a YA fantasy novel about a young member of a royal family who has to prove himself on a quest and Space Command and the Planet of the Bejewelled Concubines, which is a science fiction parody. It sounds pretty sexy, but it’s really PG.

The Writing Piazza:
Where do your short stories fit into all that?

Brian:
Then there’s Space Command and the Planets of Doom, which is set in the same Space Command world and is a bunch of super-short stories about bizarre, failed space missions.

The Writing Piazza:
Ah, that’s cool that your short stories tie into the same universe as your novel. I’m about to start working on something similar so hats off to you for pulling it off! I think it’s so hard to write humor, but maybe it’s just because I have a weird sense of humor. I try to write funny things and the response is usually crickets. haha (Or I have to laugh at my own jokes.) So I’m always in awe of writers like you who can do it.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to getting your books published? I’m always fascinated by these stories. No two paths are the same it seems. And there’s so much to learn so I always love to hear the response to this question from my published guests.

Brian:
All of my stuff so far is self-published, so in that sense, it hasn’t been a very eventful journey so far. I queried a lot of agents and publishers, but it was hard to generate interest. So I ended up publishing a lot of stuff first on Wattpad. That was a great experience.

So right now, my books are all available on Kindle and most are also at Smashwords. The self-publishing gives you a lot of control and independence, but of course it’s totally up to you to get the word out about your books.

The Writing Piazza:
It really is a hard industry to break into. More and more authors are taking a path similar to yours. We are seeing more and more that self-publishing is pulling itself (albeit slowly) up out of obscurity and gaining serious traction. I remember years ago, when I considered self-publishing, self-pubbed authors weren’t taken seriously at all. But now with things like CreateSpace and Wattpad, the legitimacy of self-published authors is on the rise.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Wattpad can you tell us a little about it?

Brian:
Wattpad is a pretty amazing community of writers and reading fans. You can post any kind of writing there and get immediate reaction from the readers. A lot of people post first drafts and works in progress and you get ideas from the audience about how to revise your work. Most of the writers and readers are teenagers or twenty-somethings, so if you’re in that age range you can definitely find lots of people with common interests. Another great aspect of Wattpad is that it’s easy to post continuing stories with multiple parts, so you can write a serial or a novel and build up your audience as you go along. And of course, everything is free.

The Writing Piazza:
I’ve been curious about Wattpad for a while now. I’ve been meaning to check it out. I know you have a pretty substantial following on there, can you tell us a bit about how you built up your readership there?

Brian:
I published some of my short stories on Wattpad and some of the staff there really liked them, so they offered to present some of my novels as featured stories. That gave me a lot of exposure to a big audience, since the featured stories are displayed prominently in the different genre sections. Without being a featured story I don’t think I would have received nearly so many ‘reads,’ but you can still find a lot of fans on Wattpad by following other writers, commenting on other stories and just being active on the site.

The Writing Piazza:
Thanks, I’m sure a number of my fellow authors are on Wattpad and will appreciate the tips to building up their readership there! I may just need to jump on there myself just to finally see it firsthand. 🙂 What do you think are some of the pros of posting your work on there?

Brian:
The audience there at Wattpad is great and they give you a lot of feedback. I got lots of reaction to I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter and it was almost all positive, so that gave me a lot of encouragement to keep going.

The Writing Piazza:
Feedback is super important. I think that would be worth the time to post just to gain that essential feedback. If any of you writers out there are looking for comments on your work, you now have a good place to post to get readers’ reactions. Those critiques are what will really help you polish your manuscripts.

And a question I love to ask because I always learn a lot from the answers: What’s something you know now, as a published author, that you wish you knew before you started?

Brian:
I think if you want to reach a large audience you have to build a lot of structure and momentum into your story and keep the plot moving forward at a good rate. You don’t want too many digressions, slow patches and rambling segments that don’t connect up to the main plot. I can write in a very elaborate and complex style when I want to, but one thing the screenwriting helped me learn was to structure a story rigorously so that every scene matters and you don’t waste a lot of words. You can write in any style you like, but I think those are important guidelines to follow if you’re hoping to reach the mainstream audience.

The Writing Piazza:
Wow, that was all seriously great advice that I could not agree with more! I always love it when my guests give practical advice to help other writers improve their craft. Thank you for sharing those words of wisdom with us.

We’re just about to wrap up this interview and I can’t let you go without asking, are you currently working on a new book?

Brian:
Yes, I’m actually working on a sequel to I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter. In this story, Devin investigates a haunting that affects a fellow student at Grey Bluff High. Devin’s still learning how to deal with his supernatural talents, so he has to learn more about this spectral world at the same time that he’s getting to the bottom of this haunting, and also deal with girlfriend problems.

The Writing Piazza:
Sounds intriguing! I was thinking that the first Ghost Hunter book seemed to lend itself to a series so that’s exciting to see that you’ve got another book in the works for it. 🙂

How about if those reading this interview would like to connect with you or find you on Wattpad. Can you give us some marvelous links so they can do that?

Brian:
Here are the links:

http://www.wattpad.com/user/abstractplane My Wattpad profile, where you can read a bunch of free stories.

https://twitter.com/brianhenry63 My Twitter page, where you can follow me along with 12,900 other lucky people!

http://amzn.to/1CLMRvF My Amazon page, where you can find my Kindle books.

The Writing Piazza:
Thank you so much for joining us Brian. And Brian and I both want to thank all you out-of-this-world visitors who have tuned in to read this interview. You are the reason we take the time to do these interviews and we are beyond grateful that you have taken the time to read them. If you’re looking for other kick-butt interviews, we have plenty here on The Writing Piazza. You can see our list of guests HERE. I hope your weekend is just terrific!

Until we meet again.

 

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