About Jack

Here's far more than I would ever tell you about myself if we were sitting here together. That is not a comment on you; I just don't tend to talk about myself very much.Jack Henderson Background

Born October 3, 1958, in Springfield, Missouri, and raised down the road in Buffalo, Missouri, population about 1,200. At that time there were just two television channels available via rooftop antenna in my home town, and to call someone locally you needed to dial only 4 digits on your black rotary phone. My number was 7789.

As a boy I spent a lot of time in the basement. I was almost pathologically shy, and my cellar laboratory and the public library were the two places I was most comfortable. I read a great deal, but very little fiction, mostly books of facts, histories, paranormal accounts and fringe sciences, biographies of inventors and inventions. When I was 8, a favorite uncle gave me a huge, antique 4-volume set of books called The Boy Mechanic, and these provided years of evening projects in engineering, parlor magic, electronics, astronomy, photography, radio, aviation, carpentry and chemistry.

My first jobs were in radio broadcasting. I was a disc jockey, newscaster, copywriter and actor in radio dramas on local stations in Missouri from age 16 to 20. Shyness was never overcome, but became well managed. I was voted Man of Our Times in my senior year of high school, a title that was both more coveted and less practically specific than Most Likely to Succeed.

Education and Some History

Not very much education, by traditional gauges, only two years of performing arts conservatory as I trained to be a stage actor. Left college after sophomore year to start a regional theatre. Moved to New York City three years later, where my real education began.

In 1981 I built and learned to program my first computer, a Sinclair ZX-81 with 1K of RAM, and soon after began to haunt the early online communities. The hacker culture has always been a fascination; true hackers, that is, the explorers and innovators, not the vandals and pranksters that the press has allowed to co-opt the term.

To pay the bills while my wife-to-be and I pursued our theatrical ambitions, I began working as a technical writer, soon almost exclusively for the medical field. I learned to be a rigorous researcher, since my audience generally had at least a solid 10 years more formal education than I did. My last corporate position was as Creative Director of McCann-Erickson's Chicago agency, where I helped found their interactive division in the very early 90s. At McCann we developed some of the first online e-commerce sites, two years before there was an Amazon.com.

Early and Current Interests

On my shelf I still have a set of Brains Benton mysteries from boyhood. These stories revolved around the titular shy, geeky youth who spent a lot of time tinkering in his home laboratory. Tom Swift, boy inventor of the future, was another early hero. My favorite magician is Ricky Jay, and my favorite author is Margaret Atwood.

I've always made a hobby of learning new things. I build and fly radio-controlled model airplanes (the big aerobatic ones, that can take off a finger), dabble in amateur radio, build and tweak computers, do studio photography, practice sleight of hand, fly power kites, whittle boomerangs, brew gourmet beer, and to relax, I make bread.

Current Life

These days I live and write in sunny Orange County, CA. News flash: My family and I have moved to Illinois, west of Chicago. I've been married for 22 24 years to the same wonderful woman, and we have two fine daughters in their teens, both as well adjusted and self-assured as I was withdrawn and bashful at their age.

About Circumference of Darkness

After the initial idea for the book presented itself, I put in nearly a year of research and fact-finding before the first chapter was written. I have a wall full of reference books, three walls actually, but I don't believe I could have written this story at all without the unbelievably deep resources of the Internet and its community. Everything is out there somewhere, nearly everyone can be found and reached with a question, and it only takes some ingenuity and diligence to follow the trail and find it all. The facts in the book are facts, the conjecture is based on facts, and I did my best to ensure, even if an event was pure fiction, that it could have happened just as the story says it did.

