Q&A: Henry Homeyer

Henry Homeyer
There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state. As the Director of the NH Center for the Book  I get the opportunity to talk to many of them. This interview series of Q&As with New Hampshire authors here on Book Notes lets me share that experience a bit with my blog readers. 
If someone hasn't read your work yet, where should they start?
Organic Gardening (not just) in the Northeast: A Hands-On, Month-by-Month Guide  is a nice collection of about 100 of my articles on gardening from the newspapers, magazines and Vermont Public Radio over the past 10 years.

When did you first think of yourself as a writer?
I started keeping a diary at age 8 – and I still have that diary! By the time I was in high school I hoped to be the next Ernest Hemingway. But I didn’t really think of myself as a writer until I had a regular newspaper column in 1998. And when my first gardening book, Notes from the Garden, came out in 2002, I felt I was a real writer.

How did you end up living in NH?
I went to Dartmouth College and fell in love with New Hampshire as a young man. Then, 2 years out of college, I got a job teaching in Plainfield, NH. I bought a broken down old Creamery and made it into a livable house - and still live there.

Where do you like to write?
I have a desk surrounded by windows, books and a certain amount of clutter. I like it there. But now, with a laptop, I move around a little and often write on the kitchen island.

How important is place in your writing?
Since I am, primarily, a garden writer, place is very important. My gardening books are very much based on what I am doing in the garden. My children's Book, Wobar, involves a lot of travel, but only to places I've actually been. It starts--and finishes--in New Hampshire. 

What do you do when you aren't writing?
I garden and I enjoy the outdoors: XC skiing, hiking, kayaking, Nordic skating. Of course, I love reading, and I'm a serious cook. I have traveled over much of Africa and Europe (I was overseas from 1972-1982) and still try to take a month a year to travel.

What’s the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given?
Hemingway always told aspiring writers to stop at a place where, when you start again, you’ll know where to go. I think that is good advice. But I wrote a children’s novel, Wobar and the Quest for the Magic Calumet, and each day I was surprised and delighted to find out what would happen next. I left off at a turning point each night and I never knew what was coming next.  

What books do you love and what about them speaks to you?
Right now I’ve been reading all of Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat (which became a movie), Peaches for Father Francis and other books. I love France, and she captures it well, along with a strong story line. Howard Frank Mosher is another favorite of mine, all of his novels are excellent, particularly Waiting for Teddy Williams – if you are a Red Sox fan. He captures rural New England beautifully. Michael Dorris’ Yellow Raft in Blue Water is amazing – it’s the same story seen from the viewpoint of a young woman, her mother and her grandmother. 

What are you working on now?
Nothing. I am thinking about writing a sequel to my Wobar book, but I enjoying not having to push myself on a deadline. Of course I still write my gardening column every week, all year. 

What do you want to share that I neglected to ask about?
To be a writer, you have to love to write. It is not usually a lucrative profession, but can be combined with other activities to make a living. So write: keep a journal, a blog, copies of letters. Write short stories, start a novel. Engage with your subject matter and let your imagination run. 

You can learn more about Henry's children's book at www.henryhomeyer.com and read his weekly gardening column at www.Gardening-Guy.com.

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