Please help me welcome author Mark Henry to Preternatura today. Mark is stopping by as part of his virtual book tour celebrating the release of his most recent book, Parts & Wreck, which was released on November 25 by Entangled Covet.
Mark Henry traded a career as a counselor to scar minds with his fiction. In stories clogged with sentient zombies, impotent sex demons, transsexual werewolves and ghostly goth girls, he irreverently processes traumatic issues brought on by premature exposure to horror movies, an unwholesome fetish for polyester and/or witnessing adult cocktail parties in the swingin' 70s. A developmental history further muddied by surviving earthquakes, typhoons, and two volcanic eruptions. He somehow continues to live and breathe in the oft maligned, yet not nearly as soggy as you’d think, Pacific Northwest, with his wife and four furry monsters that think they’re children and have a complete disregard for carpet.
You can learn more about Mark by visiting his website, by reading his blog, by visiting him on facebook or by following him on twitter.
ABOUT PARTS & WRECK: Wade Crowson, a brutish and brooding playboy and veteran vivisectionist for the Parts Department, runs into more than he bargained for in new partner, Lucid Montgomery, a quirky beauty with a bizarre secret and a string of psychiatric diagnoses she tries hard to keep hidden. Loving Luce will stamp a demonic target on her back and thrust Wade into a frenzied whirlwind of hilarious misunderstandings and, quite possibly, a stripping gig for emptynesters. Can they withstand the savagery of an exorcism (with or without the split pea soup) and come out alive and …in love?
And now, let’s hear from Mark…
Psychotherapy as a Writing Instructor
By Mark Henry
When people find out I was a psychotherapist their first instinct is to give me the side-eye. “You? Really? You’re not very…serious.” They’re right about that. “You don’t seem like a caring nurturer.” Also true. I wasn’t the kind of psychotherapist that sat at the far end of the couch listening to clients drone on week after week, month after month, year after year. I was solution-focused, crisis driven. I joined in to the conversation, we fixed shit. Quickly. It had to be like that, gone are the days of psychoanalysis at least in terms of insurance billing. Twelve years of that work nearly killed me though. The crises were often quite disturbing and there was very little support. I was able to take away two very important things from the education and the work. One, a brutal gallows humor that colors the way I view my worlds, both my real life and the fiction and two, a deft sense of assessment.
The question inevitably arises how does all that interaction with clients, delving into psyches and such (the “such” being busting down doors to prevent attempted suicides, etc) help craft story and character. It’s a tricky response, because a lot of people want to believe there’s some easy method of writing and melding plot and humor and all the things necessary for a book to come together. The answer is the same whether we’re talking about writing or psychology, there’s no panacea. Whether I saw one client or a thousand (the latter is closer to the reality), no person’s individual story inspires character, rather I draw from my emotions and experiences of those experiences. I access the countertransference, to utilize the lingo. My reactions tell a story.
Now, that’s not to say that the toughness of the job didn’t have a huge influence, my humor is definitely darker as a result of my time in the trenches, for instance, but that’s more about the atmosphere, the tone than the story or character. So I guess what I’m saying is. I write what I know, that old advice that no one ever seems to explain well enough. But what I know is something that comes from self-assessment. Not other people’s stories.