27 Responses to About Jack

  1. Donna Scheppe says:

    Hi Jack,
    I enjoyed reading about your book. Sounds enticing!
    Donna

  2. Dear Jack

    A UK based reader of your fantastic book Maximum Impact. I have never visited any other Authors website, just yours as I wanted to say how brilliantly written the book is and I cannot believe this is your first novel. A true masterpiece, with incredible detail, I could so easily visualise the scene with your detailed descriptions. I really look forward to your next instalment. But please dont leave it too long!! Regards DSG

  3. ron drinkhouse says:

    I beleive I am not one of your younger readers (1931). Am an avid pursuer of the “thriller” genre. Your first book (a marvel in itself) is a marvel of detail and a real run read. Look forward to your next. Regards. Ron Drinkhouse, Beverly Hills, FL

  4. Trudi Danks says:

    Just finished Maximum Impact — brilliant.
    Looking forward to your next books.

  5. stewart says:

    Maximum impact is the best book ive read by a long shot! i’m currently 17 and writing a book myself and i’m always looking for inspiration to keep me motivated and that is what you have done! i’m constantly attempting to match your level of writing which is phonominal and exceptionally difficult. keep it up your one of the most brilliant thriller writers in history.
    S.S.

  6. Paul douds says:

    Hi Jack,

    When your book first came out I tried to buy it but failed? I then ordered it only to find out that the store could not get it? I then went on a website (I can’t remember which?) and found it and paid a handsome amount for the computer paper copy. It was terrific!

    When you get a chance call me and we will go flying!

    Paul Douds

  7. Paul Douds says:

    Hi Jack,

    Really enjoyed your book Circumference of Darkness! Great book! Heavy stuff!!

    When is your next book coming out?

    Call me and we will go flying at the new Airfield!

    Your friend

    Paul Douds

  8. Darren P says:

    Hi Jack,

    As mentioned above from another fan, this is the first time I have ever bothered to go to an authors’ website. I’ve been reading now since I was 15 (nearly 2 decades!) and like most bestsellers stuff – Grisham, Martina Cole, Clancy, Terry Pratchett, the list and range is huge. I bought your book (Maximum Impact) late last year and have just finished reading it for the second time. I’ve even mentioned it on my facebook page!
    So I just wanted to congratulate you on a wonderful and fluent read, which manages to encompass action, technology, sc-fi and human emotions in a perfect package. If this is your first book I can’t wait for the second.
    I have to confess this comment isn’t entirely selfless, I’m now going to beg that your second book includes the characters from the first, including Jeannie, Kate and ofcourse “phr33k”…please! It would be criminal not to!
    Ok, thats it for me, well done again and I’ll keep posted on this site for updates.

    Darren

  9. Hi Jack,
    Remember me? I wrote some articles on being a novice RC pilot for the Fox Valley Aero Club’s “Flypaper,” while you were its editor. Also participated in some Fun Flys you organized. At any rate, Paul called the club’s attention to your book, “Circumference of Darkness,” and I rushed out to get a copy. WOW! It’s awsome. Was in process of reading it during a flight with layover in LAX, and checked out all the airport book stores to see if it was being sold there. The answer is “yes.”

    The story is certainly a cliff-hanger. I don’t think all parts are credible, but then when I was in Medical School I didn’t think the idea of organ transplantation (especially the heart) would ever be successful. I too worked with personal computers in the ’70s, and if you told me then that today there would be one on every worker’s desk, and described the internet and mode of interface now widely used, I’m afraid I would have responded, “What have you been smoking?”

    Thanks for leading me on a great trip! It’s scary that even parts of your scenario are possible. Look forward to your next work. Best regards. Bill Best

  10. Adam Kershaw says:

    Great book, how you tied fictional events to real world events is extraordinary, and the technical side is just great. You did thorough research into the technical side and it’s what I like to see. Keep up the good work.

  11. Aimee Mayer says:

    Hi Jack,
    Almost to the end of Maximum impact right now and I’ve just got to say it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far (and I can’t believe this is your first!).

    All the technical aspects have been just what I’ve been looking for in my next read and the characters are so well defined. Plus, the link into the real world was really something that made the story come alive.

    Great work, cannot wait for your next book!

  12. Irene Steel says:

    Dear Jack

    I have just finished the book – I couldn’t put it down!

