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C. J. Henderson

C. J. Henderson
BY OTHER MEANS
 A Meal Fit For God

Biography of


05-11-2011: MilSciFi.com interviews author C. J. Henderson, contributor to the anthology, By Other Means, book three in the Defending The Future series.

MilSciFi: "Welcome back. Please tell us about your story, and what was the inspiration for it?"

Henderson: "This story, 'A Meal Fit for God,' is the fifth story in a series which was started for the first collection in the Defending the Future series, 'Breach the Hull.' In that first story, 'Shore Leave,' I introduced the ship, the Roosevelt, and some of its crew. It was meant to be a stand alone story, but as I said, this is the fifth story, and I have requests for three more before the end of the year, so as you can see, it just keeps growing.

At the time when I was asked to be part of 'Hull,' I had never even considered writing a scifi military story. I sweat trying to come up with a tale because the publisher and editor both were very good friends of mine. Finally, the inspiration for the story came from an interview I'd seen given by the great dancer/director, Gene Kelly. They asked him why he played sailors in so many of his movies, and he answered;

"Because the pants were so easy to dance in."

Suddenly, I had my idea. Why was I trying to write a blood and guts, high tech deep space war story when that wasn't my style? I thought 'On the Town' in outer space meets 'Abbott & Costello.' I had been wanting to write more comedy, I love musicals, so I wrote a scifi military musical romantic comedy. And ... luckily ... people liked it."

MilSciFi: "Each story is accompanied by a unique icon, can you tell us something about the relevance behind your own?"

Henderson: "It's the crew patch for members of the Roosevelt. It was designed by editor Mike McPhail, and colored by my daughter, Erica Henderson, artist of Baby's First Mythos, one time artist for The Venture Brothers, then Harmonics (Rock Bank), now works for Zenga. I put myself totally in their hands, and they created something I love (and proudly wear on a jacket my wife hates because I love my patch so much I've worn the thing to tatters)."

MilSciFi: "How did you become involved with the By Other Means project?"

Henderson: "I've been with the Defending the Future series since the beginning, and since either people like the Roosevelt stories, or the powers in charge just feel sorry for me, they keep asking me to be in the books, and I keep writing new stories. I like this crew, and the universe they play in, and so far have been happy to keep returning to it."

McPhail: (DTF Series Editor) "In all honesty, it was CJ's excitement and passion for his story that saved that very first book (BTH) from being scrapped. As the story goes, I was in poor health at the time, and the publisher that had proposed the project fell off the face of the Earth, leaving me to face the book's contributors. All I cared about by this point was not disappointing CJ. So we found a new home for the book (then found another home), and the rest is DTF history."

MilSciFi: "What tips would you given an aspiring military science fiction author?"

Henderson: "Do your best. Know your material. Just don't fake up something cobbled together from old Star Trek episodes. And, whatever you do, have a real story to tell. Whether it's a war story, a horror story, a mystery, or even something as mind-bogglingly preposterous as a scifi military romantic musical comedy, write it at your best level. Put everything you have into it. Whether you embrace the military whole-heartedly and pray to god for the safety of our troops, or think anyone who is a soldier is a vicious monster and a puppet of the military industrial complex, write your story flat out. Let your convictions show. You have no better chance of writing a good story than that.

MilSciFi: "Is military accuracy important to you, or can one simply 'fake' it?"

Henderson: "A little from column A, and some from column B. If you don't know anything about tactics, how weapons work, if you're not following the releases from the Navy on their new laser weapons, or the progress being made with rail guns, et cetera, then be careful. It's sad when you see idiotic things like space battles being fought as if they were on an ocean (2D) like in "Firefly," or the robot warriors in the theatrical Clone Wars movie where their computer minds couldn't come up with a simple flanking maneuver.

On the other hand, if you use a little common sense, like Gene Roddenbery, you can fake all kinds of nonsense. Granted, Classic Trek had the major necessary ingredient, good story telling, to keep people from thinking of things like ... gee, transporter technology ... if they have this, why is anyone ever sick for more than ten minutes, when all they'd have to do is send them through the transporter and filter out the germs, tumors, et cetera, in their system?

Accuracy is of keen importance to help maintain the reader's suspension of disbelief, but without a good, solid story it's effort put forth in the service of nothing much."

MilSciFi: "Have you been involved with any similar projects outside the series?"

Henderson: "Yes, Flying Pen Press has had me do Roosevelt stories for their 'Space' series (Space Horrors, Space Pirates, et cetera). Dark Quest books has asked for one for a new anthology, and several publishers are interested in collecting a book's worth of Roosevelt tales. So, I'll be doing these stories at least as long as it takes to come up with 80,000 words worth."

MilSciFi: "With your growing success as an author, do you plan to continue writing for the Defending the Future series?"

Henderson: "You never turn your back on the people that help make you. Not that my success has grown to the point where I think I'm in any way too big for the Defending the Future books (heck, one of the three stories I owe before the end of the year is another one for Mike). When I can't think of anything that will make a great story, then I'll stop. It would be bad enough to disappoint fans by stopping the series, but I really wouldn't want to disappoint then by turning in crappy stories. So, basically, as long as I can keep coming up with ideas I like, and Mike accepts them, I'll keep writing them."

MilSciFi: "Are there any upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?"

Henderson: "There's always something. I'm doing the first new novels for the pulp character, the Spider, in over 60 years. I've got a new urban fantasy series, Masters of Tarot, coming out from Dark Quest, which should also be a new game as well. I'm writing new stories of the Green Hornet for Moonstone, my Jack Hagee hardboiled PI novels are coming back into print ... oh, there's always something."

MilSciFi: "And what events do you have in the months ahead?"

Henderson: "I'll be premiering the book 'Hot & Steamy' at the Steampunk World's Fair on May 5,6,7. Then on Memorial Day Weekend I'll be premiering 'Central Park Knight,' the newest novel in my 'Brooklyn Knight' series at BaltiCon. I have two or three shows every month. The easiest way for folks to know where I'll be rearing my ugly head is simply to go to the NEWS section of www.cjhenderson.com. It lists all my shows and provides links to them."

MilSciFi: "How can our readers find out more about your work?"

Henderson: "Again, if they head over to the website, there are free short stories posted, an FAQ with the basics, and heck, they can just email me from there with any questions they might have. Any writer who doesn't talk with their fans doesn't deserve to have them."

MilSciFi: "Thank you for your time."
 


C. J. Henderson's website is:
 
www.cjhenderson.com

Dark Quest Books' website is:
http://www.darkquestbooks.com


 

FTC 16 CFR Part 255 Discloser:
Solicited by MilSciFi.com with no compensation.

 

Copyright 2011 Mike McPhail, All Rights Reserved

 

The views contained in this interview are those of the author, and
do not necessarily represent the views of MilSciFi.com.