eSpec Books interviews John L. French, contributor to The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson, a tribute anthology,


How did you meet CJ Henderson? Before I started writing I discovered two small press magazines – Detective Story Magazine and Hardboiled. This was before computers and the Internet changed the publishing industry. I think both magazines were printed on photocopiers. CJ was one of the authors featured in both magazines. His fiction caused me to write my very first fan letter, which I sent to him in care of Detective Story Magazine. Its editor, Gary Lovisi, passed the letter on to CJ who responded. I wrote back and we got to be friends and later, writing buddies as well.

What is your favorite memory of him? There are so many, there are too many to pick just one.

Of CJ’s vast body of works, which one has impacted you the most? It would have to be the Jack Hagee series. It was the Hagee short stories that caused me to write to him. If they hadn’t, and I hadn’t, I would never have met him and my writing career (such as it is) would have probably consisted of a few short stories in various magazines.

What was it about his writing that spoke to you? On the most basic level, CJ’s stories are cynical looks at the human condition. But deep down, he’s an optimist and, yes, a romantic.

What is your favorite part of his sales pitch? It’s his pitch for To Battle Beyond. It’s the only book for which he had a prepared speech. “In the opening days of WWII, an ominous tome has fallen into the hands of the Japanese High Command. Can our heroes …”

Can you share with us a non-convention memory involving CJ? He was asked by DC Comics to pitch a story for DC’s Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight[1]. He did so on the spur of the moment. In typical CJ fashion, he came up with a story that did not involve Batman and sold it. In fact, he may have written the only story in a Batman book in which neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne make an appearance.

What is the one characteristic of CJ as a person that has stuck with you? His generosity. No matter how busy he was, he always took time to give advice to aspiring writers.

If you were to recommend just one of CJ’s books for a new reader to read, which one would it be and why? For hardboiled action it’s What You Pay For. For the supernatural it’s The Occult Detective of CJ Henderson. For science fiction fans it’s Steam Powered Love.

For the interested reader, what are some of the books where they can find works by both you and CJ? Our books are available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There are ebook versions of many of them. Look for the Dark Quest and Padwolf tables at conventions. And those interested can always email me for signed copies of my books.

What can you tell us about your contribution in The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson? When I was asked to contribute, I decided to write a story in which CJ needed saving. At first I thought to write a Jack Hagee story (CJ would have let me) and have Jack save CJ. But then I came up with the idea of a medieval knight who runs into the bard Seejay, son of Hender, at a fair.  CJ gave the nod and that was that. He got a chance to read the story and fully approved.

Is there anything you have written that was inspired by CJ? Directly – my contributions to Steam Powered Love and Challenge of the Unknown. Indirectly, my character Bianca Jones, who investigates the supernatural and paranormal for the Baltimore Police Department. When I started writing about Bianca, CJ was always there to tell me what I was doing right and, more importantly, what I was doing wrong. Most of his criticisms found their way into our story “Innocent Monsters” which teams Bianca with his Lai Wan (and which can be found in both Lai Wan, Tales of the Dream Walker and Here There Be Monsters, A Bianca Jones collection.

What are some of your own works readers can look for? For crime fiction there’s Past Sins, a collection of stories about a crime scene investigator who becomes a private eye, and The Devil of Harbor City, a novel about one brave cop out to clean up a corrupt town anyway he can. (The latter was CJ’s favorite of all my books).

For the supernatural there’s Bianca Jones in the above Here There be Monsters as well as Rites of Passage and Bullets and Brimstone. (The last two were written with Patrick Thomas)

For the more general tastes there’s Paradise Denied, a collection of my short stories (with an introduction by CJ).

What projects of your own do you have coming up? I have a collection of stories about my pulp fiction character The Nightmare called The Nightmare Strikes coming out in 2015 from Padwolf Publishing. I’m working on a second collection of Bianca Jones stories. And, probably of more interest to  those reading this, I’m editing two new CJ Henderson books – his young adult novel – Jac and Her Beanstalk and the long lost fourth Jack Hagee novel, No Torrent Like Greed. Both should be out sometime in 2015.

How can readers find out more about you? I’m a social media hermit. For reasons that have to do with my day job, I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and I don’t have a website. As I said, my books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and one can always email me.

Learn more about the Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson here:

Read an excerpt of John’s story here:

The Stories He Knows by John L. French


John L. French has worked for over thirty years as a crime scene investigator and has seen more than his share of murders, shootings and serious assaults. As a break from the realities of his job, he writes science fiction, pulp, horror, fantasy, and, of course, crime fiction. Since 1992 John has been writing stories partly based on his experiences on the streets of what some have called one of the most dangerous cities in the country. His books include The Devil of Harbor City, Past Sins, Souls on Fire, Here There Be Monsters and Paradise Denied. He’s also written several books with co-conspirator Patrick Thomas, the latest of which is The Assassins’ Ball. John is the editor of Bad Cop, No Donut,  Mermaids 13: Tales of the Sea, and With Great Power …. One of these days John will get a website and a Facebook page but in the meantime he can be contacted at


[1] Duty (105-106)  By C.J. Henderson, art by Trevor Von Eeden and Josef Rubenstein

When the Joker is broken out of Arkham by a terrorist group while Batman is working on a case in the Middle East, Captain James Gordon and Sergeant Harvey Bullock must find a way to stop the madman without the help of the caped crusader.

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