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Lee Henshaw Interview

Posted on 19 February 2008. © Copyright 2004-2020 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Lee Henshaw, author of the recently published novel, Queer Fish In God's Waiting Room.

Tell us all about your writing background-

Freud sat behind his couch because he didnít want his patients staring at him. I feel the same way about my writing. Iím not keen on reading it or talking about it. I will always talk about it if Iím asked though because I want to find an audience for it, although you will notice that my answers to these questions become increasingly uptight.

Most of my writing gets chucked in a box and stays there. Queer Fish in Godís Waiting Room is the first sensible thing to come out of that box.

Iíve only finished two stories before, my University dissertation Ė a short story called Hedley Had An Erection Ė and another short story for the Manor House Book Club, A Pocket full of Cheese and a Garden full of Trees.

Other work besides writing; ie. Editing, dramaturgy, tutoring, and how it works for/against your own writing

Thereís truth in literature, art and poetry, say, just like thereís truth in a conversation at the pub, a fight at a wedding or gossip over the garden fence. My other work is advertising and PR, which, like the journalism I did before it, can only pervert the truth. Thatís not to say it works against my writing. If I didnít have my day job to compare it to, it probably wouldnít be as enjoyable. As Aldous Huxley said, itís in relation to their opposites that things have significance to us.

How, when and why did you first start writing?

I went to an ordinary primary school in Macclesfield with one teacher you couldíve described as creative, Mr Whale. Heíd chalk the word WHACK in reverse on a sawn-off cricket bat, for example, just before he smacked your arse with it to spell the word on your pants. I remember one parentsí evening where he told my mum and dad that my marks for writing were off-the-chart because I did so much of it.

So I started young, and I do it because I like it.

Who are your favourite writers/influences and why?

I canít say that I have favourites. There are plenty that I like, but when I decide to read a book it rarely has anything to do with the author. Today I chose Brick Lane over Willard and his Bowling Trophies and A Sort of Life, for example, going for an author I know nothing about over two who I enjoy because I felt like reading something contemporary.

Regarding my influences, Iím like a cushion, I carry the impression of the last person to sit on me.

Hereís a list of five books Iíve ready recently that inspired me.

Big Sur and The Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch by Henry Miller
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
One People by Guy Kennaway
Blindness by Jose Saramago
The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer

How did you get your first publisher?

I was recently complicit in a lie about this, putting the publisherís decision to publish Queer Fish in Godís Waiting Room down to the Next to Hemingway stunt (people took photos of the book inside bookstores for my blog). The truth is less interesting. I played 5-a-side football with the publisher, told him about the book, he read it and offered to publish it.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Iím too enthusiastic about writing to consider the worst thing about it. Iíve heard talk of the tyranny of the blank page, the famous writersí block, but Van Gogh said why should a painter be afraid of a blank canvas, a blank canvas should be afraid of the painter. I thrash every page I write on until it submits.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

Nik Perring at 14:59 on 20 February 2008  Report this post
Thanks for sharing, Lee; top interview.

A primary school in Macclesfield? That's a little close to home. Which one?

Best of luck with the book.


Beanie Baby at 09:37 on 21 February 2008  Report this post
Fascinating interview, Lee. You are something of an enigma.

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