Friday, April 1, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway: Jason Henderson

Please welcome Jason Henderson, author of the Alex Van Helsing series!

I’m Jason Henderson. I write a lot of stuff—for years I focused on games and comics, but recently I’ve been concentrating more on novels. I’m currently in the middle of a three-book series from HarperTeen called Alex Van Helsing—the second book in the series, Voice of the Undead, comes out July 26, 2011.

3LB: Who or what inspired you to write? Do you have any role models?
I caught the writing bug very early. I remember reading Twilight Zone Magazine when I was a kid and suddenly becoming aware that the stories—the magazine published short stories every month—were written by actual people, you know? So I started wanting to write stories, to have my own stories out there. I even started submitting then, though I never sold a story until I sold a book, many years later.
My role models are the writers out there who work year in and year out and really hone their craft. Especially Stephen King, who has the greatest work ethic of any writer whose writing I’ve admired. He wants to keep working and keep improving. He is successful and keeps working hard. I want to be more like that every day.

3LB: How long does it take you to finish writing a novel?
It’s a fun process, and it changes from book to book, but just to look at the first draft? The first draft of an Alex Van Helsing novel, which is a short book, usually around 60,000 words, is about three months. But then of course there will be many months of rounds of revisions. So basically I write about 20,000 words a month—which makes sense when you think of 20 work days a month at an average of 1000 words a day. That’s a good goal when you’re drafting, by the way: 1000 words a day. Hang your hat on it.

3LB: Are any of your own interests represented in the Alex
Van Helsing books?
So much! Alex Van Helsing is actually so representative of my interests that a list of 
keywords could be used as a psychic map of my brain. You’ve got literary history, spy novels 
and movies, “boy detective” type stories, vampire myths, comic books, everything. Honestly
I set out to write a that hauled out stuff that I particularly enjoyed and put it all 
together. That’s why there are hidden messages even in the names of the secondary
characters. In Voice of the Undead there are in-jokes all over the place with names.

3LB: Create a haiku about the Alex Van Helsing series.
Below Lake Leman
They draw plans against you
So ride, and meet them

3LB: What’s next for you? What other books have you written?
Okay, I would pick the following:
  • Sword of Dracula: It’s funny, I actually pitched the Alex Van Helsing series as “The Young Van Helsings,” a series starring a teen version of Ronnie Van Helsing, the star of my comic Sword of Dracula (which you can read in an IDW trade paperback.) I’d still like to do a Ronnie Van Helsing series, and she even shows up in Alex’s books just as Alex who appeared briefly in Sword of Dracula.
  • Daughters of the Shadow: Also, currently in the Shadowland: Street Heroes, you can get my Marvel comic miniseries Daughters of the Shadow, about an all-female team of ninja assassins led by Colleen Wing, a sword-wielding detective.
  • MacDuff Saga: I have just released on Kindle my first two “MacDuff” books, epic fantasies about the hero of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The first one, MacDuff, the Iron Thane, picks up right after Macbeth and is about a war against a spirit who wants to steal souls and enslave Scotland. The second, The Spawn of Loki, is about the rebirth of Loki, who wants to bring about the end of the world. These are old-fashioned, big-adventure, horses-magic-and-swords fantasies.
  • Soulcatcher: I also really love Soulcatcher, a graphic novel I wrote about a woman who comes to New Orleans, the most haunted city in America, and learns that she has the ability to absorb the powers of the dead.
Of course what’s next is what I’m working on right now, and I wouldn’t dream of going into it. Suffice it to say I have more series ideas, and they are exciting and big.

3LB: What three people/characters would you love to meet? (They can be fictional, dead, or real and very much alive!)
I’d love to meet:
  1. Atticus Finch, who is the kindest and gentlest hero in modern fiction
  2. Stephen King, just to hear him talk about the process
  3. Robert E. Howard, who I just wish I could meet and tell him everything that’s going to happen, what an amazing world is waiting, and what a difference his work is going to make. You get the sense that he would have benefited from knowing that.
3LB: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Tall, loving dad.

3LB: Do you have a favorite book or author?
Yes: On Writing, by Stephen King

3LB: If you were stranded in an area with lots and lots AND lots of snow, which one of your book characters would you want there with you?
Probably Susan, the First Sister, the head witch introduced in my book MacDuff, the Iron Thane, which was a sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In the second of those books, The Spawn of Loki, Susan actually saves the main characters when they’re buried in an avalanche. She melts the snow and tunnels them out. She would be useful.

3LB: Favorite movie of all time?
The Untouchables, screenplay by David Mamet. This is genre at its absolute tops.

3LB: Tell us five interesting things about yourself.
I can imagine five things people may not know. Who knows if they’re interesting.
  1. I have a beautiful wife and two lovely little girls.
  2. I named the fictional Polidorium, in the Alex Van Helsing books, after a yearly storytelling Halloween party I and a bunch of students at the University of Dallas started, called the Polidori Party (in turn named after John Polidori).
  3. I went to three high schools: starting in Waco, Texas, then Clear Lake, Texas (That's where I go!), and finally Lancaster, Texas.
  4. I have an awesome home office, but often write squirreled away in empty lecture halls at a local college.
  5. My greatest accomplishment was getting a Wall Street Journal “stipple picture” when I was in that paper.
3LB: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Sure. I love writing this series and can’t wait for the second one to come out (and for the first paperback to come out!) To me, Alex Van Helsing is my Hardy Boys, a series that I want to just fall into and run around in. I hope people enjoy it.
Beyond that I’d like to share that I’m really, genuinely thrilled that people are reading and that I had this opportunity to talk to you. Thank you for opening up your blog to me, Lucia!

Thank you, Jason! It was great having you. For more information about Jason, visit:

      Links to buy the first book in the Alex Van Helsing series, Vampire Rising:
      ***This giveaway has now ended.***
      And now... FOR THE GIVEAWAY.
      To enter, you must:
      • Be a GFC follower
      • Leave a comment with your name, email address, and tell me: Alex Van Helsing features vampires and zombies. Which do you prefer?
      The deets:
      • One winner will receive an ARC of Voice of the Undead.
      • All regular contest rules apply.
      • Contest open to US only. Sorry, internationals! :(
      • This contest ends April 30.
      • Minimum number of entries is one, maximum is six.
      • Leave ONE COMMENT PER ENTRY. Please don't forget your name and email for each! I'd rather not have to hunt you down. Speaking of hunting you down, I will not do so to tell you that you've put all your entries into one comment. Please put separate comments, or else you will only get one entry (or however many you put)!
      Extra entries:
      • Follow 3LB on Twitter
      • Follow 3LB on Facebook
      • Follow Jason on Twitter
      • Like Alex Vampire Helsing on Facebook
      • Spread the word about the contest (please provide link). Tweet, Facebook status, sidebar link, anything!
      Thank you to Jason Henderson for his generosity in providing this prize!


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