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
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
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."