by Timothy Pike
“Life changing.” A “privilege and a gift” with “amazing power.”
All of these describe the written word, according to award-winning author Liberty Henwick, who happens to know a thing or two about it. It’s here, in a country cottage near the town of Wexford, Ireland, that she recently rediscovered writing. “It wasn’t until three years ago that I started up a blog and realized how much I absolutely loved it,” she says. “Now I just can’t get enough of it.”
Born in the U.K. to a South African father and Scottish mother, Liberty grew up in Johannesburg, and now lives in the Irish countryside with her husband and four kids. In addition to raising her children and posting prolifically on her blog, this multi-talented writer also moonlights as a graphic designer, art teacher, and painter.
While checking her blog stats recently, Liberty was astonished to see hits coming from nearly every country in the world. “That just blew my mind,” she says. “It made me realize how we can spread a message worldwide just through our writing. What a huge responsibility that is—and yet what an exciting possibility.”
One of those exciting possibilities is the novel she’s writing. After winning the Fan Favorite Award in the ChapterBuzz 10K Novel Writing Challenge, her crime thriller work-in-progress, P.S., shot to the top of the ChapterBuzz Chart, and has remained there since. This is due in no small part to its exciting premise, which pulls you right in and keeps you reading:
P.S. is the story of magazine journalist Jennifer Pendergast, who inadvertently uncovers a crime ring in Johannesburg, leading her into the dangerous world of game poaching. As she follows the trail, she realizes that everything she loves is suddenly at stake, and must fight not to become a victim herself.
According to Liberty, P.S. started with only a few words, and blossomed from there. “I just had the first sentence,” Liberty tells me, “even though I had no clear idea of what I was going to write after that. I usually have the seed of an idea in my mind and then just start writing. You never know what your mind holds in store until the creative process unlocks it.”
Indeed, the few words she started with were powerful enough to unlock an entire novel. This project is the culmination of a lifelong journey with many influences along the way, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
But it was the whimsical words of Roald Dahl—of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame—that captivated young Liberty’s imagination and opened the door to new possibilities for her writing. “I enjoyed creating rhyming sentences,” she tells me, “and my schoolteacher encouraged me to write poetry.” These days, we get to enjoy the fruits of that encouragement; Liberty has already had three of her poems published in Books & Buzz Magazine, including one in this month’s issue. Then there’s this one from January, which showcases her art.
Liberty can also attest to the power that words have to heal. In 2016, after losing her nephew to a sudden illness, Liberty found herself unable to write anything for six weeks. “When you are hit with so much pain, words escape you,” she says. But as time went on, she found solace in words. “Once I started to write about it, I found that the writing itself helped me process the sadness,” Liberty tells me. “I was angry and had so many questions, and although I didn’t find all the answers, I found my joy in writing again.”
Words can also provide comfort in the face of adversity. Most writers will experience the sting of rejection at some point, and when this happens, Liberty turns to words to help her move past the negative feelings. “I withdraw for a little while and question my ability,” she says, “It takes me a bit of time to lick my wounds and climb back into the saddle, but once I’m back running free I remember why I was up there in the first place.”
Her steadfast determination is good news for her readers, because Liberty plans to finish up P.S. and bring it to its exciting conclusion. She even has aspirations for it after it’s published: her ultimate dream, she says, would be for P.S. to be made into a movie.
In the meantime, sharing her creativity with others is important to Liberty. “I know it’s possible to write a story—or paint a picture—and keep it stored away in a drawer where no one will ever appreciate it,” she says. “But there’s so much more joy to be had by sharing that work with another.”
“Seeing the enjoyment they receive from it,” adds Liberty, “your joy is literally doubled.”