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JOHN W. HENSON INTERNATIONAL POET AND ARTIST
Questions and answers for John W. Henson
AN INTERVIEW WITH INTERNATIONAL AUTHOR/ARTIST JOHN HENSON
Robert Hewett Sr.
1. Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Bolsover in Derbyshire, England, in the shadow of the castle there that stretches back to Norman, England. I now live in Marmaris, Turkey, near another castle dating from the Crusaders in the 14th century.
2. What is, or was, your main career, and what is your status now? My main careerwas as a graphic designer and illustrator, though I was also a soldier, bodyguard and security supervisor at different periods. Now I am retired and doing my own thing
3. Did your career involve professional writing for money or job requirements? Yes as an Art director I often had to commission or write copy for advertising purposes, for clients. I have written a number of magazine articles for various publications covering history, modelling, folklore, the supernatural, political satire and at one point concert reviews for a pop culture publication.
4. Were your parents or other ancestors’ writers or artists? Did your family encourage you in your writing and artistry? My Father had a talent for drawing but never pursued it so never reached professional standards. No, it was not encouraged in my family, art in any form was considered a waste of time.
5. How did you first become interested in writing? What are your pseudonyms and how did you select them? My first foray into writing was at school, I wrote a poem about battery farming, called ‘The Chicken Machine’ which was published in a national newspaper: Thanks to the encouragement of my teacher, Mr Peter Parker who we kids called Spiderman. If you happen to read this Sir, I owe you a lot, though I may not have fully appreciated it at the time, Thank you! I don’t use a ‘Nom de plume’, I write under my own name John W Henson.
6. How long have you been actively writing? I have been writing most of my life the earliest piece I have in my possession dates from 1967 I wrote a short story for the school magazine when I was 13. My career as a serious writer stems from 2 years ago following the death of Michael Jackson, I wrote a tribute poem on the web and a lady, named Pat Simpson, spotted it and invited me to join her literary group and submit the poem to a tribute book that they were doing. I did and the rest is history. Pat is now my dear friend and publisher and another in a long line of thank yous that I owe. Thank you Pat
7. Do you currently write as a profession? Not as such. I am retired.But am constantlybusy as a writer and artist both with my own projects and work for other people. I have just completed an illustration assignment for my very dear friend author and poet, Paulette F Kosak, for her forthcoming book, ‘The Tale of Kathleen Laoghaire’, a project that I adored doing.
8. If so, what titles have you put out and where can we find them? I currently have three books published ‘Shadow Dancer’(with two versions of the cover available) and ‘Broken Wings’ this has a chapter devoted to my daughter Ruth Maguire, who is an exceptionally talented writer and artist, I also have an epic poem called ‘The Chronicles of Gildas’, just released, These are available from lulu. com and APFP Publishers, plus ‘Darklingmire’ which is due out in a couple of weeks. These are all collections of poetry. My work is also included in a number of anthologies. I also have in progress a novel called ‘Ecce Homo’ which is to be part one, of a cycle called ‘The History Man Chronicles’. I have written 48,000 words so far and in the pipeline I have a comedy about a private detective called ‘Knuckles Austin’ I am also pitching to Hollywood producers to see if I can get into the movie business.
9. Who is (was) your inspiration to write? Oh now you are asking, there are so manyI have many classical influences, like Seutonius, Tacitus, Homer, Ovid, Virgil, Pliny, Plato, just too many. I love the Viking Sagas and Eddas, George Orwell, Robert Graves, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, JRR Tolkien. I also love horror and gothic literature everything from Horace Walpole to Anne Rice. My comedy writing is influenced by Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Spike Milligan, John Lennon, anyone who is off the wall. I am very much the bibliophile I read anything and everything.
10. Who's writing style does your work most resemble? Difficult to say, I have been likened to Edgar Allen Poe a few times and Lewis Carroll too. I think it depends what I am writing, but my literary style is descriptive and atmospheric and quite tight, so I think Poe is probably good.
11. Do you write on a schedule? No I just write until I’m finished no real time factors apply
12. Where do you do your best writing? Probably in my study though I think my standard is fairly consistent regardless of where I write.
13. Do you write from home? Again no hard and fast answers, most of my work isproduced in my study, but I have written on Rhodes, on the decks of ships in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, or in the shadow of Winchester Cathedral or Whitby Abbey, it depends where the muse takes me.
14. I know that you are a gifted artist, when did you first notice that you had a talent for art? Very early, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t creating some form of art from sketching through painting, sculpting and many creative crafts.
