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MailTribune.com
  • Medford-raised author speaks today

    Mystery writer April Henry is on best-seller list
  • It wasn't until April Henry was in her late 20s that she realized anyone can write books — not just special, gifted, wealthy people with prep school educations.
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    • If you go
      What: Book-signing and reading by April Henry, a Portland adult and young adult mystery writer and daughter of the late TV journalist and Jackson County Commissioner Hank Henry
      When: 7 tonight...
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      If you go
      What: Book-signing and reading by April Henry, a Portland adult and young adult mystery writer and daughter of the late TV journalist and Jackson County Commissioner Hank Henry

      When: 7 tonight

      Where: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1400 Biddle Road, Medford
  • It wasn't until April Henry was in her late 20s that she realized anyone can write books — not just special, gifted, wealthy people with prep school educations.
    So she dropped her writing job with a hospital chain and started pecking out detective, suspense and teen drama novels.
    Now, Henry, 55, a graduate of Medford Senior High School, has published 17 books, made the New York Times hardcover bestseller list for adult fiction and earns a good bit more than she made as a medical center flack writing things such as, "How to Live with Your Uterine Cancer," she says.
    Henry is the daughter of the late Hank Henry, who was a local TV journalist from 1964 to 1982 and afterward served on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Later, he was the voice of Jefferson Public Radio's "As It Was" history segments.
    "We kids were always the b-roll (random film) for weather stories and back -to-school stories on KTVL," says April Henry, of Portland, who is back in Southern Oregon this week on a book promotion tour. She will speak today at Ashland and South Medford high schools in hopes of inspiring students who might become authors someday.
    She will also read from her work and sign books at 7 tonight at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1400 Biddle Road, Medford.
    "My dad dreamed of being an author but never got around to it," she says. "When I was a kid, he gave me books on how to write. That lit the spark. I wish I'd started younger, but I had this idea that novelists spoke French, went to boarding schools and had horses — but I think I had them mixed up with the rich. I was in my 20s when I realized they were real people — and I didn't try to write a book till I was 30."
    Henry got a business degree from Oregon State University, married another writer and they raised a child. They live in Portland, and Henry confesses to missing the hills and beauty of her native Southern Oregon.
    Her most successful book now is "Girl Stolen," published by Henry Holt in 2010. It's for young readers and tells the story of a girl left in the car by her parents with the keys still in the car. A thief who steals the car doesn't realize there's a child in it, but that changes everything. The plot twist is that the girl is newly blind and must find her way in a strange and dark world, forcing her to rapidly accept and work with her new handicap.
    In researching for the book, Henry spent a day at a guide dog school for the blind in Portland. She often dives into such experiences, either to flesh out a novel or to just add dramatic information to the idea storehouse in her mind, she says.
    She has sold film rights for "Girl Stolen" and several others have been optioned. Film is dicey, she says, noting that you never know whether something will get legs and end up on the screen.
    When asked about the state of literature in a Facebook-obsessed culture, Henry admits social media has had an impact on reading.
    "But this is still a story-loving culture, and novels will always be here," she says.
    John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.
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