CJ Henderson is the creator of both the Jack Hagee hardboiled PI series and the Teddy London supernatural detective series. He is also the author of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies, several score novels, plus hundreds of short stories and thousands of non-fiction pieces. In the wonderful world of comics he has written everything from Batman and the Punisher to Archie and Cherry Poptart. Learn more about CJ at: www.cjhenderson.com.
Lori G: Hi CJ, thanks for taking the time to chat a bit
about your new Moonstone book: Lai Wan.|
Lai Wan is a supporting cast member in your series of supernatural detective novels: The Teddy London series. Can you give our readers a brief overview of the Teddy London series?
CJ: Teddy London was created to prove ordinary human beings could stand up to the supernatural forces created by H.P. Lovecraft. Although I love his stuff, I got a bit annoyed when the protagonists always just swooned, crying, “the horror, the horror.” No one ever called the cops, or the army, bought a gun, anything. They were always just overwhelmed. So, I created London, and as I started the first novel, I quickly discovered that if he was going to survive, he was going to need help. Thus the vast volume of supporting characters.
Lori G: How about some specific info about our beautiful new girl on the block: Lai Wan?Who is she and what is her story so far, before the comics begin?
CJ: Before either the comic or the novels, Lai Wan is just a simple, ordinary Asian woman who gets crushed in a bus accident. She dies on the operating table, then returns to life after being dead for a short while. When she awakens, she finds she has the power to tell a thing’s history by touching it. Of course, since she wakes up in a hospital bed, a thing that has a history of pain and death, she almost loses her mind, but eventually she gets her powers under control. Before the first issue, she has established herself in NYC as someone who can find missing things, talk to the dead, et cetera. She keeps a low profile, because she shuns the public (crowds of people or even a few people intently focusing on her can be painful). The first issue finds her when she has her life put back together finally, a few weeks before the first London novel.
Lori G: How did the Lai Wan comic book series come
about? Have you always considered her to
be a character that would lend well to the medium?
CJ: Joe Gentile, the head of Moonstone, is a fan of my novels. It was all his idea. I would never have had the nerve to launch a book about a female character who doesn’t show off her body, doesn’t carry a gun or use martial arts (heck, she doesn’t even like to touch people), et cetera. I think he’s one of the most courageous publishers I’ve ever met. He never worries about appealing to the worst of the crowd, he’s always looking for books that do one of two things, that he personally loves, or that he thinks will stand the test of time. He is one in a million.
Lori G: CJ, do you have a target audience in mind for this book? I personally think Vertigo readers will really enjoy this series, and Lovecraft fans too!
CJ: I agree. That’s a big chunk of the market, but that’s who I think will like this book. It certainly is more for the feminists in the crowd.
Lori G: Ok CJ, now I am going to ask you to give a summery of what readers can expect in these first couple issues of Lai Wan. What kind of creepiness do you have in store?
CJ: Lai Wan doesn’t lend herself to the kinds of things people have seen before. She’s much more a reactive than a proactive character. She’s not an avenger or any kind of superhero. She’s a person with a skill who would simply like to support herself and be left alone. She dislikes the public, and people in general, mainly because she can see their innermost secrets without trying. She’s dark and alone and wishing she had died because the insight she’s gained has cut her off from humanity. She’s not a particularly happy gal.
Lori G: CJ, how did you come up with the idea of using a psychometric in one of your novels? Heck, while you are at it, why don’t you tell our readers what a “psychometric” is?
CJ: Over the years I’ve known a lot of cops, FBI agents, detectives, CSI men, et cetera. I do my detective stories in as real a world as possible. More than once over the years I’ve come in contact with lawmen who had worked with psychometrists in their time, and even met one myself.
Now, you have to understand that when I write, I don’t use an outline. The first London novel, The Things That Are Not There, was the first supernatural novel I ever wrote, and only the second thing—comic, short story, novel—that I ever wrote with horror in it. It was pretty new ground for me. It was written as a detective novel first and foremost, because that was what I was comfortable with writing. So, when it was time for London and the crew he had assembled to get some information that couldn’t be gotten by anyone but a psychometric, well, I just created one.
Lori G: What was your inspiration for Lai Wan?
CJ: My wife is Chinese, and a lot of Lai comes from her.
Lori G: The Teddy London series of novels is heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. What is it about ol’ H.P. that drives you to write stories based on his Mythos?
