Frederick Henderson made a bucket list before retiring to Florida, and now, after the publication of his first novel, he's checked every item off of it.
BY WAYNE GRANT | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Many retirees come to Florida expecting quiet, slow days in the sun. But others, like Frederick Henderson, come with a bucket list in hand, ready for action.
Henderson, 61, who retired to Ormond Beach in 2009, says overcoming lifelong shyness was his biggest obstacle in tackling the items on his list, which included getting involved with community theater, singing in front of an audience, learning to ride a motorcycle and writing a book.
With the publication of his first novel, "Early Retirement (Murder in Daytona)," Henderson has conquered every item.
In the past four years, he has also been involved in several productions at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center, he regularly sings karaoke at the local Moose Lodge and at Ocean Deck, in Daytona Beach, and he rides his Yamaha Stratoliner every day.
“He really came out of his shell when we moved to Florida,” Henderson's wife, Lorelei, said. “He was always so quiet and reserved.”
“Early Retirement (Murder in Daytona)” was self-published by Henderson, as F.C. Henderson, in May, through Create-Space, an Amazon company. He will host book signings 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 6, at Connie's Bookshelf, 206 Moore Ave., in Daytona Beach; and 1-3 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at the Daytona Beach Flea Market.
To kick off his writing campaign, Henderson started with the story of how he and Lorelei both took early retirement from the United States Postal Service and moved to Daytona Beach. It was the only thing he could think to write about. But after his wife started volunteering at a local abuse shelter, the scope quickly changed.
She would come home with stories of abused women who had no one to turn to, and Henderson began incorporating their stories into his writing. But he never made an outline or really planned the novel, he says. He just let his imagination lead him.
“I did not make a conscious decision to write on this topic,” he said. “I just started and couldn’t stop because I wanted to see what happened next. People who read it say they can’t put the book down, and that’s how I felt when I was writing it. I couldn’t stop.”
He feels his book tells a story that "had to be told."
“It’s something people need to know about,” he said, of domestic abuse. “We need to know what goes on behind closed doors from the ghettos to rich suburbs. You can’t close your eyes to it. As ugly as it is, you have to look.”
His wife is currently a victims’ advocate for the Port Orange Police Department. “He portrays the more severe cases,” she said.
Although Henderson did not use actual people or events in his book, he drew from different victims and created composites to tell his story.
“This is their story,” he said. “They should hold up their heads high and be heard.”
Dottie D’Esposito, a neighbor of Henderson's who performed with him in the Aberdeen Follies and Review, at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center, said she is “honored” to know a person who has accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.
“He put his heart and soul into everything,” she said. “He’s the all-around, multi-talented type. ... And (his book) is a real thriller. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
And there will definitely be a next one, Henderson says, titled "Sisters of the Skull and Roses."
Mounting his motorcycle, with a rear fender reading "F-bomb," his karaoke nickname, Henderson said that retirement is not an ending; it's a beginning.
“I have no special skills, no special talent,” he said. “My advice for other retirees is just to get up and do it. I’m enjoying my retirement.”