John Wisniewski: Could you tell us about writing your latest book “With Her Fists”? What inspired you to write?
Henry Roi: It began as a character driven story. I wanted a protagonist with the same abilities I possess, though enhanced, far more talented but not so over the top that they aren’t believable. What’s more impressive than a guy that can box, do tattoos and mechanic work? A girl that can. And do it better than any guy.
As the other characters were fleshed out it became more plot driven. After a year of work, hand writing this on 700 pages, multiple drafts, it was typed up and ready to go. I was looking for some hit-me-between-the-eyes feedback, so I asked a few well-read, tough critics to give their opinions and was told it’s a winner.
During this time I was studying the craft and couldn’t shut off the flow of story ideas. The only way to disconnect my thoughts was to jot them down. Man, I had notes everywhere, scraps of forms, manilla folders – whatever was nearby when the madness struck was vandalized by my illegible scrawl.
John: Any favorite noir authors?
Henry: Definitely. I’ve worked for Crime Wave Press since 2015. We have some top shelf works of noir there, several of which I had the pleasure of proofreading. “Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties” by Andy Rausch is the most entertaining collection of noir I’ve read.
John: What makes a good crime/noir novel, Henry?
Henry: For me, a good crime thriller has an anti-hero with a conscience. A criminal that is possibly an asshole and unlikable and yet relatable – and then he/she does something heroic and selfless and the excitement is worth cheering.
Noir novels? I prefer those to be tales of really horrific things happening to ordinary, good people. Slippery psychopaths, unlikely villains. Grandmas or children committing murder that makes me curse with a smile.
John: Are there any film noir classics that you like?
Henry: I’m 38. I’ve never been into classic noir films. The only black and white films I like are the first Bruce Lee movies.
John: Was it difficult to write your first novel?
Henry: My first book was a collection of short crime stories. By then, about 12 years ago, I had read hundreds of novels and dog-eared a Webster’s, so I was arrogant enough to say, Hey, I can write a book. And did. And the writing was complete shit. But the stories were entertaining enough for the few that read them to enjoy them. Made me keep going, made me want to know what was tumbling around in the minds of pros when they wrote best-sellers. I went through several years of studying fiction for dummies-type books, discovered how ignorant I was, and then worked almost daily for another year on With Her Fists. Most days I sat down to write, I had no idea what I would do. When the pen hits the paper, somewhere in my head a little neuronal middle finger sticks up, then grabs its pen and throws down.
I put my characters in very difficult situations. Then worse ones. Then deadly, impossible ones, without knowing how they would get out until they had to. Their difficulties were fun puzzles to solve.
The only thing that was difficult for me that I recall was a sore middle knuckle. Not from overuse of sign language. From writing for hours every day. The tendon would work over the knuckle, inflamed, but I couldn’t stop, had to get the ideas out, into the story.
John: Was is the experience like being the PR Manager of Close to the Bone?
Henry: The Close to the Bone team works for Pop Tarts and produces some very brilliant books, clean edited flash and shorts, and love it. No one is interested in the cold side of the business – the money – and everyone goes out of their way to help authors get their works out there, pro quality, no drama. Problems are rare. We point and laugh at each other and get cool shit done.
Most of the work I do is finding reviewers. I meet talented people, give advice on marketing or PR basics, find them interviews on blogs or podcasts, the occasional guest article slot, and circulate the content we create on social media – a lovely place where more people point and laugh and get cool shit done.
John: Do you identify with your main character?
Clarice “Shocker” Ares was a law abiding professional that was wrongfully imprisoned, forced to be a criminal so she could get justice and reunite her family. I wasn’t forced to be a criminal. I love speeding without wearing a seatbelt. I download pirated movies. Those things would make Clarice look down her nose at me. While we share the same skill sets, we are very different people.
John: What will your next book be about?
Possibly a memoir about how I became a PR Manger, about the conditions I live in, the business I’m growing and the guys I’m hiring to work with me. The last few years have been intense.
About the Author
Henry Roi was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and still finds his inspiration in its places and people.
As a GED tutor and fitness instructor, working both face to face and online, he is an advocate of adult education in all its forms. His many campaigning and personal interests include tattoo art, prison reform and automotive mechanics.
He currently works in publishing, as an editor and publicist. He particularly focuses on promoting talented indie writers – arranging reviews, delivering media campaigns, and running blog tours.
If you’re not lucky enough to catch him fishing round the Biloxi Lighthouse or teaching boxing in your local gym, he can usually be found on Twitter or Facebook @HenryRoiPR.