Author Feature: Dan Henk

I grew up on isolated army bases all over the country. We didn’t have a TV until I was in the 5th grade, when at last my grandma felt sorry for us and donated her old TV. Even then it was a small, worn unit that was missing knobs, swathed in fake wood paneling, and hoisting up a bent hanger as an antenna. On top of that, my parents limited us to an hour a day. Which usually meant an hour of The Outer Limits or the The Twilight Zone.

TV being virtually irrelevant, me and my friends spent the days building tree forts, biking around town, and playing army. We traded shots with bottle rockets that were fired out of hairspray cans while we gallivanted about the local woods, often across the ruins of old army training grounds. I would go with my mom to the local library, check out a stack of books, and have them all read a week later when we returned.

That really started my love for Sci-Fi and horror, and I would stay up late at night, reading by flashlight or the crack of a door long after I was supposed to be asleep.

I wrote my first novel (which I’m sure was horrible) in fifth grade. It was on lined notebook paper, in pencil, and I decorated every tenth page or so with an illustration.

When I hit my teenage years, I got heavily into metal, followed shortly afterwords by punk rock. I saved up my money, bought an art table, and would feverishly work on storyboards. Biking across town, I’d show them to the indie comic artists working at local shops book stores.

Moving with my family as part of our regular 3 year cycle, I ended up in Virginia just as I entered adolescence.

I was now getting high marks in creative writing and advanced drawing classes, and I fully immersed myself into the punk rock scene. Blue mohawk, spiky leather jacket, the whole works.

None of this went over well with my super religious parents, who forced me to go to church 4 times a week and see a psychiatrist.

At 18, they kicked me out of the house and moved. I spent the next 8 months homeless, often sleeping in the woods. Eventually worming my way into a minimum wage job, over the course of a year I worked my way through several employers. I started writing for local fanzines and doing political cartoons for the likes of Maximum Rock and Roll and Madcap Magazine.

I moved into the city of Washington, DC. Working as a dishwasher, a crackhead broke into the apartment I was living at, and in the ensuing fight the tendon on my left thumb was severed.

Moving back to Virginia, I worked as a bike messenger in DC, eventually saving enough money to take art classes at the local community college. Now working two jobs and paying for it on my own dime, I got around on an old motorcycle and still dreamed of drawing and writing for the big comic book companies. Moving to NYC in 1998, in an attempt to do just that, I went through some grueling interviews with DC Comics and Penguin Books. Realizing that the first paid almost nothing, and the second provided very sparse work, I started doing art for bands and magazines, all while working a restaurant job on the side to pay rent. That was a mixed bag that rarely paid, and I finally realized that I could only tell my story (the same story I’d been working on and modifying since I was a teenager) in an illustrated novel.

I had barely laid out the plans for that, starting on a career of tattooing in the process, when I came down with brain cancer. A miserable 2 years of radiation and chemo followed, and then another three years of recovery from the devastating effects of chemotherapy.

Life and my growing fame in the tattoo world distracted me while I picked at my first novel.

Six years passed, and then unexpectedly my wife died in a hit and run. Private investigators and extensive media coverage led no where.

A year later, Wayne Simmons, an author from Ireland, contacted me. One of the main characters in his zombie novel was a tattoo artist and he needed advice.

Everything was subliminally telling me that life was short and I needed to take my writing seriously.

With that kick in the ass, I finally put out my first novel, The Black Seas Of Infinity in 2011. Following that up almost immediately with a string of short stories that were eventually collected into a novel in 2014 entitled “Down Highways in the Dark…By Demons Driven”. Like a madman, I sprawled out all over the place. Painting book covers, doing work for comics and magazines, and releasing a yearly calendar featuring the work of a multitude of artists. I also started writing columns for Tattoo Artist Magazine, Skin Art, and Tattoo Review.

2019 saw the release of my third book ‘The End of the World”.

A rough sequel to the first book (think Road Warrior to Mad Max) it includes some of the characters from my short stories. Comics influenced me there, and I always liked the idea of everything taking place in the same universe.

Although the main focus of my new book is an apocalyptic, sci-fi scenario, I included quite a bit of my and my friends personal experiences on the edges of society.

Life is a rocky road, but you have to push through, because in the end, no one cares but you.

Check me out on my website at danhenk.com, or on instagram and twitter as deadguyllc.

All Three of my books are up on Kobo, Nook, and Amazon, and I have short video trailers for all three on my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUVK0skMvgvVbyYg5Tb25rw and give me some feedback!

Thanks for making it this far, Dan Henk

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