Interview with Henry Herz

Josh, Harrison, and Henry Herz

Interview Date: 6/30/2012


Josh and Harrison Herz are elementary school students who enjoy fantasy stories. Josh's hobbies include parkour, building with LEGOs, and painting Warhammer miniatures. Harrison plays basketball, and collects Yu-gi-oh cards and KidRobot vinyl figures. Both are big fans of The Lord of the Rings, the annual Comic-Con convention, and have an entrepreneurial bent. With design help from their dad, they started three web-based businesses selling LEGO party favors, custom cast bases for Warhammer, and painted concrete yard sculptures.
Henry Herz's love of the fantasy genre began in elementary school with Where the Wild Things Are and The Lord of the Rings, and continued with playing Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer. Struck by inspiration one day, Henry began a fun project with his two bright young sons, who share his joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. Together, they wrote this tale. By day, Henry is a management consultant who also teaches after school enrichment for elementary school children.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so? Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

Five years ago, I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my (at the time), five- and seven-year old sons. They were too young for watching most of the fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and there are only so many good fantasy books available for that age range. Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.
What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (Nimpentoad) and creature (Neebel) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? So, my goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to write.

Kev's response: That's awesome!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

I think one could do quite a bit of good (or mischief) with the ability to read others' minds. But to be useful, that superpower would have to be a secret. Hmmm. Just post on your website that I want to be able to fly.

Kev's response: Okay, it'll be "our" secret. "We" won't say anything. Right guys? Mwahaha.

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

For reasons I can't recall, I always liked Hawk Eye and Green Lantern as a kid. When you think about it, the concept of Green Lantern is a bit weird. Having just watched The Avengers movie, I'm leaning more toward Loki as an adult.

Kev's response: Someone's gotta be evil, might as well be you?

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

Since I write children's fantasy, I have the luxury of not needing to do much pre-planning. To paraphrase Tolkien, I step outside my door and let the path sweep me along.

Kev's response: Brooms work fairly well for that too!

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I write when I'm inspired (and my other commitments permit). Following a set schedule for a creative process feels too confining to me.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

Fantasy for both. I got started as a kid with "Where the Wild Things Are", graduated to "The Lord of the Rings", and never looked back.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

Giving free rein to my creativity. Getting to meet lots of interesting people. Having my sons involved so it is a wonderful development opportunity for them.

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

As a first-time author, I was not prepared for the amount of promotional effort that is required. Why don't people just know about and buy my book?! :) That said, we are pleased to have just earned our 40th Amazon 5-star review!

Kev's response: Ugh, you're singing to the choir.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

I have picky tastes in food. I like peanuts by themselves, but not in other foods. I like chocolate cake, but not chocolate ice cream. I prefer the crunchiness of wedge lettuce over the same lettuce in loose-leaf form. I cannot bring myself to eat entire creatures in one gulp (e.g., oysters, clams).

Kev's response: Okay, that's weird. Except the eating creatures thing. That's normal.

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I write one story at a time, but I may have multiple future story ideas percolating at any given time.

Are you for, or against, evil plots to take over the world?

I love evil geniuses (Zurg, Dr. Evil, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, Hans Gruber, Dr. Drakken), but I would rather they channel their energies in directions other than evil plots to take over the world.

Kev's response: WHAT?!

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I see paperbacks fading, but not being eliminated, especially for children's books. We published Nimpentoad as a paperback initially, but later put out an eBook version.

What are your current projects?

We are focused solely on promoting Nimpentoad. Those promotional activities have been limited to Southern California (and the Web). We would love to be represented by a literary agent to take Nimpentoad to the next level, broadening our reach. We think the story themes (discouraging bullying, and promoting teamwork, creativity and perseverance), and the meta-story of two boys helping to write and promote a book, send positive messages to elementary school aged kids everywhere.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

The journey takes work. If you are writing to be published, understand the publishing process. Realize that you have to build your platform BEFORE publishing, and that promoting your book after publication can involve more work than the writing itself.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

Yes, we have a nice website ( that shows off Nimpentoad's stunning artwork, author reviews, event photos, and some video trailers. We are also on Facebook and Twitter as @Nimpentoad.

Kev's response: Henry, thank you for being the voice of your trio. May your team see much success!

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