    Good luck with your next novel; I hope sometime you will write
    again about Jeannie & John in the next stages of their lives.
    Would love to get hold of a ‘Kate’……

    Gripping storyline, believable characters – what a debut novel.

    Bon chance

    Irene
    Scotland
    UK

  13. Jack,
    In changing computers I lost some of my data base. Would you be so kind as to email me when you get home so I can have your email address back in my data base. I have a question that you might have the answer…. thanks… Jack Morrissey Editor EAA Warbird Mag

  14. Sure thing, Jack. Very nice to hear from you again.

  15. Valerie Staff says:

    Dear Jack, I’m just listening to Maximum Impact. What a fantastic story and what a fabulous writer you are. The next best thing is that you chose Jeff Harding to narrate this wonderful story for you and he is superb. Please let him record your next talking book for you. Thanks

    Valerie X

  16. Valerie,
    Thanks for writing. What a pleasure to wake up to this comment!

    I’m glad you’re getting into the first book, and I agree, Jeff Harding is a great interpreter and a fine actor. You encouraged me to dig out my single copy of the unabridged version (I’ve lent the others out, and they haven’t come back) and listen to it again.

    All the best,
    Jack

  17. Dorcas Haslam says:

    Hi Jack,
    Like many of your other fans, this is first time feedback on an author’s website. I found your book, Maximum Impact, artfully woven and convincingly plausible whilst reasserting the notion of treating media with circumspection. Having “discovered” you and your characters, I am looking forward to reading your existing works and (hopefully) of their future exploits.
    I also thought it a delightful touch at the end to be thanked for my time in reading your book – certainly another rarity by an author, and all I can say is that the pleasure really was all mine. Thank you.
    Dorcas H
    North Lincolnshire

  18. Brad Wilson says:

    Once I read a book, even a good book, it usually ends up being placed back on one of my bookshelves and quickly forgotten before I get back into the routine of life. Occasionally an exceptional read stands out in my mind for a few days like the aftertaste of a good scotch, but then just fades off into the back of my mind.

    Maximum Impact, however, was a truly extraordinary read. Counter-intuitively, this book that I could not put down took longer for me to read than most other books as I found myself deviating off on tangents of curiosity, reading up on events, facts, technologies, and potential technologies mentioned in the book. I do not recommend this book for insomniacs!

    What I found most refreshing about this novel, aside from the great plot, was the accuracy in storytelling of its technical aspects. Sharing your passion for science and technology (and with computer science being one of the feathers in my cap), I find it most frustrating to read a great story that is failed only by the author getting technical details completely wrong.

    This is my first time even visiting an author’s website, which is a testament to the impact that your story had on me. I am now looking for where I can find your second book and I look forward to sharing a few more hours of my life with your intellect.

  19. Mike says:

    I am currently reading the US version of Max Impact. I am enjoying it; however, your spelling of “all right” as “alright” makes me cringe every time I encounter it–even in the dialogue.
    I know some dictionaries say it’s okay, but as a freelance writer and a writing teacher, I believe spelling it as two words is more correct. Keep up the good work!

  20. Mike,
    Thanks for posting. Yes, I seem to remember that the very first e-mail I ever received about the book was from a fellow who said he’d never read anything I wrote again, specifically because I’d used that spelling of the colloquialism ‘alright.’

    Choices like that can rub people the wrong way, especially professionals like yourself, but it’s hard to avoid every one of them. To me, there was a subtle difference in the way the word worked as it was read (and I think it only appears in dialogue), and I just liked it better as written. I believe in Seven Seconds, though, I’ve exclusively used it as “all right” as a tip of the hat to anyone who objected to the usage in the first book. :)

    All the best,
    Jack

  21. Dushyant says:

    Hi Jack,

    I picked up a copy of maximum impact during my last Dubai trip and I have to say that 3 hrs have never went by so fast. It is an awesome book. The first thing I resolved to do was to google you to check out your work. Will definitely follow you from now on.
    Just a quick question though- Since I dont have the book copy with me anymore (friend borrowed it), I am unable to remember the latin quote mentioned near the end. Something to do with “from th shadows then, we will fight”. I googled it but could not find it. Can you please confirm the actual quote?
    thanks and have a great day
    DJ

  22. I wrote back to you directly just now, but I’ll post my reply here, too…

    ______________
    DJ,

    Thanks for writing. Actually, I think that quote is from the first 1/3 of the book, rather than near the end.

