An Interview with Ross Henry

by Susan Martinello

Novelist Ross Henry has an adventure story he started at a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) session in Houston in 2006. But his interest in writing goes back to his high school library where he sat next to a great science fiction collection during study hall. He dabbled in sci-fi short stories after that. Eventually, he met Isaac Asimov in New York and found him to be not only interesting, but happy to hang out with sci-fi fans and aspiring writers. Ross has long subscribed to Asimov’s science fiction magazine, and his goal is to be published in it.

Random fact: Ross Henry has been in the Tijuana jail! Which takes us back to his early days. He grew up on Telegraph Road in Mobile. After joining the Navy in 1960, he found himself in San Diego. He confesses to being rounded up in a group of rowdy sailors in Tijuana and ending up in a cell. In his four years in the Navy, he visited Hawaii and crossed the Atlantic several times. Once his ship was sent to check on Russian activity in the Black Sea. The encounter ended with American and Russian sailors enjoying drinks together.

rossRoss has always loved boats. Following the Navy, he lived on the Upper East Side of New York for eight years. This former chemistry major ran a Clinical Research Lab for Cornell Medical School. Like a true New Yorker, he had a way to escape from the city: on a boat. He owned both motor and sail boats over the years. When his lab was closed, he ran a New York nightclub, which he calls “a different kind of chemistry.” In 2000, a friend’s offer to manage a Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream franchise took him to Houston.

Which brings us back to writing. Ross belongs to Mobile Writers Guild, where he met our current president, Mavis Jarrell, who introduced him to Pensters. He has completed sixteen revisions of his novel, The Return of Lafitte, about a fictional descendant of the pirate who sets out to right some grave wrongs. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey was a major inspiration for the structure of the story, and books about Lafitte grounded him in the history. He started with an outline, but had to adapt as the characters “got out of hand.” Ross likes it quiet when he writes, which could be anytime the mood strikes and he’s not working at his Unitarian Church in Mobile as supervisor of building and grounds. On Sundays he is also in charge of “coffee grounds” – making coffee, that is.

It’s not surprising that as a sci-fi enthusiast, he is a Star Wars fan. Or that in addition to sci-fi, he also likes non-fiction such as Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. What is surprising about Ross is that he had a brief boxing career. While in the Navy he was the Featherweight Champion of the aircraft carrier, USS Shangri-la. When he finally met someone who could hit him, he decided to retire and save his brain for a better use. Which turns out to be a good thing, now that he has a novel to publish.