13 Questions with Henry Snider

This episode’s featured author is Henry Snider, who is well known for his work with the Colorado Springs Fiction Writer’s Group as well as his photography. He has a background in the occult and parapsychology, which is the study of psychic abilities and various other paranormal happenings.

Mr. Snider is such a fountain of interesting and useful information, I had a difficult time cutting our interview down to 13 questions.

So lets get down to business…I asked Henry how it felt to be the featured author of Horror Addicts episode 36: Frankenstein. He said , “It feels fantastic…and fitting. I have an artificial knee and the body/not my body concept strikes close to home.”

The title of Snider’s featured story is Thump, the reason which he wouldn’t share. But I was able to get a little information about the story from him. “…[M]idgets in tutus sporting chainsaws, what else is there? Seriously, I’d have to say I hope I’ve envisioned a slightly different view of the mad doctor, though I made sure the monster makes an appearance. I mean, what would Frankenstein be without the monster?”

Though he may relate to the concept of the Frankenstein monster. Good ‘ol Frankie is not Henry’s favorite monster. “While zombies are my favorite movie monster (and for the record I was a fan since the original Dawn of the Dead was in theaters), I’d actually have to say children are my favorite horror monster. I realized this a few years back while on vacation with my family. Hollie and I were road surfing. Now for those of you who don’t know what road surfing is, try picking a direction and just start driving…then let everyone in the vehicle take turns picking which way to go when you get to an intersection.”

“So, we were surfing and ended up a few miles out of Guilford, Indiana (cue banjo music), and came across this amazing abandoned house. We explored a bit and took a few pictures. Once around back I looked into the basement and saw seven pairs of silver eyes looking back at me. Now, this was late August but I could’ve sworn November just set in. I looked closer and seven gray children looked up from the gloom, some blinking. I prepared to do my best impersonation of Disney’s Ichabod Crane, but dared one last glimpse. Seven pairs of eyes all right, only they belonged to a family of raccoons nesting in the piles of who-knows-whats left in the cellar. From that point on, children, especially those that stare, give me an icy chill. I think it’s the purity of their emotions that hits a raw nerve.”

Henry was one of the founding members of the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group. In which he has held the position of President, Secretary, Webmaster, and Vice President, the position he continues to hold today. Interested in the CSFWG, I asked Snider to explain what it is they do. He replied, “You mean aside from act the literary equivalent to A.A.? Believe it or not, in many ways that statement’s not a joke. Think about it, red eyes, disheveled hair, unbathed (if we were in the middle of a really good scene), smelling of alcohol (if we were in the middle of a really bad scene). Readers enjoy writing, but often don’t understand writers. We’re quirky, opinionated, cranky (we mustn’t forget cranky), and those are just the good days. Writers need peer interaction, be it snagging a beer and complaining about the latest project to editing each others work in the hopes of helping create the best prose possible.”

Then he continued, “With that in mind, each of the three CSFWG groups meets once per month for three hours. Physical submissions are given and the previous month’s critiqued works are returned to authors, followed by oral critiques given by each member. This is the core of what we do – peer fellowship, literary twelve step program (“To Be” verbs are number six) and holding the occasional class or contest.”

Well known for his tasteful semi-nude photography, I asked Snider what got him started taking the photographs? He told me that “…believe it or not it was the customers. Many want a photo to show the world they’re incredibly desirable, but don’t have the Elle magazine figure. Once they saw that I could enhance their “concern” areas through posing (that’s the real secret) and completely remove others through digital wizardry word of mouth had me shooting 30% boudoir. I personally believe what you don’t show entices the critic more than what you do.”

I wondered if Henry took the photos for purely artistic reasons or if he took them for paying customers or a little of both. He said that it was all of the above, then added, “Often it’s people wanting to still look like themselves, only the “best” version possible. So after a photo shoot’s done I’ll soften wrinkles, digitally remove a few pounds, put curves where they were a couple of years before, etc..”

Curious, I asked what he enjoyed more…writing or photography? His response was interesting and thoughtful… “Oh, what an unfair question. Prose is creating a story through words and photography is telling a story through one single second of life that will never be repeated. I believe them two sides of the same coin. However, since you’ve pressed me on this one I’d have to say writing. I’ve loved the written word my whole life and only discovered photography in recent years.”