15. At what age were you when others started to recognize your artistic talents? That would be when I started school at 4 years old , before that there was awareness but not acknowledgement. Luckily, I had wonderful teachers and as a result was attending Art College part time by the age of 11.
16. Have you had exhibits of your artwork; if not, do you plan to do so in the next 3 years? I have exhibited in a small way in the past but have no plans in that direction in thefuture
17. Do you listen to music when you are working? If so, what type of music do you listen to and why? Yes I do, again my tastes are wide ranging good music is good music regardless, I play a lot for atmosphere, I love 50s and 60s music, classical, and celtic. For working I will go from Tchaikovsky to Wagner or perhaps Clannad or Enya dependent on what I’m working on. Otherwise as I love a bit of karaoke I will play music that I can sing along to
18. Are you an avid reader? Do you like to visit museums, if so, what is one of your favorites? Yes I am a very avid reader, when I moved to Turkey I had to cut down thesize of my library, prior to that I had a library of over 6,000 books. Museums, ha ha, you can’t keep me out of them. I have been in museums all over the world. Difficult to choose a favourite, but probably the British Museum, followed by Cairo Museum
19. Who are your favorite Authors? Who inspired your interest in Art? JRR Tolkien, J K Rowling, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A E Poe, H P Lovecraft and many, many others too numerous to mention, artwise, people like Chris Achilleos, Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, from the past William Waterhouse, Gabriel Dante Rossetti, Gustav Dore and of course the great. Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema
20. What is your goal in writing? Since illustrations are an integral part of most published writings, how do you plan to merge your talents in the future? By continuing what I am already doing; by enhancing my own books and those of others with my illustration work. If fame and fortune came my way I would like to support children and animal charities. I currently have 2 huskies, 3 cats and a tortoise, they are all rescued animals.
21, Would you rather write a Great movie Novel or write an award winning novel that no one reads? And why does it matter? I would rather write a great movie novel,creativity is to be shared and enjoyed, if it is not then it has no value, so the greater the audience reached the more value in the work produced.
22. Who was your first character? And how do you feel about that creation now? My first ever character was called Betty Rankin for a short story called ‘Beauty and the Beast’ about a ranchers daughter defending a puma wrongfully blamed for sheep killing, when I was thirteen years old. I look at her now with pride, the story is a very well written piece with well rounded characters for a thirteen year old.
23. Should a sentence EVER start with "but" or "and" ? . Technically No! But when was there ever a rule made that couldn’t be broken!
24 If you couldn't ever write or draw again, what would you be doing? Gibbering, ha ha,no seriously, if I was still compos mentis I would be teaching.
25. How long did it take to write your first book? How long does it take to do a pencil sketch of a person? My first book is a collection of over 300 poems, about 10 monthswork. A pencil drawing of a person, as in a portrait dependent on complexity, background elements and other variables, from about 2 to 8 hours
26. Have you ever competed in the National Novel Writing Month event? What do think about such events? No I haven’t, I think that they are very good, though, as things like that can quite often open career doors for people and also help them grow as writers
27. How do you feel about Writers Groups or organizations? Are there forums for artists that parallel the writing groups you belong to? I think that they can be a good thing or bad. The good side is that they can be great places to learn from great talents and hone your skills. They can give yard sticks to help you assess your work, we are seldom the best ones to decide on the standard of our own pieces. The bad side is quite often they are cliquey and political and pretentious people who usually have little talent anyway, but believe that they are better than anyone else, these kind of people can undermine the confidence of promising writers. As far as artist sites go, yes, I believe that there are, though I don’t belong to any
28. When evaluating joining a new group what things do you look for to help you decide whether to join this group or not? The genuiness of it’s admin team and members, theirsincerity and honesty when interacting with others and the lack of politics. If someone name calls, an Artist will say ‘I don’t want to hear it’, a politician will say ‘tell me more.’
29. What is the longest amount of time you have spent writing in one sitting? Probably about 12 hours!
30. Do you use outlines or flowcharts to help you map out your plots? No I start with an idea then I write, sometimes an illustration will come first sometimes a written piece. Often the title will be the final element.
31. I will be sending notice of this interview out to thousands of people who view Twitter and Facebook. Would you like those who view your page to leave a comment? What would you like them to remember about you from this page?
Yes, feedback is wonderful, it lets you knowwhere you are in the scheme of things. Remember, hmm, that I want my work to be read, seen and enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible
32. Would you like to say something to those who view your page and leave you a comment? Yes, thank you for reading, and if you have a talent don’t hide it under the bed, don’t be shy, share it, then one day I can leave you a comment……………….John