Last March, a collection of suspense fiction I compiled, And Then There Were Nine, was released by Kydala Publishing, Inc. I’m thrilled to be able to offer the book to members of my readers’ group and to share it with suspense-lovers everywhere.
I’ve been a fan of David H. Hendrickson since I first read his work in 2017, so I was delighted to include one of his short stories, “The Kids Keep Coming,” in the collection. Dave writes across many genres, and his stories are always engaging and suspenseful. One of my favorites, Death in the Serengeti, made The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 publication, chosen as the cream of the crop by series editor, Otto Penzler, and guest editor, the marvelous Louise Penny. The story also won the Derringer Award for Best Long Story that same year.
I’m pleased to have Dave on today’s blog post, and I know readers will enjoy this interview!
My interview with David H. Hendrickson
What’s your biggest challenge, as a writer?
My biggest challenge, as it is for many writers, is time. If you aren’t writing, then you aren’t a writer.
I have, however, a ridiculously busy schedule. I’m a full-time software engineer, a career that can be pretty demanding all by itself. I also teach three courses in the evening at universities in the Boston area. I’ve also been an award-winning college hockey writer six months out of the year for the past twenty-four years.
Then there’s fiction writing.
If I used that order for getting things done, I’d barely write fiction at all. What I had to ask myself years ago was, “What is my number one passion outside of my family?”
Since the answer was writing fiction, it had to become my number one priority. And I had to do that number one priority first.
Even though I was more naturally a night owl, I trained myself to get up early and write before all those other things drained my energy. If that meant I was teaching a three-hour course in the evening on pure adrenaline after several hours of early-morning writing followed by a full day of software engineering, so be it.
Putting my number one priority where it belonged—first!—made all the difference.
Additionally, I’ve also decided that this will be my final season covering college hockey. I’ve enjoyed winning awards and being a big fish in that tiny pond, but I need to put that time and energy where it belongs, into writing fiction.
I look forward to using that extra time to write more stories and novels in the years to come.
Which authors have influenced you the most, and why?
The writer who initially influenced me the most was Harlan Ellison. After I read the title story in his collection, The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, I knew that whatever Ellison had just done in that story was what I want to do with my life.
With the stunning pyrotechnics of his writing as my inspiration, I devoured his stories and then became captivated by the works of Stephen King, William Goldman, and so many others. I tried to figure out how their characters came to life while my own fell flat. What was it that made Goldman’s words so magically distinctive—something I would later identify as writer voice—while mine were so drop-dead boring?
The writers who eventually helped me piece the confusing puzzle of fiction together were Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. The puzzle still seems to be missing a few pieces that I hope to someday find, but Kris and Dean’s workshops were life-changing. They breathed life into my fiction writing career.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Tell us about it.
I wrote my first story the day after I read Harlan Ellison’s “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.” I took out a sheet of paper, scribbled my first few paragraphs, and though the words were weak and the story was horrible, I felt as though—in Ellison terms—lightning was firing out of my fingertips.
I was hooked.
How about you? Are you as inspired as I am by Dave’s example and passion? Tell us about it in the comments.