Hi bookies (you book explorers)!
As you can tell from the title, the long-awaited author interview with April Henry is complete. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say as she seems like a pretty cool person. Also, if you like mystery books, check out her work! So, now I present to you the interview!
hardcoverlover: First, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions during your flight. So far, I’ve only read two of your books, “The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die” and “The Night She Disappeared”. They were pretty awesome. It seems there are several similarities between the two. Do you care to tell us about why that is so?
April Henry: I usually write about teens who find themselves in trouble, often girls.
hardcoverlover: Why do you choose to write about female protagonists?
April Henry: Being female myself, those are the stories I am often drawn too. There is often a male main character too, even if he is not a POV character.
hardcoverlover: Which of the characters you have created is your favorite character?
April Henry: I like Jaydra, who is going to be in the sequel to Girl, Stolen (Count All Her Bones, due out May 2017). She is a body guard who knows martial arts. She is a real bad ass. Her name is borrowed from a kung fu brown belt I know, an amazing and fierce woman.
hardcoverlover: Wow! There’s going to be a sequel? I definitely want to read that! What does your character think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?
April Henry: I have created literally hundreds of characters. I think most of them would want to hang out with me. I feel that, as their creator, I understand where they are coming from and why they are the way they are. And who doesn’t want to be understood?
hardcoverlover: You’re right. Let me test how well you understand them. What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some sort of complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
April Henry: Perhaps they would be like me. I used to order just non-fat lattes, but SA Bodeen turned me on to asking for “ristretto shots.” I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but it does result in the creamiest latte.
hardcoverlover: Hmm, interesting. I will have to try it out some time. Are you currently writing a book? Would you like to tell us about your upcoming book?
April Henry: I am always writing a book. My next book that will publish is Count All Her Bones, the sequel to Girl, Stolen. It comes out May 2, 2017.
hardcoverlover: I can’t wait. Speaking of waiting, how long does it take you to write a book?
April Henry: Usually nine months. I once had to write a book in nine weeks (for reasons too complicated to explain), which was horrible. I cried a lot. I got it done, but I don’t remember anything about those nine weeks.
hardcoverlover: Wow. Tough job there. Where do you get your ideas? I know one of them came from a real-life crime you read about. What other sources do you use?
April Henry: Almost all of them start with a news story. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die started with a song lyric that made me think “What if?” And the book I’ve just started writing (working title: The Lonely Dead) started with the idea of a girl who can talk to the dead.
hardcoverlover: How do you name your characters?
April Henry: Sometimes I have to play around with names to find the right one. Like in The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, the main male character was originally named Gareth but that never felt quite right. Then I changed it to Ty, and it clicked. I sometimes use the first names of students I meet or names from my daughter’s eighth grade graduation program.
hardcoverlover: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
April Henry: I usually have at least a rough outline.
hardcoverlover: How involved are you in your story? Do you fall into the world as you write it or do you just see it from the outside?
April Henry: I usually see it in my head like a movie, although I’ll often speak dialog aloud or act out certain movements or gestures.
hardcoverlover: That’s really cool. You get to enjoy your “movies” too! Do the stories seem to write themselves or are you constantly pushing it along?
April Henry: It’s a mix, to be honest.
hardcoverlover: How do you work through the dreaded writer’s block?
April Henry: I have learned that you can always edit crap, but you can’t edit nothing. So my best tip is to turn off the internet in 45 minute chunks and make your hands continuously move over the keys for those 45 minutes.
hardcoverlover: Good philosophy. Where do you write? Is your workspace the definition of “neat freak” or do you prefer to keep a “controlled chaos” atmosphere?
April Henry: I have a treadmill desk. It’s mostly clean, although there is a guest bed in there that can end up being a catch-all space if I’m not careful.
hardcoverlover: I know what you mean. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
April Henry: Sometimes my goal is a number of hours, sometimes it’s a number of words. I think goals help me stay more focused.
hardcoverlover: What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
April Henry: I might research some at the beginning and then more as I go along. I have taken classes on how to get out of rope, duct tape, zip ties and handcuffs; sword fighting; knife throwing; how to shoot pistols and machine guns; how to escape detection; disarming an armed attacker,;fighting in close quarters; kung fu; and Brazilian jiujitsu.
hardcoverlover: That’s a lot of dedication to your work. But, hey, at least you learn really cool and valuable skills. I pity whoever tries to take you on. Speaking of skills, your books tend to have really interesting, attention-grabbing covers. Who designed your book covers?
