Welcome to Author Wednesday. I am proud as a parent today to introduce this week’s author. Crystal Henry walked into my life in 2005 when I was the editor of two magazines in central Florida. I was interviewing interns at the University of Florida the day we were on deadline for one of the magazines. The intern event was being held in a room where Internet usage was being guarded like Fort Knox for some reason. I was frazzled that I couldn’t get proofs back to my art department. This cute blonde walked up to my table for her interview. I probably blew off the interview in my frantic state of mind, but she was patient and asked what was the problem. When I told her, she said, “I’ll be right back.” In ten minutes she returned with a slip of paper containing the password to the locked Internet. “I hope this helps.” Needless to say, she got the intern spot, and eventually I hired her as a writer and assistant. She still writes her column for one of the magazines. We’ve stayed in touch, and I have watched her grow into a super mom, woman, and writer. She’s just published her first book of essays, Naked Salsa, which are a compilation of her column that she began while working with me. She now lives in Texas, and I’m thrilled to say she and I are planning a book signing together when I visit San Antonio in November. She’s hilarious and insightful. I’m delighted to introduce her to you.
Welcome, Crystal! Let’s talk about how you write first Do you have any rituals?
I always write late at night. Number one because I’m a busy mom, and I have obligations during the day. But second because I feel my most honest at night. I’ve tried writing during the day in my office with the beautiful view, but it’s too distracting. I draw a blank. I think best when I’m half asleep. I keep a notepad by my bed to write all my random genius ideas I get right at the cusp of nodding off at night. But then I often wake up to chicken scratches about space gnomes.
I bet it’s not that bad, but I can imagine as a busy mom, you’re pretty beat by the end of the day. What are you working on these days?
Once I got Naked Salsa finished it just opened the floodgates, so I’m working on a few things at once. I started a novel that is basically about mommy guilt. It’s going to be very loosely based on my experiences with a wide range of parenting types and how we’re all basically in it for the same goal, but a lot of us handle it like babies. It’s still a work in progress, but I envision it to be like Breakfast Club with baby vomit.
I’m also working on a nonfiction book with the future mother of my child. I’m going to be a surrogate for her, and we’re compiling a kind of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for surrogacy. I’d like to aim it at Intended Parents (IPs) because I think a lot of baby prep books out there focus a lot on the pregnant woman. While that is important to IPs, I think there are a lot more subjects that need covered for them. So we’re working together to come up with a resource for those interested or going through surrogacy.
I also have two children’s books that are just waiting for the right illustrator. I started writing one when my first daughter was born, but I wasn’t happy with the supporting characters until my second daughter came along. My other children’s book is a kid’s book about surrogacy. The word surrogacy isn’t even mentioned, but it’s the story of one mom taking care of another mom’s egg.
Whew, I’m tired just reading about it all. Based on your answer to the last question, I guess your books have a common thread. Is that true?
Right now they all seem to focus on marriage and parenting. I started writing my column about marriage, then it evolved into parenting. So I think it’s fitting.
Why have you chosen to write about marriage and parenting?
I never felt like I really had anything to say until I had kids. I started writing about marriage through my column, but even then I don’t think I was able to be open enough to write well. Once I shot a human being out of my body while sprawled in a room full of strangers I lost some dignity and gained my voice.
You underestimate your talent. I remember when you were writing as a young bride. Those columns were inspired. I feel a little silly asking this question because I was there at the birth of your column, but I bet my readers would like to know how you came up with the title Naked Salsa.
To really get the full story you have to read the book, but I chose to name the book after my column “Naked Salsa” because ‘naked’ means so many things. The column started out as “Naked Salsa” because of a bet that I lost that involved cooking in the nude. But the column has really embraced the title because it’s all about me baring it all with my writing and the dance we do in life to hold it all together.
That’s enough of a tease to get them to read the book. What else do you want readers to know about Naked Salsa?
I want them to know that I laughed and cried while writing each of the passages in the book. It’s hard for me to say that because I find it difficult to read my own writing. It just seems self-serving and vain. But there are some stories that I wrote that really capture what was going on in my life at that time. Even after all the times I’ve poured over and edited each one, there are some that are like an old song that takes you back. I still tear up.
Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?
I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen King. The first book I ever loved was a Goosebumps book when I was a young kid. I know it’s not Stephen King, but he is my grown up Goosebumps. I devour his books, and I’m not even sure why I’m drawn to him as a writer, except for the fact that he’s a master of the craft. I think his writing is the farthest thing from mine, but you know what they say about opposites.
What book are you reading right now?
I’m rereading Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s such an inspirational book for aspiring writers or Stephen King fans. I read it when I need a good kick in the writing pants.
I recently bought it for my great nephew, who’s an aspiring writer, hoping it would do that for him. I’m so happy you stopped by today. You’re an inspiration, and I can’t wait for you next act.
About Crystal: Crystal Henry is a freelance writer glad to be back in her native Texas land. She is a University of Florida alumna who stays true to her Florida writing roots through her work with Our Town Magazine and her award-winning column, “Naked Salsa.” She is a boobs out breastfeeding advocate and semi-crunchy mom whose work has been featured on sites such as Scary Mommy, eHow, LIVESTRONG and ModernMom. Her world-domination-smart husband and two hilariously inappropriate little girls constantly provide fodder for her column and #preschoolproblems blog. Having two newborns of her own broke the baby fever that once burned deep within her. And instead she rents out her oven to another woman’s bun and documents her surrogacy journey with humor and honesty through her blog, Her Eggs My Basket.
Links to books and social media sites
Naked Salsa on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lKzIQI
Naked Salsa on CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4916229
Her Eggs My Basket (surrogacy blog): http://hereggsmybasket.blogspot.com/
#preschoolproblems (parenting blog): http://preschoolproblems.blogspot.com
Twitter: Crystal Henry @ CHenryWrites