Interview with D. Allen Henry

Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Larry McMurtry, Jane Austen, Robert Graves, Michael Grant, Robert Goddard, Colleen McCullough, and I could go on and on...
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Every day is a new opportunity to learn. When I learn something useful, it is also an opportunity to impart that knowledge to others.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote my first story when I was sixteen years old, and for some reason I kept it. Years later I came across it, and I was so disappointed in my former self that I trashed it immediately. My stories are plot driven, and in my view, one needs to experience life before one can write it. Hopefully, I have now experienced enough of life, both good and bad, to be able to impart both pleasure and wisdom effectively via my novels.
What is your writing process?
Easy question, complicated answer. I first conceive of a storyline, and this is perhaps the most difficult part. It can take years and years before I am sufficiently invested in a particular story to begin writing it. In fact, as I write this, I have no less that a dozen storylines within my future books file, most of which will never be written. In the second part, I begin to flesh out the main characters and to describe the setting for the story. This part usually constitutes ten to fifteen percent of the novel. If I am sufficiently attracted to my story by the time I complete this phase, I then become extremely introverted for weeks on end, as I enter into the fictional world of my storyline. In this, the third phase, I write furiously right to the end of my novel. When I reach this point, I come up for air, and I divorce myself from the story for quite a lengthy period of time, sometimes as much as years. It takes me such a length of time to distance myself from my overly high opinion of my work. Oftentimes, this distancing is accomplished via the writing of another novel. When I feel sufficiently detached from my novel I will return to it for phase four, and this time, I work to improve grammar, correct typos, and create a style that is commensurate with the story I am attempting to impart. I then detach myself from my work yet again, this time for perhaps a few months, and when I return to it, I initiate the fifth and final phase, in which I delve deeply into the plot itself, in the process fine tuning the details that hold the story together. At the completion of this phase I normally publish my work, but I must confess that I am never completely happy with the final product, so much so that I am prone to publish revised editions on occasion.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I really don't remember the first story I ever read. What I do remember is that when I was in the seventh grade, my English teacher, Mr. Bailey, approached my mother and asked if she would allow him to tutor me in literature. There is no doubt in my mind that I owe my writing compulsion to him, and I shall be forever grateful for what he did for me. He drove me through Dickens, Defoe, Hugo, Austen, Twain, Melville, and even some Shakespeare, all of which only deepened my compulsion to read, read, read...and eventually to write as well.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design...this is marketing. In my view, the best way to determine the effect of a cover is to perform a marketing survey. Marketing surveys are best performed by extroverts, whereas I am an introvert, especially when I am writing. I therefore count myself a poor judge of covers. I have read that one way to devise covers is to check out the covers of recent best sellers, but in my view, most of them are not very well done. So I go off in my own direction, and since I am skilled at software tools such as Photoshop, I am able to do interesting things with photos and drawings. I will typically take some photos of my own, and oftentimes I will make some drawings as well. I also usually surf on the internet for uncopyrighted photos that represent my storyline. I then make several different versions of covers for my novel, and then I fly them by my wife, who is my most challenging critic. Between the two of us, we normally decide what we think is the best of my various attempts. I would say that of my seven novels to date, I have probably produced at least a dozen different covers for every one of them.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My favorite books are mostly nonfiction due to the fact that I am an academic. But since my genre here is fiction, I suppose it would be best to mention my favorite novels. Off the top of my head, I would include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion, both for their historical value and Jane Austen's consummate skill at character development. My favorite twentieth century books would include I, Claudius, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Killer Angels, Lonesome Dove, The Pillars of the Earth, and The Caine Mutiny. For me these books contain just the right mixture of character development and plot dynamics, and they all revolve around a deep moral message.
What do you read for pleasure?
These days, I read mostly history for pleasure. Toward that end, I like the books by H. W. Brands. When I want to read something light, I often pick a novel by Robert Goddard.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm old-fashioned - I still prefer paper. My day job requires me to use a computer long hours, so paper is my escape. When I must necessarily e-read, I use a laptop.
