New Zealand author brings local ties to stories

Christopher Henckel of West Virginia has written a story being published in “Escape! An Anthology,” available on Kindle and other ebook formats. (Photo Provided)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — An author with ties to Wood County has been published in “Escape! An Anthology.”

Christopher Henckel, of Wellington, New Zealand, is a senior procurement specialist for the New Zealand government. He has one self-published novel “So you Wanna be a Desperado Demon Slayer,” and is working on other novels.

His mother, Rebecca Murphy, lives in Vienna and his father, Ron Hinkle, lives in Buckhannon, W.Va.

Henckel describes the anthology as a collection of 20 short stories from new and upcoming authors from around the world. It’s published by Writing Bloc Cooperative.

The stories range in genre and subject matter, he said, but all carry the common theme of escape or escapism.

Henckel’s story is titled “Cowboy for a Day.”

“My story follows a man who has issues with his memory and every 24 hours he has to remember who he is and what he’s doing. Yesterday, he was an undercover U.S. marshal busting a drug cartel,” Henckel said.

“Today, he’s a cowboy. The problem is, yesterday’s adventure isn’t over yet. And to get himself out of this pickle, he’ll have to become something different again,” said Henckel, who grew up in Buckhannon.

“Think of it as Don Quixote as a cowboy amidst a cartel drug bust. It’s a rollercoaster of fun,” he said.

“Escape! An Anthology” is scheduled for release on Jan. 1, 2019. On its opening day for pre-orders, the book made the Amazon top 100 list for contemporary short fiction, Henckel said.

Becca Spence Dobias, another author from Buckhannon, also had a story titled “Aspirant” published in the anthology, Henckel noted. It is about an aspiring nun at a Zen monastery fleeing her former life. Dobias now lives in Southern California.

West Virginia has been so inspiring to Henckel that it’s taking center stage in a science fiction novel he is working on, he said.

“It’s about a 17-year-old boy (Jamie) from West Virginia who discovers he’s going to be a daddy. But he woke up the next day on the other side of the galaxy where no one has ever heard of Earth, much less West Virginia,” he said.

“Motivated to see his baby, Jamie spends the next 20 years vigorously trying to find his way back home to West Virginia. When he eventually finds the clue he’s been searching for, Jamie must gamble everything his life has become in the last 20 years at the prospect of returning home,” Henckel said.

This book is an adventure led by a boy whose every decision is influenced by growing up in West Virginia, Henckel said.

Henckel said he left West Virginia in 2004 after working at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, where he made friends from South America, Australia and New Zealand.

He said he intended to stay only a few years in New Zealand and then return home to West Virginia. He met his partner, Annaliese, a few months after arriving in New Zealand and they have been together ever since, Henckel said.

They have two children, Avery and Coco, and are established to stay in New Zealand, he said.

“New Zealand is about the size of California. But jammed into this little space you can explore active volcanoes, glaciers, deserts, etc. New Zealand offers enthusiasts an abundance of extreme sports, earning it the title ‘adventure capital of the world,”‘ he said.

Although New Zealand is a sparsely populated country, it is expensive to live there, Henckel said.

As a senior procurement specialist, Henckel said, he spends taxpayers’ money to make purchases and facilitate transaction on behalf of the government. His current focus is in the biosecurity space.

Given the chance, Henckel said, he would return to West Virginia. “It’s my home. It’s who I am.”

When he arrived in New Zealand, Henckel said he tried many different mediums for his creative release — painting, stone carving, etc. But it wasn’t until he discovered writing that he discovered the focal point of his talent, he said.

Henckel said he and Becca Dobias met online when they realized they were both writing books about people who’d left West Virginia and, more than anything, desired to return home. “It was rather serendipitous given that we are both from West Virginia (Buckhannon) and have left home,” he said.