April Henry: My older covers were designed by Rich Deas. April Ward (both work for Macmillan) designed the last five or six.
hardcoverlover: Like I mentioned before, I’ve only read two of your books. I suppose I have many to catch up on. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
April Henry: Close to 30 if you count unpublished ones. Twenty have been published and two are in the pipeline. Asking about a favorite is like asking a mother about her favorite child.
hardcoverlover: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
April Henry: How easy it is to get out of handcuffs.
hardcoverlover: I guess I will have to research it. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
April Henry: I had one called Satellite that never found a home. It was an adult book about a guy who learns he doesn’t have Huntington’s disease. Maybe someday I will revisit or self publish.
hardcoverlover: Hmm. That’s unusual. To learn that you don’t have a disease. I think it would make an interesting read. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
April Henry: I wrote three books that never got published. The first was roundly rejected. The second got me an agent, and nice rejection letters from editors. The third did not even get nice rejection letters from editors. The fourth sold in two days in a two-book deal.
hardcoverlover: Good thing for us you’re not a quitter! What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
April Henry: The only ones that hurt are the ones you suspect are right.
hardcoverlover: Aww! I’m sorry to hear that as a reviewer. I hope we balance it out for you. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
April Henry: A review for an older book said the villain was too two-dimensional, and it was right. My favorite compliments are to hear from teens who have started to read for pleasure because of my books.
hardcoverlover: Makes it worth it, huh? If inspiration strikes you in an inconvenient place like driving a car or eating with friends at a restaurant, what do you do?
April Henry: Make a mental note.
hardcoverlover: You must have a good memory, unlike me. Now, I know we’ve been bombarding you a bit with all these questions about your books and your work. But here comes the “you” part. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? For example…
What’s the most amusing thing that has happened to you?
April Henry: I was once leaving a plane when I reached back to put on my backpack and accidentally grabbed what I thought was the armrest. It turns out to be a businessman’s crotch!
hardcoverlover: Yikes! I’m not sure how I would deal with a situation like that. I assume you like reading if you’re an author. What book are you reading now?
April Henry: March by Geraldine Brooks (told from the point of view of the father in Little Women) and The Handmaid’s Tale (again) by Margaret Atwood.
hardcoverlover: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
April Henry: I read The Darkest Corners and What Waits in The Woods and liked both of them. I don’t have internet on this flight, so I don’t remember the author’s names.
hardcoverlover: That’s okay. We will entertain you instead. We have a series of small but fun questions your readers want to know the answer to. I hope you don’t mind.
Pen and paper or computer?
April Henry: Computer. My handwriting was already bad and then I broken my hand in September 2015.
hardcoverlover: Ouch. Light or dark chocolate?
April Henry: Dark, preferably with nuts.
hardcoverlover: Ooh, me too! Favorite color?
April Henry: Teal.
hardcoverlover: Dogs or cats?
April Henry: Cats.
hardcoverlover: Tea or coffee?
April Henry: Coffee all the way.
hardcoverlover: E-reader or print book?
April Henry: Print unless there’s simply no room.
hardcoverlover: A true booklover’s answer! Chocolate or vanilla?
April Henry: Chocolate.
hardcoverlover: Sandals, sneakers, heels, boots, or flats?
April Henry: Flats. At home I am mostly barefoot.
hardcoverlover: Same here. Do you like manga?
April Henry: Not really. Don’t hate me.
hardcoverlover: That’s alright. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee in your case). Do you subscribe to any magazines and, if so, which?
April Henry: Oprah and The Sun, which is a wonderful literary magazine.
hardcoverlover: How would your best friend describe your personality?
April Henry: Funny, caring, sometimes too jokey.
hardcoverlover: You get the class clown award, I guess. My friends occasionally have to remind me to act my age too. Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?
April Henry: I have a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the most part.
hardcoverlover: Fair enough. Do you like your name? Why?
April Henry: Yes, because it’s unusual but easy to spell.
hardcoverlover: Do you have any siblings?
April Henry: A brother and a sister, both younger.
hardcoverlover: Haha! I win. One older brother and three younger sisters. Favorite TV show?
April Henry: Game of Thrones.
hardcoverlover: What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
April Henry: Right now I’m drawing a blank. I feel like at this point I have been asked everything.
hardcoverlover: So sorry! Now, just to wrap things up, is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
April Henry: Thank you for reading my books!
hardcoverlover: Okay everyone! Now you know! Thank you again for your time. I appreciate that you were able to answer our questions, and I’m sure all our readers appreciate it too.