    It’s “In umbra, igitur, pugnabimus,” and I’d forgotten that I took a little bit of liberty in the character’s translation of the Latin in the book. Jeannie reads it as “from the shadows, then, we will fight,” which is to say, our enemies are more powerful than we are, so we’ll have to stay hidden and be as clever as possible to have a chance.

    I’m going from memory here, but I think the original quote came from a written account of the battle of Thermopylae. (Did you see “300?” It might even be in the movie, but in English…) According to the story, Leonidas got a message from the commander of the massive enemy forces, to the effect that there would soon be so many arrows coming at them that the attack would blot out the sun. So the king replied, “Then we will fight in the shadows,” which is a literal translation of the quote. More about raw bravery than covert operations.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book, DJ, and thanks for your kind words.

    All the best,

    Jack
    _____________________

  23. bones says:

    Damn these slow onion routers! Anyhow, a few comments. I just finished your “7 Seconds” and the style, terse and punchy, grabbed me immediately. I was however a bit miffed at the end because it seemed hasty, perhaps a deadline? There were also plot devices left in the air (April’s tryst with the laborer and his naive play on her dormant feelings – then he was gone not to re-appear!), the unsatisfactory brevity of the end vis a vis the colossal high-tech parasitic conspiracy which survived…to be written of another day, and other aspects. Up to approximately 50 pages prior to the end, it was a great read. Then, not so great. Why would perfect assassins such as Griffin and Medici make those grievous errors leading to their respective dooms? So out of character and disappointing. Again, hasty. Those pesky deadlines. I detect the ghost of deus ex machina(e).

  24. Bones,
    Someday I’ll have to write a book about the writing of that book. I’m not sure what the demand for such a thing would be, but it sounds like you, for one, would be interested.

    The short answer to some of your concerns is, while the first novel (Circumference of Darkness / Maximum Impact) wasn’t particularly in need of a sequel, now that one exists they both need a third to really complete them. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to that now, but it does need to be done someday.

    You didn’t mention if you’d read that first book or not; it would be great to hear your thoughts on that one, if you have. One thing I can tell you that’s germane to your note: the first novel didn’t have any deadline at all as it was written, so you’ll at least see the effect of that removed constraint.

    So there are loose ends in SS, but if it’s any comfort I think there are solid plans for all of them. That’s of no great satisfaction to the suspended reader, and believe me, I understand exactly what you’ve expressed. Thank you so much for taking the time to write, and if we continue this discussion via the relative privacy of e-mail, I might be persuaded to spill some additional beans.

    Thanks again, Bones,

    Jack

  25. Mascot says:

    Picked up Maximum Impact totally by chance in a book shop, and am loving it..! It moves at a cracking pace and is a real page-turner. I had a passing interest in the phreaking sub-culture of the 60s and 70s but this has inspired me to research more. Amazing stuff, especially for a first novel. Will definitely be getting Seven Seconds next. Good stuff – keep it up, Jack.

  26. Joel S says:

    Jack, I picked up your book Circumference of Darkness at the local public library for a buck. They have a program where people donate their used books and the money goes to the library. What a deal! Great book! I will look for your second book.

  27. linda carroll says:

    Just discovered you & Maximum Impact!.. Read with Jeff Harding. A superb book and I loved RUDI as a character…laughed out loud more than once. Will explore the rest of your work now and sit & read in Dorset garden Uk! thanks & hope such feedback is good for you!

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