Author Gary D. Henry Interview by Michelle M. Pillow (Originally published in Paranormal Underground Magazine)
Author Gary D. Henry Interview
Michelle M. Pillow, www.michellepillow.com
Gary D. Henry is the Vice-President of the Loudoun County Writers Association in Northern Virginia. When asked about his writing, he said, ďI have always had stories swimming around in my head but never had the desire to put them to paper until recently. I have had no formal training in the literary field, other than being a technical writer in a previous career. A friend suggested that I write his life story, which was a worthy pursuit, so I wrote the introduction, and he liked it, so I decided to continue. Now, two and a half years later, I am writing my 15th novel.Ē
His newest Paranormal Thrillers this year, The Books of James C. Patch: Utopia (May 2012), Witchwoods (June 2012), A Father First (June 2012), The Leaving Fields (July 2012), In the Manor of Heather Black (September 2012). Theyíre available online and in bookstores.
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Q: In your book, The Books of James C. Patch: The Barrier you delve into the world of spiritual life after death. What inspired you to write about this?
Gary: Actually, the genesis of this story came to me in the same way that many others get their ideasĖin a dream. I remember this distinctly because it was the only dream that I had had that I could remember, in detail and well after I had awoken, every aspect of the story. I remembered the entire three-book trilogy in detail. I woke up when the story was complete, and for that, I was quite thankful. It was such a fantastic story that I immediately wrote down, in bullet points, all three books. Luckily, hours later, I had the entire dream on paper. I was amazed that Iíd lived the entire story, in the dream. I glanced at the clock, and I had only slept for an hour.
Q: In your book, The Books of James C. Patch: The Barrier your heroes are authors. What inspired you to create such characters?
Gary: Thatís easy. Iím an author, and I know that creating a story that interests people is a difficult endeavor and that, at times, environments need to change so that inspiration can take hold. Sometimes that means traveling to secluded spots where one can eliminate outside concerns and restore focus to get the story written. Authors have wild imaginations and an investigative bent as well as a dedication to tell the masses their stories. I thought that a character in my book who is an author could best tell my story. When things occur that the author in the book canít explain, the investigative part of him kicks in and gets to the bottom of the concern. This story is about an author, James C. Patch, living in 1905, who discovers that he has the gift of splitting his spirit, much like many reports of peopleís near-death experiences when they see their spirits floating above them. His split spirit can travel to the spiritual world, and through his spirit, James Patch can see what happens to people after they die. Patch wrote three books to tell the world not to worry about dying because a new and glorious world awaits them. However, he also noted that, even in the spiritual world, evil exists in the form of a Barrier between the waiting spirits and the Utopia on the other side. The Barrier (also known as fate) has control over all living and spiritual things. Every time a spirit attempts to penetrate the Barrier, the Barrier takes its memories. The spirits need their memories in order to find their loved ones and to cluster with them on the other side. The Barrier saw that James C. Patch was about to tell the living world about the next step and knew that the people would want to live their lives to the fullest and thus create enough memories to pass through with ease. The Barrier killed Patchís family in an attempt to stop him from writing and informing the living world. He split his spirit to assist spirits with passing through the Barrier, but his young children couldnít pass through. Because of their young ages, they had accumulated too few memories to allow them passage through the Barrier. Thus, the Barrier would capture the children and force them to do its evil bidding. James, deeply depressed after having witnessed the horrific demise of his beloved wife and children at the hands of the Barrierís evil minions, gave up hope, burned his books, and killed himself. However, before doing so, he split his spirit and placed it, dormant, within a painting until 100 years later, when a modern-day author and split-spirit, Jacob Masterson, moved into Jamesí Vermont cottage where he discovered the dormant spirit, learned Patchís story, and decided to assist him by continuing Patchís lost, lifelong works and efforts to destroy the Barrier.
Q: When world building, did you base your story off of known myths throughout history?
Gary: Itís the old story of life and death. Outside of religion, many have questioned whether a spiritual world exists, a place where they would spend an eternity and exist happily among loved ones, free of the troubles of the living world. Iíd like to think that such a place exists. However, I have yet to see evidence of such a world. I build my spiritual world based upon what Iíve imagined it to be. Iím also fascinated by reports that the moments before you die, a recreation of your life passes through your mind at light-speed. Thankfully, I havenít experienced this phenomenon, but it still makes me wonder about what happens, if anything, after death.
Q: What myths or legends inspired you?
Gary: I created my spiritual world as an alternative to the Heaven and Hell worlds told in the Bible. Although Iím not the religious type, I still hold that stories within in it are fascinating and are ripe for telling in ways that make people think of alternatives. Some will hold that the Bible is truth, and I will not doubt their dedication to their beliefs, but some think that the Bible is a fictional account based on real people. Thousands of stories have been written based on the biblical passages from it, and Iím sure there are just as many stories written to debunk its passages. The spiritual world that I created has a little of both.
Q: Why do you think readers, and society in general, are fascinated by the paranormal?
