Today on Paws4Thought we welcome mystery writer, Paul Hennrich. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Paul.
I am the proud father of two and grandfather of three and a retiree from Union Pacific Railroad. I live in Jackson, Missouri, and this year my wife and I celebrated our fortieth anniversary. What else is there to say after that? Life is good.
When did you first start writing?
The first piece of mystery fiction I produced was in the third grade at St. Mary’s of Help Grade School in Chester, Illinois. My teacher was a young lady fresh out of college. She found out about my short story and decided to read it to the class. At one part in the action I had a head rolling down some stairs and I notice she winced as she read that part, but she went on to finish the story without stopping. I don’t remember who the killer was discovered to be but I do remember my classmates got a kick out of my little mystery tale. All I can think to say, all these years later, is “Thanks Teach.
“Who are your favorite authors?
Jack London, Allan W. Eckert and Bruce Catton to start with. Then came the biggies. Raymond Chandler was first, who I discovered in 1970 by reading ‘The Big Sleep’. Things were never the same after that. Around that same time I joined a book club. The trick with those clubs back then was to send you a postcard with a book title along with a brief description and if you didn’t mail the card back in by a certain date you got the book and had to pay for it. I got a lot of unwanted books that way and this certain one was another of those. Anyway, I stored the thing away for a long while until I got bored one cold winter afternoon and picked it up because I had nothing else. It was ‘The Long Lavender Look’ by a guy named John D. McDonald. By a complete accident, I had found the master.
I crave the creative process. Within producing a written manuscript one takes the smallest of concepts, a tiny seed of an idea, and works it around and through the fertile soil of one’s gray matter until it grows into a complete creation. Doing it kneads the mind and allows your imagination to travel. It’s exhilarating.
The majority of the mystery and fast action of Scavengers takes place in the peaceful, green farm country of Illinois, a place where terrible crimes are considered the products of the dirty backstreets of the cities. It starts with Kent Baker, an ex-DEA agent on a leave of absence for being too quick about putting perpetrators down, being asked by his best friend to provide him some closure by crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s concerning the horribly tragic death of his grandmother, an elderly farm wife who falls in a pig pen and is torn apart by the hogs. Her death has been ruled an accident but it’s not long into Baker’s investigation that he realizes her death is more than a slip and fall. A creeping evil had enveloped the peaceful existence of this farming community; an evil of born of extortion, cruelty and murder. As Kent digs deeper into finding out who is behind it all he is confronted, among other things, by a brutal millionaire with kinky desires, a desperate man who attempts to gut him with a long blade, and a lady from his past who in the end comes to haunt him. It’s all within a normal few days worth of adventures for a Kent Baker, and all played against the back drop of the cruel contradiction of a malevolent killer visiting the tranquil heartland.
Explain a little bit about your writing process. As a mystery writer do you write backwards?
Normally when starting a book I have it seventy-five percent plotted out in my head and on some scribbled notes – (most of the notes are the secondary characters names, something I have a hard time remembering). So I start with page one and go from there. Doing that gets me into the gist of the story and I find that certain things have to happen to let everything play out in a logical way, and those fill-ins make up the other twenty-five percent of the story line.
How did you find Rocking Horse Publishing?
I met Robin Tidwell when she came to speak at a Southeast Missouri Writers Guild meeting at the library in Cape Girardeau. I was impressed with her sense of humor, her knowledge of books and publishing, and her drive. I gave her a copy of my first Kent Baker novel, Definitions, which she was kind enough to read, after which she followed that up by writing a review of it. I sent her Scavengers which she was also good enough to say she would publish. It pays to attend book club meetings.
What are you currently working on?
The third Kent Baker mystery / suspense novel is done and in the capable hands of a couple of highly compensated editors (they work for free) who are geniuses at making something out of my jumbled syntax. It is called Entertainment and has Kent Baker a victim of a drive-by shooter. Another man is killed during the same shooting spree and a fifteen year old girl is shot in the spine and paralyzed. The police have no suspects and of course there is no way Kent can stay on the sidelines. The next book, number four, is in that seventy-five percent plotting stage I mentioned earlier and I will begin writing it soon. It is entitled Kinfolk. Number five is more like fifty percent tumbled about in my head and it will be called Inspiration. I also have an epic novel which I finished several years ago that I will look into getting published. It tells the story of a group of young people, three boys and a girl, and begins with them caught up as children in the turmoil of the 1850’s prior to the Civil War before taking them through the war itself – where the young men are soldiers – and onto the Indian wars in the west which followed. It carries this group through those turbulent times; times that roiled their lives and their relationships. This novel is called The Reach.
Writing is my passion but nature photography is my hobby. I get up before sunrise at least once a week and head into the countryside with my camera, snapping pictures of all things large and small. I love it. I also love my family and being with them is a great way to relax.
(You can check out Paul’s wonderful nature photographs at Fine Art America – DMK)
How can readers contact you?
I would be happy and honored to receive e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Facebook at ‘Books by Paul Hennrich‘.