Paul Henry's book is sitting on top of the New Zealand bestseller list and he loves that – but says writing it with co-author Paul Little was a process he didn't enjoy at all.
What Was I Thinking is sold out in many stores. The former TVNZ Breakfast presenter is especially enjoying that because it has been up against Winning Matters, the new book by All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick, who has also been on a promotional tour.
But although he describes himself as "a huge reader" and "very good with words" actually putting a book together wasn't fun, he said in Nelson on Saturday.
"It was one of those things where you commit to something, instantly regretting you've committed to it, and then you are donkey-deep in it, wading through, trying to get to the end as quickly as possible."
His obsessive-compulsive disorder – detailed in the book – didn't help. "I like to be hands-on, I'm obsessive about every little detail. It ended up sucking the lifeblood out of me, worrying about every subtle nuance."
He worked on the cover, chose the type font, and gave the contents a notepad feel, with jottings in the margins and pictures drawn by his mother, Olive.
She had been terribly worried about her drawings, he said.
"She's no artist, but people who read the book will see why I got her to do it. Sadly, her drawing was never good and it's deteriorated badly." He laughs.
The finished product represented "a couple of squares in the tapestry of my life", and readers were telling him that he achieved his goal of creating "a damned good read" without worrying about making headlines.
Asked what's the best thing in it, he reflects. "There's a lovely picture in there of outside of probably the most wonderful house I've ever owned, which was in Homebush outside of Masterton, and the three girls [his daughters] in identical dresses standing next to the Rolls-Royce – it's like almost those were the golden years for me."
Henry's on-screen cheek led to his resignation last year after some internationally publicised remarks poking fun at the name of Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and then his comment that Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand did not "look or sound like a New Zealander".
He says being called a racist and a bigot did not hurt him.
"I know I'm not a bigot, I know I'm not a racist, and I would much rather be desperately disliked than have people have no opinion about me at all."
He prefers the comments he's been hearing on the book tour.
"People are saying things to me which are really significant, how important it was that I was able to make them laugh at a time when they desperately needed to laugh ... how I made a tangible difference in their lives, and that is wonderful." His new five-year contract with MediaWorks is split between radio and TV3. His drive-time radio show begins on July 4. The TV work is undecided. He said he would probably be part of the election coverage this year.
He expected to be involved in a TV3 version of the hit talent quest X-Factor, "easily the most expensive show they've ever done, it could be the most expensive show in New Zealand".
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