eSpec Books interviews Jeff Young, contributor to The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson, a tribute anthology, http://kck.st/1xu1DH9.
How did you meet CJ Henderson? I met C.J. at my first Balticon. I was at that point looking for authors to come visit the Watch the Skies Science Fiction and Fantasy reading group. So when C.J. hit me with the sales pitch, I threw one right back about coming and doing a signing. His response to me was, “So how many books will I sell?” Having just been hit with the sales pitch I responded, “Isn’t that up to you?” I think that took him back a little and after that we talked a little more about the practicalities of visiting the group. Sadly, that visit never occurred, but I saw him every Balticon that he made it to thereafter. I should say too that I did not escape; a copy of Baby’s First Mythos went home with me.
What is your favorite memory of him? My favorite memories of C.J. are of him reading. His expression and his tone conveyed the humor and snark that was cleverly layered into his work. I really think he was a natural reader and each reading he did was an experience rather than a task.
Of CJ’s vast body of works, which one has impacted you the most? That would be The Things That Are Not There. So many of Lovecraftian stories tend to happen in the woods, far off tiny towns or they happen to single observers who become unreliable witnesses. What happens is dismissible. It seems more urban legend than beyond reality. In this story the effects and damage are real and in the end on a rather massive scale. Here he’s taken the unreal and had it leave a swath of destruction that is undeniable and I felt that was a good twist on the standard.
What was it about his writing that spoke to you? I really enjoyed C.J.’s humor in his writing. He knew how to use it to enhance the human qualities of his characters and to defuse tension in the story. C.J. knew how to write slapstick and over the top goofiness as well and that’s not always easy to do without it feeling forced.
What is your favorite part of his sales pitch? “You shouldn’t walk off empty handed and you have two of them” C.J. knew how to banter and how to push without being obnoxious.
Can you share with us a non-convention memory involving CJ? Unfortunately, no. I only saw C.J. at conventions, but he was at a lot of them that I attended.
What is the one characteristic of CJ as a person that has stuck with you? Obviously, his sense of humor. It wasn’t just there in his writing; it was in nearly everything he said. It might have been snarky or sarcastic but it was done with style.
If you were to recommend just one of CJ’s books for a new reader to read, which one would it be and why? Definitely, The Things That Are Not There for all the reasons mentioned above. It’s a great intro to the Teddy London books and a wonderful example of what I enjoy about C.J.’s style.
For the interested reader, what are some of the books where they can find works by both you and CJ?
I’m actually proud to share the title page with C.J. in seven anthologies. From the Defending the Future series: By Other Means, Best Laid Plans, and Dogs of War. The science fiction anthology Fantastic Futures 13. The steampunk anthologies: Clockwork Chaos and In an Iron Cage: the Magic of Steampunk. I’ve also contributed a story to a forthcoming anthology in a shared world that C.J. created called The Ministry of Extraordinary Weapons.
What can you tell us about your contribution in The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson? “Finder” is actually set in one of my universes and what I wanted to happen in the story was to have my character consistently stumble over the efforts of the Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson. So while the main character is investigating the murder of one of his friends, he is also finding evidence of the various efforts of the society—including Rocky and Noodles ringing a bell with a collection barrel in Salvation Army fashion. The climax of the story actually occurs as a chase scene through a parade sponsored by the Society, the centerpiece of which is a float of C.J. wrestling with Cthulhu. Did I mention cursed diamonds, djinn, and terrorists? Guess I did now.
Is there anything you have written that was inspired by CJ? I would like to think that some of the humor in “Finder” is inspired by C.J.’s work. I know that we both shared an appreciation for things Lovecraftian so there certainly is a commonality there with anything in that vein that I’ve written.
What are some of your own works readers can look for? As well as the aforementioned anthologies, I also have stories in Writers of the Future V. 26 and the anthology that I was proud to help edit, TV Gods. There are several steampunk Kassandra Leyden stories available as ebooks, a collection of alternate history stories Within the Branches of Alternity available as an ebook and I have also contributed to a number of issues of The Realm Beyond and Trail of Indiscretion.
What projects of your own do you have coming up? Fortress Publishing will be bringing out a collection of my work as part of the Trail of Indiscretion Special Editions called Diversiforms. There are also several stories in other forthcoming anthologies, which will hopefully soon be available.
How can readers find out more about you? Check out my website here : http://jy.watchtheskies.org/
and also the SciFi & Fantasy discussion group that I help run, Watch the Skies, here : http://www.watchtheskies.org/
Learn more about the Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson here: http://kck.st/1xu1DH9
Read an excerpt from John’s story here:
Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.
He received a Writers of the Future award for “Written in Light” which appears in the 26th L.Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Anthology. Jeff has contributed to the anthologies By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Clockwork Chaos and Fantastic Futures 13, as well as the upcoming anthologies Gaslight and Grimm and The Ministry of Extraordinary Weapons. He is the editor for the Drunken Comic Book Monkey line for Fortress Publishing as well as the anthology TV Gods. He has led the Watch the Skies SF&F Discussion Group of Camp Hill and Harrisburg for thirteen years.