Introducing William Henry

Introducing William Henry

More than ten years before I published Clear, Concise Compelling and Endangered Words, I attempted to establish myself as a novelist and screenwriter.

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 overwritten manuscript 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. As my skills developed, my responsibilities grew and my free time diminished. I simply didn’t have the time needed to write and polish novels and screenplays ‘on spec’. Meanwhile, fiction readers were becoming distracted by a tsunami of digital content and gadgets, making selling traditional novels even harder than before.

Twenty-five years on, the time is right. Stories like mine – simple stories of love, loss, resolve, and redemption – are the ideal antidote to a digital malaise.

So, I would like to introduce you to William Henry – Simon as the novelist I think I was always destined to be.

My simple philosophy still permeates my fiction writing, 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, which I have published here in New Zealand. 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 in May 2018. He was 89.

Image from the article Dear John in the March 2019 issue of Capital Magazine

Article about Simon and John, Capital Magazine, March 2019 (pages 65—66)

William is my middle name, and Henry is John’s middle name. We were what you might call ‘soulmates’, 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 novel he helped me to write.

“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.

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