Comic Book Herald scored an exclusive interview with renowned author Henry Henry, most recently depicted in the pages of Vault Comics’ Fearscape, about the upcoming follow-up work A Dark Interlude.
He sits across from the other side of the screen an ocean away. From what I had heard about the man, I was expecting a monster. Like one of those character actors who got type cast as the self-satisfied serial killer. Richard Brake in a Rob Zombie film or Lars Mikkelsen playing Rupert Murdoch for Steven Moffat. The kind of calculating man who would chew your ear off about the symbolic implications of a murder tableau while standing before your father’s corpse. The knife still embedded into his heart.
Instead, he’s twitchy. A sad, twitchy little man with a palpable sense of himself. He wants you to believe he’s so much smarter than he is, almost as much as he wants to believe it himself. He tries to hide it behind shadows. His cell is deliberately lit to make visibility more difficult like he’s the monster in a film noir. He sits cross legged with a slight smile on his face.
Let’s start with something basic before we get into the meatier questions: throughout your work, you disparage the state of literature and how it’s full of “right wing adolescent power fantasies, left wing polemics, or politically neutral stories scribed by monomyth monomaniacs.” As such, what have you been reading lately?
Not much, is the unfortunate answer. I’ve read or translated all of the classics. (All of those worth reading, anyhow). And, as we both know, contemporary fiction is largely worthless. I find myself mostly watching arthouse movies, these days. (From the Criterion Collection, naturally.)
Although given my current incarceration, such films are hard to come by. I have had to settle with endless repeats of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise. But I remain positive! We must ingest all art, high and low alike, if we are to reflect life. A true artist finds beauty in all things.
Can you elaborate on the arthouse films that you’ve watched, both in the past and the present? Indeed, what books were you reading prior to your incarceration?
I don’t think the specific names of films are important. Arthouse is more of a state of mind, anyway. A sensibility I bring with me regardless of what I’m watching. To use The Fast and the Furious, for example, I can bring my arthouse lens to the fore when watching those films, and get a deeper level of meaning out of them than most viewers can.
This is my preferred approach to all things literary and artistic. Be the literature, do not read the literature. Schopenhauer and Einstein both said that any man who reads too much and thinks too little is apt to become a fool. I have no intention of falling into such a laytrap.
Well, I have to agree with you on that one. I’ve seen many analysis that apply different lenses to seemingly mundane things, be it Sandifer’s psychochronographic exploration of Doctor Who or Graham’s Marxist examination of Alien. I’m always fascinated when weird and interesting people do things to fiction, and I’d be curious to see you have a go at it. Since you brought it up, can you give me an example of what The Fast and the Furious looks like through your arthouse lens. What’s the most recent one called… Hobbes and Shaw! What does Hobbes and Shaw look like when applied through your lens?
Is this an interview or an interrogation?! Why are you so insistent on discovering what I have/have not been reading/watching lately? You know full well I have spent the last eighteen months in a sanitarium and my resources have been limited. It may be the case that the only piece of media I’ve had access to is The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, but I don’t see how such a revelation will help your readers in understanding me. Nor do I understand why my own, personal, private, reflections on that film are in any way helpful to understanding the book I am here to promote.
Oh yes! My book! That old thing! Would you perhaps like to talk about it? That’s why my publisher set up this interview that I am contractually obliged to participate in.
Very well then. As you are currently staying at Scriblerus Mental Health Hospital, you have been working hard to get better. Among these methods was writing a, for lack of a better term, sequel to the book you… wrote, Terror Forming. The question that comes to mind is why you thought posting it to a publisher was a good idea?
“Lack of a better term?” Sean, my dear fellow, you may only be a journalist, but journalism is a form of writing. You should have more self-respect than to take the easy option when describing things. Consider investing in a thesaurus and an English usage dictionary. I did not write a sequel, I wrote an extended epilogue with a self-contained narrative.
I find the implicit accusation in the second part of your question borderline insulting. You make me sound like some sort of imbecile for sending a manuscript to a publisher and being surprised that they decided to publish it. I’ll grant that I did not forbid them from doing so, and that they had, only weeks prior, asked me to send them more work that they might publish. But really, you can construct any narrative out of a sequence of events if you are determined enough. Hermann & Humbert, my publishers, were friends of mine. They betrayed my trust. Nothing more need be said on the matter.
Fair enough. But what then are your thoughts on the reception the epilogue has received from your beta readers? For that matter, how do you feel it compares to the rest of your oeuvre? And what of the fanbase you’ve accrued?
Readers are an unfortunate, irrelevant, concern that every writer must eventually suffer through. Commercial fiction writers have to care about that sort of thing. You know, ensuring you’re writing what your readers would enjoy. But as an author of literature, I look beyond the current zeitgeist. If I am to write timeless works, then I cannot concern myself with my current readership. They will likely all be dead when my work enters The Canon, anyhow.
Before my incarceration, I did a small bookstore signing at a local bookshop. While I enjoyed it more than I anticipated, the entire event was soured by a single reader of mine. The man had the audacity to refer to himself as a “happy customer” of my work. Customer? I almost threw up. Security had to remove him from the premises.
In your recent letter, you mention the abuse and harassment your fan base has done towards one Jill Proctor. You say you don’t support the actions of said fan base, even outright telling them to stop. But at the same breath, you provided them with Jill’s whereabouts on a weekly basis. How do you parse this paradox?
I did not want any of my fans to accidentally run into her. I thought if they knew her exact whereabouts it would help them avoid her. I realize now this was a mistake. I take ownership of it and will do better in the future. I just hope that Jill can forgive the damage done to her property, as well as the attempts made on her life. (Which, if I may, do not amount to the “dozen” the New York Times reported. There were only three such occurrences. Well below the national average for a celebrity of her level.)
If it’s not too personal, I’d like to ask about your relationship with Arthur Proctor. There are many who have claimed that you lied about how he mistreated you in order to gain pity from an unsympathetic jury over a murder charge. How do you respond to such claims?
I have been advised not to answer this question. You are not to post it or my answer on your website. There will be consequences if you do.
Finally, what do you plan to do once you get out of Scriblerus?
Speak to my lawyer about not doing promotional interviews for my writing ever again. It is genuinely absurd that I am expected to promote my own work. I wrote it. That should be enough. I don’t care what my publishing contract demands. There are plenty of community college graduates with marketing (I want to say diplomas?) more suited to the task than me. I should be spending my time writing. Goodbye.