Describe your desk
My desk is always neat and organized. As I write this, I have on my desk only pictures of my loved ones, an open dictionary, and a cup of tea...oh, and a ball cap that reads 'writer'.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in Texas. I've never owned a pair of cowboy boots, and I do not own a firearm. My parents were both highly educated, and they drove me through my schooling, to the point that I was quite an overachiever. I wanted to study either English or engineering in college. Ultimately, I chose the latter for pragmatic reasons. I've never regretted that choice, but I've also never lost my love of literature and the arts. For instance, I am multilingual (French and Italian), and I am a reasonably adept pianist. Still, my career has been on the technical side of academia. The event that turned me to writing occurred during the summer of my senior year in college, when I went to Italy as an exchange student and worked in an aircraft plant. That summer changed my life, to the point that I eventually began teaching study abroad programs when I became a professor. To date I have taught thirty-five study abroad programs on four continents. The travel, the social interactions, the acquired knowledge, all gained from those international experiences - these are the essential ingredients that gave me the ability to conceive of intricate plot driven stories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is My Father the God. This book is a semi-autobiographical book in the sense that the main character is an academic. If the reader is perceptive, she/he will discover underpinnings of Machiavellis' masterpiece The Prince embedded within the storyline.
What are you working on next?
Larry McMurtry claims that he thought about writing the novel that became Lonesome Dove for quite some time before he actually began. The story goes that he saw the phrase 'Lonesome Dove' written on the side of a bus, and he immediately went home and began typing. I function much the same way. There are several stories germinating in my head all the time, but when that bus comes along that pushes me over the edge, my next novel will commence of its own accord.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
At first I attempted to publish via the traditional method - seeking out an agent. I found this method tedious, impersonal and, frankly - useless. While searching on the internet I came across Mark Coker's books on e-publishing and I read them with dubious interest. I didn't buy in at first, but eventually I recognized that e-publishing agrees with my personality. I want to control the distribution of my novels, and this genre fits my persona. After all, I am writing as a compulsive pastime rather than as a financial necessity.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I am writing for posterity. Writing, if one does it well, makes one immortal. Though I cannot, my words will live on forever.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My favorite pastime is travel. I have seen much of the world, and hopefully it shows in my writing.
Published 2015-05-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Merging Destiny
Series: Sutherland Saga, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 81,630. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
(3.00 from 1 review)
Sutherland Saga Part 6. When Elspeth Moorehead’s parents are killed in the Lockerbie bombing, Elspeth vows that she will someday avenge their horrendous murder. Her promise evolves into the quest of a lifetime, carrying her across continents and cultures, in the process subjecting her to numerous perilous obstacles. Spanning a quarter of a century, her exploits will change the world.
Finding Patience
Series: Sutherland Saga, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 76,190. Language: English. Published: May 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Sutherland Saga Part 4. When Patience Walker is kidnapped on a cold winter’s night, her life is changed forever. Having met her on that very day, college professor Brandt MacCauley takes on the challenge of finding her. Spanning fifteen years, his quest will not only change both of their lives, it will ultimately alter both the Earldom of Winston and the course of history.
Enlisting Redemption
Series: Sutherland Saga, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 88,800. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Sutherland Saga Part 3. When twenty-one year old college student Trevor Sutherland enlists Rebecca Carey to perform in a birthday party performance, it leads to a heinous crime. Her subsequent disappearance will ultimately send Trevor on a decade long quest for redemption, one fraught with intrigue, deception, and ultimately murder.
My Father the God
Series: Sutherland Saga, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 87,980. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Sutherland Saga Part 5. Having completed his first year at Harvard University in Boston, Scotsman Sloan Stewart begins the summer of 1941 working at an inn with his friends James, Isolde and Sabrina. But entanglements lead to a shocking event that will transform each of them irrevocably. Suffering through deception, war, and personal loss, can Sloan ever surmount the errors of his youth?
Of War and Women
Series: Sutherland Saga, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 84,430. Language: English. Published: April 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Sutherland Saga Part 2. When Lady Margaret Sutherland holds a farewell party on the eve of the Battle of Britain, deceitful events of that night will echo throughout World War II, thereby leading to heinous crimes that will change the lives of those present forever. In the end, not only will the Earldom of Winston be affected, but the course of the entire war will be irrevocably altered.
Those Who Fought for Us
Series: Sutherland Saga, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 81,940. Language: English. Published: April 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Sutherland Saga Part 1. When Robert Sutherland and his friend Alastair Stewart meet fellow students Elizabeth Turnberry and Margaret MacCreedy in a pub in Edinburgh in the fall of 1913, relationships develop and dreams unfold. But the outbreak of war in the summer of 1914 will lead to deception, incarceration and murder. Is there hope at all for those who fought for us?
Hawk Banks - Founding Texas
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 119,020. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
Revised Edition. Pairing up with Texas frontiersman Hank MacElrae, the inimitable Bostonian Hawk Banks sets off in quest of adventure on the Plains of Texas. A distinctly incompatible pair, the two manage to make their unlikely friendship work and, enduring all manner of unlikely events, they succeed in finding their way into the heart of Texas, becoming founding fathers of a new nation.