Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Interview with Randy Henderson, author of Finn Fancy Necromancy - February 11, 2015

Please welcome Randy Henderson to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Finn Fancy Necromancy was published on February 10th by Tor Books.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. Please describe Finn Fancy Necromancy in 140 characters or less.

Randy:  Whose book has 140 characters in it? That's way too -- oh. I see. Words, not people in my book. Shoot. It's a, uh, humorous fantasy about --

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Randy:  Probably to forge my parent's signature to get out of Kindergarten gym class.

Actually, I started when I was about 15, but just kind of dabbled at it until around 2007. That's when I joined an online writing group, started going to convention writing workshops, established my own writing group, and got serious about learning the craft of writing. In 2009 I attended Clarion West, and I began to slowly sell my fiction at a professional level after that.

The "why" is that I was a fantasy nerd attending a performing arts high school and attracted to a lot of poets. Also, my reading and writing skills were what I remember being praised consistently for from a young age, so that probably influenced me.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Randy:  Actually, I'm a little of both, like the Donnie and Marie of writers. I really believe it is a spectrum not a dichotomy for most authors. Even the most detailed plotter will often find a character taking on a larger role than they intended, or the story going off on a sidetrack to explore some emotional consequence, etcetera. And most pantsers that I know like to at least have some general idea of where their story is going.

I also think it depends on the length of the work. Short stories are easier to pants, because, well, they're shorter. A novel can be an investment of a year or two to write and revise, and you don't want to get four months into it and realize it's going nowhere or is way off track. (Also, novels wear suspenders under their book jackets so they are much harder to pants, of course).

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Randy:  As any author will tell you, it is deciding how to spend all the money.

Also, developing deep character arcs, and suffering from impostor syndrome.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Randy:  I tend to avoid consuming too-similar material to what I'm writing because I just don't want to stress about any similarities, or second-guess where my ideas came from.

So prior to writing Finn Fancy, I hadn't read much Urban Fantasy. Indirect influences to Finn Fancy were probably Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, Lyndon Hardy's Master of the Five Magics, Zelazny's Amber novels, Harry Potter, the Narnia books, the Xanth novels, and all the usual epic fantasy suspects. I think I was also heavily influenced by Joss Whedon's humorous ensemble style of television.

After finishing Finn Fancy Necromancy, I did begin binge-reading Butcher's Dresden Files and Charles de Lint to be familiar with what has already been done and what works in the genre (and because they're awesome), as well as J.A. Pitts, Kat Richardson, Carrie Vaughan, and a sampling of others.

People often reference Ready Player One when discussing Finn Fancy because of all my 80's jokes, but I've avoided reading it before now. Now that I've finished writing book two and am moving on to the 90s era, I will definitely read it soon.

And I've also heard comparisons to Lish McBride's Young Adult necromancer series due to a couple of surface similarities (her protagonist is a snarky necromancer in the Seattle area). But I probably won't read her books until I'm further into the Finn series for similar reasons.

TQ:  Tell us something about Finn Fancy Necromancy that is not in the book description.

Randy:  It smells really great.

Also, I suppose something I worry about is that people will read "necromancy" and assume it is zombies and Dracula wannabes running around in black bathrobes talking like Vincent Price. But necromancy is just the ability to speak with the dead; my character would rather be making video games for his Commodore computer than lurking in the shadows; and instead of zombies, I have sasquatches. Not that there aren't ghosts and possessions and darker moments as well, but they are balanced by humor and other elements.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Finn Fancy Necromancy?

Randy:  I secretly harvested the DNA of JK Rowling and Douglas Adams, created a test tube child, raised it in my laboratory, had it write a novel about a necromancer having adventures, realized that talent was not necessarily genetic, burned the book, released the poor child into the wilds (presumably to end up on some reality show or other) and decided to write my own dang novel.

Actually, I didn't do much research on Finn Fancy to begin with, because that was kind of the point. I just wanted to have fun (after being burned out on previous research-heavy projects). I did end up revisiting the locations in the novel to make sure I got the details right, and did a bit of research on sasquatches, mortuaries, gnomes, and the history of Port Townsend.

One bit of research I did that ended up not being in the novel was on Frank Herbert, author of Dune. Turns out he'd lived in Port Townsend for a while, and I thought, how perfect, I'll have my character speak with the ghost of Frank Herbert. I depicted him with great respect, but in the end Herbert was removed because I came up with a much better ghost for the needs of the story.

TQ:  Which question about Finn Fancy Necromancy do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Question: Randy, I love your work, may I be your patron and keep you in pizza and milkshakes for the rest of your life while you write your wonderful words for me? I'm your biggest fan!

Me: Yes! What could possibly go wrong?

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Finn Fancy Necromancy.

