Sitting in the library between classes, Darion Harding began typing away as the result of an inspiration. Under the influence of a poetry class that semester, he knew it was time for his own project. It was 2012 and the Maple Grove resident was finishing an associate’s degree at North Hennepin Community College (NHCC). By 2013, Harding had released two juvenile fiction stories: Can Henry Make It and Henry’s Best Christmas. We caught up with him to talk about his writing and what inspires it.
MG Magazine: When did writing start for you?
Darion Harding: I began when I was about 21 years old. I had always loved the movies and loved television shows. I knew I was different than most of my friends when I realized that I didn’t care about car explosions, violent deaths and sex scenes. It was the whole process of making the project that intrigued me, from the cinematography to the acting, but most importantly the writing. Without strong writing, things tend to fall flat. I wanted to write strong stories.
MGM: Tell us about getting published.
DH: I struggled to find confidence in myself, asking myself all the time, “Should I?” “Can I?” “Is this good enough?” I’m a 25 year old college student...will people take me seriously? Only one way to find out.
I received a business certificate from NHCC, but it was no picnic working with the publishing company. Writing the book is one thing, a big thing, but having to follow through with all the business is tough. There is marketing, re-writes of the book....You have to deal with several different people from different teams including design and post publication. It is fun and the experience is invaluable—you are dealing with professional business people—but I would be lying if I said that it was easy and things happen fast.
MGM: What inspired the stories?
DH: I am a nerd at heart and I love watching shows that teach you about different parts of the world and the animals that reside there and I came across a program that spoke about New Zealand and the kiwi bird. I loved that idea of a bird that can’t fly and his struggle to understand why he can’t [fly], like other birds.
MGM: What are you up to now?
DH: I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in screenwriting at Metropolitan State University. I am set to finish a play, 3 for the show pt2 (a drama) and I am also working on a 10-minute play for a school competition. I am also developing a stage play with Story Theatre based upon the book Can Henry Make It and also working on a Halloween children’s book. I work in the theatre department at Metro State doing publicity and at Little Caesar’s in Maple Grove. I am also a tutor.
Excerpt from the book “Can Henry Make It” by Darion Harding
Henry meets another Kiwi of the same name and is lucky enough to get a bit of advice that helps him on his journey:
“Hi, my name is Henry, and that’s my friend Cable flying up in the air.”
“Hi, Henry. Do you have something you would like to share?”
“Look at everyone out there playing in the lake, not a worry at all,
never too big and never too tall.”
“What are you worried about, Henry? You’re just like them, young, fresh, and ready to be your best.”
“I’m a bird that doesn’t fly, what does that say?
Everyone has something you could never take away.”
Excerpt reprinted with permission of the author.
Can Henry Make It is a story about a young kiwi bird from New Zealand that struggles to understand why he cannot fly like other birds on the island. Henry overcomes outside pressures and stereotypes to understand that he should embrace what he is.
Darion Harding’s books are available at darionharding.wix.com/darionharding.