Name Henry Walton
Age; Are we talking chronologically or emotionally. Let’s just say I am old enough to have experienced a lot and young enough to still be amazed at the magic of this world.
Where are you from?
I was born in Seattle shortly after my parents moved there from England and I lived there into my 30s. Then I lived in California for a few years before moving to Minneapolis.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and started college with a focus on creative writing. Later, I switched to a technology degree and have spent my career working in industrial process automation, first as an engineer and later in marketing. My wife, children and I now live in Minnesota.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My most recent book, The Journals of Thaddeaus Shockpocket Book Two –Victoria, was launched in April. At the same time, I was named as a finalist in the 2015 Steampunk Chronicles Readers Choice Awards for Best Children’s Steampunk Fiction. Both books are enjoying success both in North America and Europe.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing as long as I can remember. I still have copies of stories that I wrote in grade school. I love creating stories and crafting words to not only paint scenes but trigger emotion. It turns out that I do best at humor and the emotion I trigger most is laughter.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably in grade school. My teachers and parents always provided strong positive feedback to my stories and I realized I might actually be good at this thing that I do for pure escape and pleasure.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
After years of writing technical papers and marketing materials I just decided it was time to return to my first passion of writing fiction. I had recently lost my job and my wife suggested I take time off from the corporate world and write a book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My style is very tongue-in-cheek. I want to make people laugh as they read about the ups and downs of life.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For The Journals of Thaddeaus Shockpocket, I wanted the writing to be first person so we could get a glimpse inside of Thaddeaus’ head and understand the world through his eyes. Having the stories come from his journals just made sense. The first book ALBION 77 is named after the airship that plays a central role in the story. The second book, VICTORIA, is the named for the medal for scientific achievement that the Shockpockets hope to win in order to validate their legitimacy as true scientists.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The series is meant to be humorous and make people laugh out loud at the misadventures of the Shockpockets but there are several messages within the stories. The astute reader picks up on the fact that, were they alive today, Thaddeaus would be labeled attention deficit, Sherlock would be obsessive compulsive, and Tweak would be hyperactive. Even Katherine would probably be labeled as a bit introverted and bookish. But in spite of their unique personalities and some of the calamity they cause, they all persevere and live life their way. These are stories of empowerment and a family that thrives because it is true to its personal beliefs.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The stories take place in the real world of the turn of the century, so the Shockpockets interact with historical people, places and events that occurred at that time. Most of the inventions Thaddeaus comes up with have some scientific basis to them. That is the engineer in me coming through. I have replicated some of his creations, such as the thistle and wild flower hair coloring, just to see if they work. Overall, the stories are historical fantasy, but I think the interactions of the family with the world and within themselves are very realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I would be lying if I denied that several of the characters are based on my family. My father was English and my mother American, like Thaddeaus’ parents in the books, and my father was the picture of an English gentleman and adventurer. I grew up hearing tales of his time as a pilot in the R.A.F. during World War II and was always surrounded by my parents’ English friends telling stories. My father was also an adventurer and a bit absent minded sometimes getting our family into a number of predicaments, a few somewhat hazardous. But we always had fun and I grew up loving the vast variety of learning experiences the world presented to us. Like Thaddeaus, I like to invent and have come up with several useless inventions of my own. I have also traveled extensively around the world.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading The Ocean at the End of the Road by Neil Gaiman.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
A little over a year ago I was introduced to the writings of Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I think he is an absolute master wordsmith. Typically, when I read a book, I move through it rapidly catching the gist of the story. But from the first page of The Shadow of the Wind, I found that he makes every word count and I spend time soaking in each sentence. It takes me longer to read his books because I lose myself in the words and the pictures he paints on every page.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am currently wrapping up book three in the Thaddeaus Shockpocket series and hope to launch it by year’s end.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
If I could make a living at writing full time I would definitely make it my sole career however, until that time arrives, I still need my ‘day job’.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I am quite happy with my latest book and don’t think I would change anything.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t actually recall how it started as it always seems to have been there. Not too long ago, I found a box filled with my schoolwork from grade school and in it were stories I wrote at that time. The teachers’ notes on the stories always stated that I was a talented writer and should stay with it. Perhaps that positive feedback nurtured my desire to write. And, of course, my mother was a writer and she always encouraged me to write.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I don’t know if I would call it a challenge, but it is definitely time consuming to fact check dates and historical events that occur in the world of the Shockpockets. Even though the stories are complete fiction and are full of imagined inventions and events, I try to make the world they take place in as accurate as possible. I never state what year the stories occur in within the books, but every story is mapped out in my office on calendars for the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds. For example, in book one, the Shockpocket’s fly over Wimbledon and photograph the tennis tournaments from their airship. I needed to verify the earliest dates of the Wimble matches to ensure they fell within the time line of the story. The up side of this is that I have learned a great deal about the details of this time period.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have several favorites but, if I need to name one, it is Neil Gaiman. I completely lose myself in his stories and the alternate realities he creates and that is the best experience when reading a book. His stories are layered with messages and are, quite simply, a good read.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I could probably write my stories without traveling but I think that fact that I have been to the places the Shockpockets travel to helps me picture them better and hopefully comes through in the stories. I have been fortunate in my life to travel through Southeast Asia, China, South America, Africa, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. My time in those regions and with the local residents has given me an appreciation for locations and cultures that I hope comes through in the stories.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All of the chapter art is by William Kevin Petty. I especially like his whimsical style and ability to capture the feel of the stories. He also designs the covers.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The rewriting and editing process are the most time consuming part of writing books. The story ideas and first drafts come quickly but then there are days of rewriting a page or even a sentence until it flows the way it should. The fine tuning phase takes months until my editor forces me to stop and give him the manuscripts. Then he makes his comments and that starts the final round of rewriting before we finally go to print.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Nicola Tesla. He was a man out of sync with his times and, in many ways, ahead of them. It would be great to bring him to present day and see what he makes of the world we have created.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Favorite films: Princess Bride, Stardust, Monty Python In Search of the Holy Grail
Favorite television shows: Historical Documentaries, Murdoch Mysteries, Sherlock, Pinky and the Brain
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?