Introducing William Henry
I was in my mid-20s, gorging on novels (like The Crow Road by Iain Banks) and films (like The Shawshank Redemption), but my first manuscript (a co-authored, unedited, 144,000-word version of The Julian Calendar) didn’t make the grade. More work would be needed.
Looking back, the timing wasn’t right, and not just because I needed to become a better writer. I couldn’t afford the incredible investment of time required to write entertaining novels and screenplays. The world was also increasingly fascinated with digital novelties and would have had little interest in youthful analogue stories of love, loss, resolve, and redemption.
Twenty-five years on, the time is right. Stories like mine are the ideal antidote to a digital malaise – that feeling that life is more about technology than humans, and more about soundbites and celebrity than love and yearning and earnest endeavours.
So, I would like to introduce you to William Henry – Simon as the novelist I was always destined to be.
My simple philosophy still permeates my novels, but in a creative form, spiced with humour, adventure, and hard-fought triumphs.
William Henry, the pen name I will use for all my fiction, stems from the true-life story behind my first novel, The Julian Calendar. This story is about the remarkable friendship I developed with John Garmonsway (a master bookseller) in London in 1992. The friendship defied classification and lasted, as he predicted it would, until he took his last breath earlier this year. He was 89.
William is my middle name, and Henry is John’s middle name. He was my soulmate, and it feels only right to honour the influence of his life-changing friendship through my fiction pen name. I am delighted that his voice will also live on in the ‘Julian’ chapters of The Julian Calendar.
“Hello. You must be Daniel. I’m Julian.”
I made an effort to sound cheery and was quite sure the young man standing before me noticed the slightly artificial tone to my voice. He smiled (to put me at ease?) and I saw that he had an open, childlike quality, yet a grown-up presence and face; the face not old-looking, you understand, but showing a certain strength of character. I was instantly intrigued.