N. M. Henderson: Science and Technology

Hello! I’m N. M. Henderson, the science-and-technology member of our writing superhero quartet. (Not our cyber-wizard – That’s CT Bridges.)

Writing Habitat

I usually write about people in bad places trying to make the best choices they can against impossible odds. My favorite heroes are the ordinary people (no ‘chosen ones’ here!) trying to do the right thing and having a big impact on the world around them as a result.

Some of my tales are small scale, and some are big, world-cracking extravaganzas, but they’re always from the point of view of one or two very human protagonists.

Look for lots of sensory detail, plenty of magic, strong friendships, and protagonists with grit. You’ll probably also see some of the things I love pop up here and there – gardening and agriculture; the forest, the mountains, and the sea; horses, cats and raptors; metalwork, woodwork and fiber arts; food preparation and preservation.

Motivation and Influences

Why do I write? Because when I don’t, the stories in my head are just too darn loud! I’ve always loved to read (my baby album is full of photos of me in unlikely places, hidden behind various books), and for me, writing is an extension of that love.

I grew up loving Tolkien (as did so many people) and C.S. Lewis, growing into Anne Mccaffrey, C.J. Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, Jim Butcher, Elizabeth Bear, and so many more. I played tabletop roleplaying games, creating worlds for my friends to swashbuckle through.

Origin Story

How did I end up here?

I got a taste – a bitter taste- of writing in collaboration in a group with few guidelines and no lines of communication. I mentioned on Holly Lisle’s website (in a discussion on Collaboration) that I wouldn’t want to do it again. Not unless certain criteria were met, and certain understandings were in place.

Three other members of the community read my post and replied “Looks good! When do we start?”

Rather than explain that I’d been talking about why I DIDN’T collaborate, I dropped them all a note, and we got organized. We called it the ‘Accidental Collaboration Club’ at first.

Collaboration Superpower

So why do these wonderful, inventive people keep me around? What’s the special ability I bring to this group?

My job around here is to bring order to the chaos of creation.

You tell me what the magic does – I find systems that make it work so we can predict the other things it will do – and what it can’t, so we can figure out where our characters will get into trouble. And once I’ve found a system, I develop a metaphor for it so other members of the group can understand and use it easily.

You tell me what kind of terrain we have and our general climate? I’ll help you figure out what grows here, and what your characters are eating for lunch, and what the city smells like in the fall.

You tell me what your character needs to do, and I’ll find ways for them to do it with the resources, technology and magic available to them.

So as the other three bring creative creatures (literal and metaphorical) to life, I make sure that our ideas don’t choke each other out, that we all have room to work in this menagerie together, and that every new creation has a chance to show off its very best moves.

Secret Identity

My real-life identity is pretty straightforward – I’m a mechanical engineer working on computer-controlled drivetrains for heavy equipment, mostly defense-related. (What? No, seriously. There’s a lab and everything. No radioactive spiders, alas.) I’m female, in my mid-forties, one husband, no children, a range of pets over the years, mostly named for historical scientists. I have a chronic illness, so if I go quiet for a little while, that’s probably why. I enjoy fiber arts, metalwork, historical food preparation, gardening, all kinds of research (hands-on and book-related), and goofing around in the outdoors. But if you can’t find me anywhere else? I’m probably curled up in an unlikely corner, hidden behind a book.