“…it is above all by imagination that we receive perception, compassion & hope.”
I suppose it should have been somewhat prophetic when Ursula Le Guin showed up at my college graduation as commencement speaker. Even though I walked away with my Liberal Arts Degree & a huge amount of inspiration, I had no idea I would ever attempt to pursue my dream of writing a novel.
I was fortunate enough to semi-retire a few years ago from work within the California State College System doing Administrative Assistant & Office Management work. I feel lucky that I got to work at CSU Chico, CSU Sacramento & Sonoma State University. Huzzah for higher education! Somewhere around that time I woke up from a dream with an image of a young women, lying wounded in a cave under the protection of a wolf and a bear. That intrigued me enough to sit down at my computer and start typing. Since that initial start, their spirits have sat resolutely on my shoulder to tell me their story. They have not been shy.
While my story idea is truly inspired, my first attempts at writing were awful. After some brutally honest feedback at a writers conference I got serious, took a writing class, began reading current fantasy authors non-stop and continued with a renewed commitment to my writers group. My story and my writing skills have improved tremendously over the last four years because of my efforts to listen to criticism, rewrite, edit, throw-out and submit for more feedback. I literally tossed my first 40K words. Difficult, but necessary.
I took a short side journey into writing non-fiction & my piece on leading grade school children on nature hikes at a local preserve was published in a regional anthology which is currently available on Amazon.com. (Sonoma, Stories of a Region & It’s People, Robert Digitale, Editor, 2017).
When I’m not working or writing, my spouse Diane and I are out hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore or in one of the many beautiful regional parks in our area. I also volunteer at our local library, where I use my prior experience as a used/rare book buyer for a locally owned bookstore to help them sort donations. What a thrill to go through all the piles of donated books looking for treasures! They are sold in our Friends of the Library bookstore to raise funds for special programs & the really valuable volumes get listed on Amazon & EBay.
Another passion is collecting old cookbooks from the 50’s, 60’s & early 70’s…not the glossy, fancy ones, but the one that were self-published by the local church ladies, PTA and home economics teachers. I plan to resurrect a selection these nostalgic, comfort food recipes from our past into a series of cookbooks. Follow me on Twitter (@jlhenker) for updates on my progress on this project as well as my upcoming fantasy novel (Cave of Whispers, mid-2020).