Author has local ties

Published 1:05 am Thursday, October 27, 2011

Author Henry Gorham signs a book for a fan Saturday at I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store in Washington. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

An Emerald Isle attorney with Beaufort County ties has written a novel that tackles major themes, from the United States’ dependence on foreign oil to the search for alternative forms of energy.
Henry Gorham’s first-ever novel, “Secotan,” starts in 1714 at the internationally famous, and long lost, Indian domain from which the book takes its name.
The capital of an Algonquian nation, Secotan was the eastern North Carolina village painted by Englishman John White as part of a 1585 expedition to the New World.
“The beautiful daughter of the village shaman crosses cultural boundaries and engages in an unlikely romance with one of the colonial leaders of the nearby Bath Colony,” reads a synopsis from Gorham. “Their romantic connection sets the stage for an intriguing web of future events that unfold in the year 2008.”
The book is shot through with local references to everything from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to Fountain powerboats which, until recently, were manufactured off Whichard’s Beach Road near Chocowinity.
Gorham, who works out of a Raleigh law office and has a home on the Pamlico River in Beaufort County, said he couldn’t resist tying the county, with which his family has been associated for three generations, to events in the book.
“I started with what I knew, with the Pamlico River as sort of a stepping stone to that topic,” he said.
His interest in writing about alternative energy began in 2008, he said, when “the world economies were running on all cylinders and gas prices at the top were $4 and going higher.”
He also recalled waiting on line for gas during the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, a more-distant form of inspiration.
“I really tried not to take sides on the issue,” Gorham said of the ongoing national energy debate. “As many people as you find who say we’re outstripping demand, you’ll find as many people who argue the other side of it. I really wanted to raise awareness.”
The back cover of “Secotan” notes the story traces the fortunes of “Kurt Benjamin, Director of Alternative Energy Research for a major oil company,” and another protagonist, Sarah Carpenter, chief operating office of the fictitious Dutch Phosphate Corp.
Neither of these characters is based on people Gorham actually knows, but some of the minor characters are.
“Realizing that their success will likely cost the world’s major oil companies billions in lost profits, Sarah and Kurt take extraordinary measures to keep their project covert,” the jacket reads.
The pair’s involvement in “a bold energy research project” leads to contretemps with “unknown enemies who learn of their discoveries,” the jacket shows.
“I hope it’s an entertaining read,” Gorham said. “It’s meant to be a fun read, and something that would raise awareness of the issues that I think are going to be front and center in the next five to 10 years.”
Copies of “Secotan: An Alternative Energy Novel,” are available for purchase on and Barnes & Noble’s website or, locally, at I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store in Washington.
For more information, see