Helping Hands: How Mark Henry Found His Way To Romance

Publishing is a tough business. From cancelled contracts to amazing books that never get their due, it's a tough road for authors and aspiring writers to walk. Today Mark Henry, UF-turned-romance author, is here to tell us about how he got over a major bump in the road, and we're so glad he did! The author shares:

In the interest of transparency, I’m going to do a little oversharing to explain how I came to writing romance. It’s a tale fraught with desperation and hardship, love and regret … also horrible periods of overeating. But to say that my publishing journey has been a unique struggle is doing a disservice to the vast majority of writers both aspiring and published. We all struggle, most of us clinging to a career by our fingernails. I’m not especially begrudged or bedraggled and in many ways I’m lucky. Only a very small percentage of us ever achieve a comfortable success. I think as readers with aspirations to join the ranks of our favorite writers, that’s an unusual idea to wrap our heads around, that this person who’s achieved what I so desperately crave is likely not considered a success and may, in fact, be worried about where they’ll scrounge up money for groceries. That’s changing in this age of indie publishing, but only for the truly flexible and ambitious. Suffice it to say, up until about about six months ago, I didn’t fall into either camp.

After some mighty encouraging buzz, my venture into young adult (Velveteen as Daniel Marks) seemed to have flown so far under the radar as to barely blip. By a month out of the gate, we knew it was a disappointment. This after two years of toiling over that book, rewriting, scrapping half of it post sale and reorganizing it to a degree I’d not experienced during my entire adult urban fantasy series career. I had set my mind to positivity. This book was going to be the one.

Not so much.

I was tired. Creatively spent. For the next few months, I tinkered with ideas, proposals — and for the first time the concept of quitting became a reality. In fact, I’d pretty much decided to start looking for a job when my friend, author Candace Havens, contacted me with the idea to write a paranormal romance series for Entangled’s Covet line. I was in Las Vegas at the time. The Venetian, to be exact, and couldn’t quite process the possibility that someone wanted my work … regardless of genre. I’d seriously written off the possibility that I had any value.

But suddenly, all that was gone. The ideas rushed back and despite the fact that I’d never written romance as anything but a subplot of a larger work, my brain was swimming in premise and tropes and becoming generally weird again. It wasn’t that I had a legitimate offer that got the juices flowing, it was quite simply the feeling that I was still here, still a writer and known as such. I’d so completely erased that chalkboard and yet, magically, there was my name.

So, the truth is, the decision was made for me. And more than having a story to tell, the fact that people supported and had faith in me and were willing to reach out and show a little love was enough for me to make the leap into writing romance.

The result of this big transition is my latest novel, Parts & Wreck. I’ve retained all my trademark craziness of my urban fantasy series (Happy Hour of the Damned, et al), and if you had any question, the romance takes place amongst the amateur surgeons of the Parts Department, a secret organization that reclaims demonically possessed transplant organs, commando-style, the unfortunate consequence of which is the stuff of urban legends — the one where folks wake up in motel bathtubs with plenty of ice cubes but far fewer kidneys. So, yeah, it’s a comedy. The romance is the story but it couldn’t have come from anyone else. It’s incredibly twisted and I’m so very proud of it.

And to think, it would have never happened if someone hadn’t reached out.

- Mark Henry

Thanks, Mark, for sharing this latest part of your publishing journey. Be sure to check out Parts & Wreck, which is available at e-tailers everywhere now! And for more love stories, visit our Everything Romance page.