Who is Christina Henry? Give us the low down.
I’m a thirtysomething (OK, almost fortysomething) mom of one boy and I’ve been happily married for eleven years.
When I’m not writing or helping my son build robots out of Legos I like to run long distances, bake sweet things (this is one of the many reasons that I run), and read as much as I can. I really enjoy watching movies where people get eaten by monsters – The Host, Jaws, Alien, and Night of the Living Dead are some of my favorites.
I’ve also lately become obsessed with that TV show Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. Have you ever seen some of the crazy stuff that guy eats?
No…that kind of food scares me! Black Wings is your debut book. Give us some insight into your road to publication and what inspired you to write this book.
I originally had an idea of writing a book about the Grim Reaper. At first, the reaper was male, tall and brooding – a lot like Gabriel, actually. Then I heard Maddy’s voice in my head, and the reaper became a slightly overweight, very short female with a big attitude. Once I heard Maddy’s voice Beezle’s followed pretty close behind, and that kind of set the tone for the whole novel.
I wrote the book in about a month and a half and then spent six months trying to find an agent. It’s incredibly challenging to try to get someone to represent you – there are a lot of writers out there and not that many agents. I couldn’t get an agent interested in the book so after six months I decided to send the book directly to Ace.
A week after I sent a summary and the first ten pages to Ace an editor asked for the full manuscript, and about 5 days after that I was offered a contract. Really, I think I got very lucky. The book happened to cross the desk of the right editor at the right time!
I like that Maddy has lots of power and suddenly finds herself deep within the demon culture, yet her human half keeps her mortal. What is your favorite thing about Maddy? Did she surprise you in any way when you were writing her?
My favorite thing about Maddy is the fact that she’s extremely vulnerable but also very strong. I think that you want to have that balance in a heroine so that she stays relatable to your readers.
Sometimes the dialogue that comes out of Maddy’s mouth surprises me –when I re-read the manuscripts I’ve often forgotten the exact wording of things that I wrote and she makes me laugh.
J.B seems like a fun character to write because he is so cranky. Is that true, or did he give you trouble?
He gave me a little trouble only because I didn’t want him to be the cardboard-y bad boss – I wanted him to have dimensions. So when I was doing rewrites he was probably the character that got the most work the second time around. I worked pretty hard layering in different aspects of his character.
He gets a lot more face time in the next book, so if you’re a J.B. fan you’ll be seeing him again!
I have to mention Maddy’s gargoyle buddy, Beezle! He might be my favorite character. How did you come up with him?
Don’t tell Maddy, but I think Beezle is my favorite character, too!
I love to write dialogue, so I wanted to have someone around that Maddy could converse with on a regular basis. Thus Beezle, the tiny gargoyle with the mighty appetite, was born.
Once Beezle appeared – sarcastic, crabby, and addicted to sugar – I wondered (like Maddy) how I would have ever gotten along without him. When you write in first person there’s a danger that you’ll spend too much time in the character’s head. Having another character on hand for Maddy to bounce ideas off keeps the narrative fresh and prevents Maddy from spending too much time brooding over her problems. Really, how can you brood when you’ve got a hungry gargoyle to feed?
Plus, since Beezle is a home guardian he’s pretty much always around, unlike a roommate or relative who might possibly have a life of one’s own. Beezle’s life is Maddy’s life – he delights in sticking his beak in her business – and everyone else’s business for that matter. This keeps him readily on hand for whatever I might need.
I noticed on your website, you state Mr. Brightside by The Killers is your anthem for book two, Black Night. I am a huge Killers fan so of course this makes me smile. What are some of the songs from the playlist for Black Wings?
Black Wings has a lot of humor and a lot of action, but I feel that the core emotion of the book is really about sadness and loss. The first song that summed up Black Wings for me was Sarah McLachlan’s “Full of Grace” and that set the tone for the pretty much the whole playlist and the whole book.
Some of the other songs from the Black Wings list were:
Wonderful Life/Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
O Children/Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
The Part You Throw Away/Tom Waits
Father Lucifer/Tori Amos
Somewhere Over the Rainbow-What a Wonderful World/Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
I hear you like samurai and zombie movies. What are some of your favorites?
Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Throne of Blood, Kill!, and Harakiri are some of my favorite samurai flicks. They all star either Toshiro Mifune or Tatsuya Nakadai or both – they are two of my favorite actors of all time.
Night of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Fido, 28 Days Later, Evil Dead II, and Bubba Ho-Tep are at the top of my list for zombie films. Four of them definitely qualify as comedies as well as horror – I really like a good belly laugh with my guts and gore.
What are three things you must have with you when you write?
1) A cup of green tea, 2) a notebook and pen for jotting down things that occur to me as I type, 3) no dirty laundry to wash so I can concentrate completely (as you can imagine, I hardly ever get number 3).
What is up next for you?
The second book of Maddy’s adventures, Black Night, is set to be released in late autumn of 2011. I’m working on the third book of the series right now, although Maddy hasn’t told me yet what it’s going to be called ;)
Thanks so much for having me here today!
Thank you Christina Henry! Christina is giving away one copy of Black Wings today!
To enter, just leave a comment and your email address if not in your profile. Open to US/Canada through December 9th.