Snider’s publications include Penny For Your Thoughts “…one of [Snider’s] many salutes to H.P. Lovecraft. The tale revolves around a typical nerdy kid – every school has one – quiet, glasses, often carries forgotten demonic tomes around. Well this particular child comes across a way to resolve his bully issue.”

As well as Crossroads, which, “is actually a spin off from actual events that happened. I was visiting family in the back hills of Missouri (cue banjo music again) and passed the same model car I was riding in. Now at the time the car couldn’t have been over five years old, yet this one was in the weeds at a crossroads and rusted to the point of appearing decades older. One legal pad later Crossroads was born. A side note for authors, don’t watch television while you write. I had Peg and Kelly, ala Married With Children, running a restaurant.

Mr. Snider was in a two wrecks not that long ago. I asked if he would share a bit of the story and if it the experience has affected his writing in any way. “In both [wrecks] my vehicle was stopped and obeying traffic laws. The first cost me a knee, though now I have a shiny new one with a warranty, and the second scrambled my egg a bit. So it’s taking me a bit to get back into the literary swing of things, but I’d have to say it’s definitely affected my writing. Mechanically I’m brushing up on things I taught a couple of years ago and stylistically I’ve learned to relax and just let the story create itself. Now if you meant from a personal perspective I realized that writing a story means nothing if not shared, so beginning in 2010 I’m writing for publication (finally).”

Since Henry is apart of the CSFWG and since he is a published author I figured he would have some great advice for all you writers out there. To keep the interview short (I had already gotten to 24 questions in our interview) I asked, what I thought to be the two most asked questions out there. Do you have any tips for writers trying to get published? And, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Snider had plenty of useful information to share…“be true to your characters. Don’t be afraid to let your characters be what they are, warts and all. Dudley Doright was annoying as a cartoon hero – you don’t want him as your protagonist. Let readers have revelations alongside the characters. It builds a bond that keeps people coming back for more. In retrospect, let evil characters have a human side, something that makes the reader identify with him/her/it. A sense of unease is what you create because the reader glimpses themselves in the very thing they despise. To me, at least, believable characters are the key to getting work published for others to enjoy.”

And his advice for aspiring authors was this, “Write like you speak. If not, your prose, especially your dialogue, will sound stilted. Take a while, go to the mall where people of all ages are and just listen. You’ll hear “salt and pepper” dialogue (speakers interrupting themselves, or others cutting in for inane reasons), slang, dialects, manipulations, flirtations…and if you plant yourself too near the bathrooms – constipations, all there for you, the writer, to sponge for your prose. Let those around you be your teachers and inspiration. Just listen. Remember – no one ever learned anything through an open mouth.”

As well as having a My Space profile, Mr. Snider has his own website, which, is “currently in the middle of a rebuild.” Henry stated that “[o]nce completed the site will feature a bit of prose, my photography and a little imagery. The writing could be anything from some previously published religious nonfiction (no folks, that’s not a joke – how’s that for scary?), basic rants, publications and, of course, horror. Photography offers an outlet for me that doesn’t involve a computer, a dark room and my horrific muse – the visage of Rush Limbaugh in a hot pink thong. My photographs encompass everything from landscapes to models posing for specific projects. As for the Imagery – find me on Flickr or Second Life and enjoy the vampiric crack whore images. There’s nothing like having friends with equally twisted imaginations who like to model.”

To end our interview I asked the question I always do to wrap everything up. Do you have any projects that you’re currently working on that your fans can look forward to? Snider had this to say, “I have a few irons in the fire. Every short story ends up running at 10,000+ words. Even this story is the third attempt at a Frankenstein story for Horror Addicts. The first two were shelved at 15,000 and 8,600 words respectively. Each is a different vision of Shelly’s characters and will be completed in due time. Future works include a Lovecraftian novel I’ve played with for a few years, monstrous babies, haunted homesteads, Colorado mines and, of course, children.”

If you would like to learn more about Henry Snider you can visit him at these sites:

Henry Snider’s personal website – www.henrysnider.com

My Space profile – www.myspace.com/nightmarescribe

Second Life – http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sukotraz/152/176/68

And the Colorado Springs Fiction Writer’s Group website – www.csfwg.org