Gary: Readers want to be taken away to a place where they would never go but always wanted to. Fantasy worlds abound within the pages of a book. The stories extend their lives beyond what they see day-to-day and take them on journeys beyond their imaginations. Paranormal stories, in particular, fascinate because itís the last bastion of the human experience that hasnít been explored to the point where itís considered fact. Everyone wants to believe that a spiritual world exists because, frankly, they donít want their existence to end. Thoughts of another step, or chance to be again, can dictate how they live their lives, and they long for answers to questions that people constantly ask. People want to experience all of their senses. Thatís why we have them. They want to be thrilled, scared, sad, or happy, depending on what they are reading or viewing. Itís all about being human and testing the limits of their ability to feel the experience and, by their own imagination, place themselves into the story.
Q: Do you have any paranormal pet projects?
Gary: No, I donít. Iím a multi-genre writer. The paranormal will always be my prime focus, but I like to write about all things and in all genres. Many authors have told me to stick to one area so that my fans will know, essentially, what theyíre buying, but I choose not to be locked into one area of story building because a whole array of stories exist within my mind, and I want to tell them all.
Q: What are your favorite paranormal shows, movies and books?
Gary: I love watching shows that drive me to my own limits of fear of the unknown. Some television shows that come to mind are Ghost Hunters, Fact or Fiction, Paranormal State, Most Haunted, and many more. I also like the Paranormal Activity movies. Such a simple idea, and I wish I had thought of it first.
Q: Do you believe in the supernatural? Or are you a skeptic?
Gary: Iím a skeptic until I see something that I canít explain first hand. Still, the shows and movies make me want to believe in the supernatural, but I must hold to my original thought. I have tried to rationalize the existence of the paranormal in my mind, and I really would like to believe it. However, the realistic side of me knows, beyond any future experiences, that it is still a sad and troublesome doubt.
Q: Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Gary: I thought I did at one time. A few of my friends and I wanted to do something out of the ordinary. We were high school kids who wanted to experience what it felt like to be in a cemetery at midnight. It was me and two couples, and we picked the largest and oldest cemetery we could find. As we found out, there are no lights in cemeteries at night. We each had our own flashlight, and we were creeped out right away. I flashed my light on a tree a short distance away and a face emerged from behind a tree and then disappeared behind the tree. I remembered that the eyes glowed bright as I shown my flashlight on it. I turned around, and all of my friends had taken off, leaving me alone with what was behind that tree. I took a few steps back and heard the cracking of small branches being stepped on and leaves rustling behind me. The flashlight created shadows when shown on the more ornate tombstones, causing my mind to believe that something was out there watching me, stalking me. In the distance, I could hear my friends extolling me to return to the car, and the fear of the unknown made me comply with great haste. During the daylight hours, I revisited the site and saw, within the tree, a nest of owls that had scared the hell out of me a mere ten hours earlier.
Q: What kind of paranormal creatures do you wish you could meet?
Gary: I guess I would like to believe that ghosts or a spiritual world exists. Meeting the spirit of a man or a woman would be an experience of a lifetime. Definitive proof of the afterlife would certainly answer many questions. Yes, Iíd like to meet someone or something in that state.
Q: How would you react if you came face to face with a ghost?
Gary: To stand before one is unimaginable to me, but if it ever did happen, I wonder how my mind would react. Would I become freaked out and run as fast as I could, or would I try to correspond with it? It would certainly create a few more stories in my mind, though much more vivid.
Q: What does the future hold for James Patch and Jacob Masterson in the James C. Patch trilogy?
Gary: Presently, I have no plans to write additional books with these characters past the third book in the series, The Books of James C. Patch: Utopia. Should the public desire more books on the subject, Iíll of course comply.
Q: Have you ever been to a psychic?
Gary: No, Iíve never had the desire to go to a medium, but I imagine that it would be fun to have a creepy sťance party designed to scare and entertain my guests.
Q: Have you ever been abducted by aliens?
Gary: No, but one day, who knows? Iím sure that there are people out there who, after reading this trilogy, will think that the possibility exists that I have.
Q: What have you done to market your paranormal trilogy?
Gary: Iíve given a few interviews and have placed them on all the social media sites. My primary focus is getting this trilogy in the hands of people who can deliver these stories on a movie screen. It is a very involved story with multiple mysteries and illusions that I believe will do well with the movie-going public. I contracted Legerity Entertainment of Roswell, New Mexico to create a five-minute movie trailer of the first installment of the James C. Patch trilogy. They completed and delivered it to many of the online video sites and are trying to get screenwriters to adapt the story to have a deliverable to distribute among filmmakers. This is in its infancy stage at present, but Iím sure that once it gets around, filmmakers will see the viability and potential of such a project. My website presents the trailer. I write all my stories with movies in mind.
To learn more about Gary D. Henryís books or see the book trailer, visit his website garydhenry.com. Interview by Michelle M. Pillow, www.michellepillow.com