Farewelling William Henry
If you’ve read my article Introducing William Henry, you’ll already know about the genesis of my fiction pen name.
I used the name for my debut novel (The Julian Calendar) in honour of my dear friend, John Garmonsway, who helped me to write the first draft back in 1992–93. My middle name is William, his is Henry, and he was in every way the inspiration for the novel. The story is about him; about us. He was my soulmate, and today is the second anniversary of his death on 23 May 2018. He was 89.
I love the name William Henry, and I loved the idea of John being alongside me on the cover and spine of every novel. But commercial realities have forced my plans to change, and I know John, an accomplished bookseller, would have understood and supported my decision. This is why today is the right day to farewell William Henry.
Well, as John would say, it’s nothing flash, it’s just business.
The cold reality is that it will be easier (or, more accurately, just slightly less insanely difficult) to open-up The Julian Calendar and future novels to commercially-viable overseas markets by writing under my own name. This is because I already have a modest but steadily-growing profile as a consultant and non-fiction author. The advice I received last year from industry experts was clear and consistent: my non-fiction books can lead readers to my novels, and publicity (a crucial ingredient for book store sales) is much, much easier to gain for non-fiction books. In other words, Simon Hertnon the novelist can piggy-back off Simon Hertnon the non-fiction author.
This was always likely to be the case so, while I still feel wistful about the shift, it’s not disappointing. It just is.
I’m sharing this news here because I know the small but passionate group of readers who have read and enjoyed The Julian Calendar naturally want to know what’s happening next.
Unfortunately, until I can secure a worthwhile international publishing deal (something extraordinarily rare for any novelist, let alone a New Zealand novelist), there is really no point continuing to publish novels – at least not as physical books. And until I find that publisher, I can’t even confirm which novel comes next. I had thought it would be one titled Par Avion, the first in a trilogy about lost letters, but a publisher might want something different. So, I am also chipping away at another novel that is the first in a series of six.
What happens to The Julian Calendar?
If you want to buy or recommend The Julian Calendar, the physical book will continue to be available in New Zealand until the 1000-copy first print run is sold out. We are unlikely to print more copies, so the first edition is looking like being a limited release. (Which means it may prove wise to hang on to a copy if you have one. I’ll certainly do my darnedest to make it a collectible!) Where to buy the book is still listed on this page.
I’m pleased to announce a digital book is again available in the form of a Kindle eBook from Amazon.com. The eBook hasn’t been available for the past year for two key reasons. First, the novel’s two-voice format best suits a physical book (using different fonts for each voice), and second, I wanted to preserve overseas sales for an international publishing partner. But I have decided to re-release the Kindle eBook for at least the duration of the pandemic response. My thinking is that in this strange time of social distancing, the novel’s first-person depiction of a loving and restorative friendship could provide readers with a welcome injection of social intimacy.
If you’re interested to learn why I can’t just publish more novels in New Zealand, keep an eye out for a future article on the issues and opportunities facing New Zealand novelists. Norms need to change and a possible pathway for transformation is steadily emerging, but it’s going to take a while.
Finally, I remain as delighted as ever that John’s voice will live on through Julian Marriot.
If I look ahead I see seasons untold: mine, his, ours.
I wanted to say to him, If you breathe, I breathe, but I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to tell him that spring is something you feel, no matter the time of year, or time of life. There is no order to emotion.‘Julian Marriot’ – The Julian Calendar
John won’t be alongside me on every cover and spine, but he will remain alongside me in every other way.