Randy:  The great thing about Finn Fancy Necromancy is that while it is 100% organic, it has been lightly irradiated to prevent spoilage.

I think the lines I enjoyed writing the best in the book were mostly similes, like "a screech cut through my mind like a rabid cat being scratched across a chalkboard."

An excerpt of the first three chapters is available on []

TQ:  What's next?

Randy:  I just finished writing a draft of book 2: Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free. I'll be touring a bit performing readings and Q&A sessions in support of Finn Fancy 1. I'll start plotting out book 3 soon. And I have a few conventions and workshops I'll be teaching at. Feel free to check out the schedule page on my website and come see me!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Randy:  Thank you! Just a quick note though, the hot cocoa was great, and the Throne of Quills is cute and very Game of Thrones-y, but to be honest it was a bit painful to sit on. You really should have blunted the nibs or something. Still, I'd love to come back, even if I have to stand next time. Cheers!

TQ:  Of course you are welcome back! (Note to self: have nibs sharpened.)

Finn Fancy Necromancy
Series:  Finn Fancy 1
Publisher:  Tor Books, February 10, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  $25.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765378088 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Writers of the Future grand prize winner Randy Henderson presents a dark and quirky debut in Finn Fancy Necromancy.

Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of 15, and exiled to the Other Realm for twenty five years. But now that he’s free, someone—probably the same someone—is trying to get him sent back. Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world, and find evidence to prove it to the Arcane Enforcers. They are going to be very hard to convince, since he’s already been convicted of trying to kill someone with dark magic.

But Finn has his family: His brother Mort who is running the family necrotorium business now, his brother Pete who believes he’s a werewolf, though he is not, and his sister Samantha who is, unfortunately, allergic to magic. And he’s got Zeke, a fellow exile and former enforcer, who doesn’t really believe in Finn’s innocence but is willing to follow along in hopes of getting his old job back.

Melanie's Review

Henderson doesn't mess around and drops both Finn and the reader in it from the very start of Finn Fancy Necromany with a big juicy 'who dunnit'. We first meet Finn as he is being released from his 25 year exile in the 'Other Realm' for a crime of dark necromancy he didn't commit. Whoever got him exiled is pretty keen that he goes back. He has been given 3 days to find out who had him exiled and why. With the help of his dysfunctional family, a former enforcer and the girl next door Finn looks for the answer to who framed him. This takes the reader on a hilarious trip through a world of vengeful witches, angry gnomes, sasquatch mercenaries, and necromancers.

Finn turns to his family of misfits for help in solving the mystery including his brother Mort who is trying to keep the family 'necrotorium' business thriving by selling off family artifacts, his brother Petey who believes he is a werewolf following a childhood prank, and his sister Samantha who is allergic to magic. Finn is also joined by the ex-enforcer Zeke who is prone to berserker rages and dressing like someone from Miami Vice. Zeke, Finn's partner through most of the book, doesn't really believe that Finn is innocent but is willing to work with him to find the answers and hopefully get his previous life as an enforcer back. I enjoyed following as their 'Odd Couple' relationship changed throughout the story. This odd collection of characters makes for an amusing read and makes you wonder how Finn will ever survive. Finn has a lot on his mind. Not only does he have a mystery to solve, peppered with several attempts on this life, but more importantly there is also his love life to worry about. The childhood girlfriend or the girl next door?

I knew the minute I saw the title of this book I had to read it. How could a book with a title of Finn Fancy Necromany not sound like it has the potential for a few laughs? I was not disappointed. Through Finn, Henderson demonstrates a real talent for witty and whimsical writing. The chapters are littered with Star Trek, Pac Man and 80's music references as Finn longs for the life he had before he was exiled. Some of the lines had me lol'ing on public transportation and I had a number of strange looks as I laughed my way through Finn's reminiscing about his Commodore 64, his lessons on the world wide web and many and varied comparisons to Star Trek. Henderson also nails the mystery elements as well as the humour. Although I had my suspicion as to who the 'baddy' was going to be there was a delightful and sinister twist right at the end that caught me by surprise. I did think Finn was maybe just a tiny bit too nice and sweet like a toasted marshmallow but I was able to forgive this as I enjoyed the writing and the mystery so much. This is a great debut and kudos to Henderson for keeping me entertained all the way through to the end.

About Randy

Photo by Folly Blaine
RANDY HENDERSON is the grand prize winner of Writers of the Future Award for 2014, a Clarion West graduate, and member of SFWA and Codex. His fiction has appeared in Penumbra, Escape Pod, and Realms of Fantasy, and has been included in anthologies. Find him online at

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @randyauthor

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Hardcover copy of Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson from Tor Books. US/CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February 21, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

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  1. This book sounds like a lot of fun and I love the vintage looking cover especially the Hieronymus Bosch-y dude at the back. Bosch-y, yeah that's a word, sure it is.