Mark Henry Bibliography & Interview
Amanda Feral novels (in reading order)
- Happy Hour of The Damned - reviewed by LoveVampires
- Road Trip of The Living Dead - reviewed by LoveVampires
- Battle of the Network Zombies (March 2010)
LoveVampires Interview with Mark Henry
Mark Henry on Mark Henry
What's to know? Let's see, I'm a Gemini, therefore completely schizophrenic and moody (just ask my wife), I love dogs, travel, foreign horror and dark comedy, reading, writing on my back porch in the summer and occasionally cooking (actually I cook everyday, I just enjoy it infrequently). I've lived through several natural disasters (earthquakes, typhoons and 2 volcanic eruptions, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Pinatubo)—talk about right place at the wrong time. I used to be a psychotherapist, for 12 years, but this zombie smut thing is way more fun.
Mark Henry on the Amanda Feral novels
My books are definitely dark comedy takes on the standard urban fantasies. In fact, when I was writing the first one, then called The Undead Socialite's Guide to Nightlife, my intention was to force sentient zombies into a chick-lit novel, so the framework is much more about the relationships and the character. I didn't even know that I was writing an urban fantasy. Didn't know the genre existed. Amanda is my antidote for spunky female heroines, she doesn't take any crap, nor does she particularly care about saving the day, or getting the guy, or even solving the mystery. That's how it is when you first meet her. Through the course of the books, she grows a ton, even as she's slowly rotting away. Very slowly.
Amanda Feral is a character unto herself? What served as the inspiration for her character and the world she inhabits?
Amanda is an amalgam of my love for traditional zombies and sarcasm as a lifestyle. Her opinions may be extreme but no more so than the crap my friends and I talk about on Friday nights. The other thing is, I've always been surrounded by strong women and that's what I'm attracted to, so Amanda had to be strong and brash and harsh. There was just no way around that. She also had to cuss like a sailor and lack a good deal of empathy. I've taken a lot of flack for those characteristics, but even though she may not be instantly likeable, she's a real person and that was way more important to me.
How many books to you have planned for the Amanda Feral series? Can you give readers any hints to Battle of the Network Zombies?
I have 5 planned (the fourth is set on a cruise ship for Liesl and Cameron's wedding, but I don't have a title for that one—so if anyone has some ideas, I'd be happy to hear 'em—the fifth is definitely going to be called Dawn of the Deadutantes, expect Honey to be back with a frighteningly familiar gang of ghouls). Beyond that my mind goes to really dark places. I'm thinking that I'd have to go apocalyptic to keep upping the ante on hardships for Amanda, Wendy and Gil. In Battle, Amanda's down on her luck but determined to maintain her lifestyle even if that means whoring herself out for reality television and the vile Johnny Birch, an oversexed wood nymph with a bounty on his head. Lots of new characters and tragic embarrassment await our "heroine" and her undead pals.
As a reader, what books have you most enjoyed reading lately?
I'm reading FOOL by Christopher Moore right now and it's hilarious. I loved David Sedaris' latest WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES. It's a hilarious collection of humorous essays that everyone should check out. What else did I read this year? Oh! RED HEADED STEPCHILD by Jaye Wells was a great and super fun read for vampire fans. Speaking of vampires, I'm really excited about THE STRAIN, the first in a horror trilogy from Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It's supposed to be one of the scariest books evah!
What is your writing style? Do you plot every aspect of the story out beforehand or do the characters take over the story and push it in various directions?
When I wrote my first novel, it was totally a seat-of-my-pants kind of thing. No real outline and just a general idea of what I wanted to present and how the book would end, as a result the book is definitely all Amanda all the time. Which really suits the chick lit style. But. Turns out, Kensington likes to have outlines, so the second book and the third both were plotted a great deal more. In fact, the one I'm working on now, Battle of the Network Zombies, started with an extremely detailed outline that sort of got in the way of the humor Amanda's capable of. To get the first draft done, I had to veer from the plan quite a bit to nurture the comedy. So in a sense, if Amanda doesn't get her way, she makes things quite difficult.
Which authors have had the most influence on your work?
It's funny, because I was reading a very negative review the other day that compared my work to Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. I was psyched at the comparison, not only did I love that book, but the whole "me generation" aspect is definitely a big influence on the Amanda books. Stephen King's The Stand is still my favorite book and if there's anyone I consider a hero in writing it's him. David Sedaris' and Augusten Burroughs' humorous memoir collections have played a huge part in why I wanted to write in the first place. Both dark and honest, hilarious and heartfelt, those two made my blogging what it is, too. I had to make a conscious decision to be as open with readers as I am and it's largely in part to them. Oddly enough, the most influential person has been a film director. John Waters. His irreverence and courage to put whatever the hell he wanted up on the screen and in such a hilarious way, put him right on a pedestal for me.
How do you come up with names for characters? Do you pick them at random? Is there a process?
It's pretty random. I don't recall how Amanda's first name came to me, but I knew I wanted her to have a last name that sounded dangerous, though I wanted to make sure people knew she chose to change it legally to that name, rather than just have this weird name that no one in real life has. It would have bugged me to do that. Wendy is actually named after Shelly Duvall's character in the Shining and I do put her through quite a bit of abuse, so I must have been thinking about that flick the whole time. Gil just showed up one day. He started as Gilbert, but I wanted there to be some syllabic difference between the three friends. All the other peeps are definitely random. Some I snag right off the bookshelf. I use author's names quite a bit.
Who is your favorite fictional vampire?
Hmm. I'm going to go with Miriam Blaylock from The Hunger (the film adaptation of Whitley Strieber's book). Stylish, sultry and having the distinction of being fangless, Miriam burns through lovers with abandon and slices throats with her ankh pendant. Just plain sexy.
Vampire or zombie? If you had to choose, which would you want to be and why?
Gotta be a vamp, right? With my luck I'd end up a zombie, all rotty and gross. And simply for the fact that vamps don't deteriorate. I'd miss sunny afternoons, though.
A big "thank-you" to Mark Henry for taking part in the author interview. To find out more about the Amanda Feral novels visit Mark Henry’s website.
4th June 2009