New York Times best-selling author speaks with students


New York Times best-selling author speaks with students

8:28 p.m. PST January 12, 2016

Author April Henry kills people … but only on paper.

That’s what the New York Times best-selling mystery writer told students at North Salem High School on Tuesday.

Henry visited the school to meet with students, talk about her experience as a writer and what she writes about, and present “how (she) quit (her) day job and became a killer and a thief.”

Henry said she likes to take ideas from real-life crimes and incidents she hears and reads about, then turn them into their own mysteries. She writes books for both teens and adults.

She published her first book in 1999 and will come out with her 20th book in May titled, “The Girl I Used to Be.”

When she was in her early 20s, a man broke into her apartment while she was showering.

Though she was lucky enough to escape, she said she has asked herself who she would be now if she hadn’t. This plays into her approach with new crimes and ideas, as she keeps asking herself, would I be able to escape this situation?

As a student of Brazilian Jujitsu and Kung Fu, Henry has expressed the importance of “learning to fight back” and the ability to protect oneself.

Henry is also intrigued by these stories due to a murder in her own family — her great-grandfather shot and killed her grandmother’s boyfriend.

These factors and more have fostered Henry’s passion for mystery writing, which she shared with the students in her presentation.

Though hundreds of students saw Henry speak throughout the day in the school’s auditorium, a select group of staff and students had the opportunity to eat lunch with her in the library and ask her questions about writing as well.

Kelly Bullock, 18, is a senior at North. She learned of the opportunity to each lunch with Henry in her creative writing class.

“I think it’s really cool,” Bullock said. “I’ve been thinking about becoming a writer and I thought this would be a chance for me to get my questions answered.”

It seemed the other students had similar thoughts, as Bullock said she didn’t end up asking any questions — the other students asked them all before her.

During the luncheon, Henry explained her personal writing processes and the steps each writer has to take to get a book published.

Interested in writing at a young age, Henry started writing stories when she was in fourth or fifth grade. As she grew up, she thought she needed to be rich and established to be a writer.

Though she was neither, she said she attempted to succeed in the field nonetheless.

She said she didn’t give up, even after countless rejection letters, and it paid off.

She said, “The only person who can tell you that you can’t do something is you, when you stop trying.”, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate or

For more information or to get in contact with April Henry, go to

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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