In October of 2004 Philip Henry was anxiously awaiting the publication of his first novel, Vampire Dawn.
It was a story about a pair of married vampires living in the then bricked-up Arcadia building in Portrush and the local author wondered if anyone would read it. Following its release and interviews on UTV Live and BBC Radio Ulster, as well as articles in the local newspapers, the book went on to do very well for the author. To this day, it’s still his biggest seller, which can be a little frustrating as Philip explained: “I really like that book, but it’s very clearly a first novel. I think my writing has improved a lot since then. If I were to write that book now it would be a lot different.”
As Halloween and the 15th anniversary of the book’s publication approaches, Philip said: “I got incredible support from everyone. The newspapers and media outlets were essential in getting word out about the book, as were Waterstone’s. A book-signing event at the Coleraine branch at Halloween was an annual event for a while and the staff were always happy to dress up for the occasion.”
Over the years various film producers have teased the possibility of a Vampire Dawn movie, but so far the story hasn’t made it to the silver screen. “That would be great,’ says Philip. “I’d love to see the North Coast used as the backdrop and my vampires brought to life on-screen.”
In the years after Vampire Dawn’s release Philip continued to write, producing a book per year for a long time; tackling sea monsters, a freak of nature, genetic experimentation, ghosts, psychopaths, dreams and nightmares, as well as extending his vampire novel into a trilogy. “The supernatural has always interested me because there are unlimited possibilities with where you can take the story,” he said.
In 2016 he published a collection of his short stories entitled Head in the Clouds.
“|That was me drawing a line under the past in a way. Some of those stories were really old and some were more recent, but it cleared the decks and left me with a blank slate to try something new.”
His next release couldn’t have been more different; a children’s book called The Exploration Station featuring his nephews and niece as the main characters. Writing under the pen name B.B. Phelps, Philip wrote a story about children finding a portal to another world in their uncle’s house.
“That idea came from playing with the kids. We used to come up with all these different places and monsters to
fight so I decided to put them all in a book and build a story around them.”
So far there have been two Exploration Station books and Philip is working on the third to complete this trilogy. “They’re proving quite popular and I really enjoy writing them,’ he admits.
That doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his adult readers. He’s also been hard at work on a tense psychological thriller.
“I’m really happy with how this new book has turned out. I’ve started sending it to agents and I’m getting some very positive buzz, so we’ll see what happens. I’m trying to get this one published in a more traditional way so there will be some muscle behind it when it comes to promotion and advertising. It’s something I don’t spend enough time doing because I’d rather be writing.”
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of being published, Philip has released new editions of all his
books. “I re-read them and tried to catch the typos that slipped past me first time. It’s been a weird
experience. Sometimes I’ve read something and laughed out loud because I genuinely didn’t remember writing it,’ he says. With almost one million of his words in print it’s easy to see why.
Some of the books have been republished in a more readable font and all the covers will have a matte finish from now on. “They were only available as ebooks for a couple of years, so it’s great to have them all back in paperback form as well now,” Philip says.
After writing novels for both adults and children, dozens of TV and film scripts, and releasing an
album of his original songs last year, what do the next fifteen years have in store for the author?
“I hope I’m still writing books, scripts and songs. I have a headful of ideas. It’s just choosing which one
to tackle next. I haven’t written a stage play yet. Maybe I’ll try that. A sci-fi/ horror stage musical
would be great fun!” Philip laughed.
Details of all Philip’s creative endeavours and links to where you can buy the new editions of his
books can be found at: www.philiphenry.com