CJ: As I said earlier, I started writing about the mythos to prove we don’t have to fear the darkness, that we can prevail over the horrors that lurk in the shadows all around us. Throwing your hands up in fear just isn’t my way of handling things. I’m always aware that I can crash and burn just as easy as the next guy, but not trying just doesn’t go down well with me. That’s what got me to write the first one, anyway. After that, I simply had to know what was going to happen with London and the rest of the gang.
Lori G: You are currently writing one of our ALL NEW Kolchak
Wide-vision graphic novels here at Moonstone: "Kolchak: the Loveraftian Horror".
That too has a healthy dose of Lovecraftian lore contained therein.
Can you tell our readers a bit about that
too, while we are on the topic of Lovecraft and all his dark imaginings?|
CJ:My widescreen graphic novel takes Carl to a spot in California infested with Deep Ones. For those non-mythos readers, these are people who have prayed to the Elder Gods so devoutly that they’ve been transformed into a kind of fish person, ala the Creature from the Black Lagoon. What I do in my story is tie Lovecraft’s mythos closer to my own London universe (but if I tell you how, I ruin the story, so I’m gonna shut up here).
Lori G: CJ, you have also written a short story in our Kolchak Chronicles anthology and two of our Kolchak graphic novels: Pain Most Human, and Pain without Tears. Were you always a Kolchak fan? What is it about the character that has made you come back to him time and again?
CJ: I liked the first TV movie when it first came out. The show I thought was cheesy in comparison, but I loved the character. Indeed, I liked the idea so much, I created my own team of TV investigative reporters years later, and even won a best short story of the year award with one of the stories. So, when Joe Gentile at Moonstone offered me a crack at Kolchak (because of, not only my work with London, but also because he’d seen my revamp job on Lin Carter’s supernatural detective, Anton Zarnak, and Lovecraft’s own Inspector Legrasse), I jumped on it. And, after the fun I had writing the first one, I’ve just kept harassing him for more and more work on the character.
Lori G: So CJ, what other projects are you currently working
on? Do we have more novels, short
stories, and comics to look forward to?|
CJ: All my comic work is at Moonstone right now. At the moment I’m concentrating on Lai Wan and Kolchak, although Joe has some other ideas on the griddle that we’re cooking up. I’m always doing short stories. I have stories in upcoming issues of Inhuman, Cemetery Dance, CthulhuSex, the Nth Degree, and a slew of anthologies. As for novels, there will be a new Teddy London novel later this year, and a Kolchak novel as well. In November the collection, Bet Your Own Man, a study of my hardboiled fiction, will be coming out, and by that time there should be about ten new anthologies with stories of mine as well. Anyone interested should just check out my website. I try to keep the news section updated, and then there’s always free short stories for those who are interested.
Lori G: After being an accomplished fiction writer how did
you get sucked into our little world of craziness, at least as a
side-project? What was your first comic
book gig and how long ago was that?>|
CJ: Actually, I was always a comics reader, and always wanted to write them. Yes, I actually had to become a novelist before I got to do any comics, but the first work in comics I got to do was a book called Ninja, at Eternity Comics. Ninja was the code-name for a female army officer who was a member of an elite team called the Suiciders. I did a lot of books for Eternity while it was around, but finally graduated to the big leagues and got to work at Archie, Marvel and DC as well as a lot of the smaller places. I got to write Batman, and that put a lot of howling voices to rest within my mind. When you want to write comics from the age of 8 on up, getting to write Batman let’s you know you’ve made it.
Lori G: As a final note CJ, I like to ask all of my
interview victims, if you had one super power, what would it be and why?|
CJ: I think the power I could handle most effectively is the ability to make people stop and tell the truth. Not what they think is the truth, but to be able to force them to stop, think, search, and drag the real, honest truth about things up from where they’ve hidden it from the world and themselves and to shine a light on it for all to see.
And, oddly enough, I’ve just realized that that’s what Lai Wan does, in effect. Maybe that’s why I like writing her so much.
Lori G: Well my thanks to our pal CJ Henderson for taking time out of his busy schedule to pimp his newest project here at Moonstone: Lai Wan (shipping in April, 32 pages, color, $2.99) She’s sexy, she’s mysterious, and she’s a pretty damn powerful woman, be sure to check out her debut here at Moonstone in April! The Kolchak Chronicles is still available here on our website and both of CJ’s Kolchak graphic novels are in the new collected edition: Kolchak the Night Stalker, Terror From Within, 150 pages, color, $16.95. It will be shipping in early March, so check that out! It also will reprint the Bram Stoker nominated story: Devil in the Details. Lots of CJ fun here at Moonstone! Until next time children, Moonstone Gal out!
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Friday, July 25, 2014