Welcome All! You’ve shown up on a perfect day, because today is Friday and that means (fanfare plays) AUTHOR INTERVIEWS! This week I’m discussing our ten questions with Phillip T. Stephens, who I don’t believe that I can sufficiently describe for you right here so…Let’s get started!
Hello Phillip and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us!
- What name do you write under? Is this a pseudonym? Do you use more than one name when you write?
Phillip T. Stephens. This is my only name.
- Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.
I think I knew I was going to be an author in high school, when I was a freshman. That doesn’t mean I made a commitment to becoming one. I wrote my first pitiful attempt during my freshman and sophomore year, then got distracted by life and that was the story of my writing career for the next fifty years.
I wrote seven novels and the better half of three more, rewriting all of them several times over.
I made a commitment to becoming an author when I published my first novel Raising Hell in 2012. It’s about a clueless optimist sent to hell by accident, who decides to make hell to best place of eternal punishment possible. I wrote at least seven drafts of that and I’m still working on it.
- What genre(s) do you write in, and why?
I write in the genre the novel demands, which, I admit, hurts marketing. But when I look back on the writers who influenced me the most— Walker Percy, Thomas Pynchon, Flannery O’Connor, Saul Bellow—genre didn’t exist for them. Sales only became genre driven in the last twenty or thirty years.
- What genres are your favorites to read? Why?
I don’t have a favorite. I like global thrillers, mysteries, procedurals, some science fiction, horror. In the end, however, it’s the book that appeals to me, not the genre. If I read a blurb and a sample appeals to me, I’ll read the book. Right now I pretty much read indie authors to support their efforts to break the control of the publishing industry.
- Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.
My favorite character that I wrote is Lucifer. It’s hard to talk about him without spoilers, but he’s the second most powerful being in the universe and instead of shaping his will on a kingdom of his choosing, the All-Know-Better-Than-You put him in charge of the whiners, back-stabbers, ingrates, and squabbling politicians. He can’t seem to get past the slight.
- There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?
Sure. Movies are a different art form. You have to reduce what could be an expansive concept to ninety minutes or two hours. That’s 90 to 110 pages of which most of the page is white space. People don’t get that. One script page is one film minute. And I don’t care what they say, I couldn’t sit through Lord of the Rings in a theater. Or the Hobbit
I watched all of them in the theater…each LoftR movie was seen at least twice in theater (the third one I went to 3 or maybe 4 times). I was enthralled…and about the only one who sat still through the majority of the movies! During one of the movies someone kept trying to announce intermission. It has been suggested, more than once, by my dad, that they could have made that into a 6 part series or cut half the story. He prefers the cartoons.
Writers make cuts. I wrote a script of my novel Cigerets, Guns & Beer and I’m glad I did because it made me go back and trim a lot of fat from the book. Once I visualized it for the screen I realized the book carried a lot of dead weight. And the script still cut half the book out and changes the ending entirely. Not the big ending (No spoilers) but the aftermath.
- How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t let it happen. I write through it. Any crap is better than nothing. I can fix bad writing, but I can’t use an empty page. I find that if you refuse to be blocked, you aren’t blocked.
I wish it worked like that for me! I refuse to be blocked, then I get frustrated, then I KNOW what needs written but it won’t come out. It’s like my refusal has sparked a stand off.
I don’t believe in rules for writers. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for Jessica Downthestreet. But this is one I would state as a rule. You can’t rewrite what you never wrote. And every writer I talked to who follows that principle is never blocked.
I write other things so I suppose it isn’t really writer’s block then? right? Or perhaps it is only partial blockage, like when those sadistic people block off half of the highway and make you follow the pilot vehicles…making a 10 minute trip into an hour and a half.
- What inspires you?
A lot of things. Film, art, music, faith. A story I wrote in college that won an award came from the image of a dust mote dancing in the morning light through a window.
- How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?
You mean my family? All my life? It’s part of why I didn’t publish until I was almost 60. I had to teach college. I could write, but for ad agencies and non-profit clients. I could become visual designer (which I segued into in the eighties), but I couldn’t make art for love either, I had to work for agencies and clients.
Truthfully, I’m many things and author is only part of that. I’m also a philosopher, a free-range Christian, a poet who occasionally resurfaces, and most of all a wise ass. It’s that last title that is really shining through here, I think 😉
So I know that some people will think it’s cool, and some people will think I turned like the salmon they left in their refrigerator too long. I live with it and I still visit my family once a year at Christmas and smile when they tell me about all the suburban things they’re into.
- Finally, tell us where to go to find you (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Online Bookstores, Physical Stores, Etc. List them all for us please!)
@stephens_pt where I Tweet forty-five minutes to an hour’s worth of fresh material nightly (usually between 7 – 9 pm CST)
My blog Wind Eggs: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/583139.Phillip_T_Stephens/blog
And the fan site for my book Raising Hell, g.d.i. Mondays, which is Hell’s most popular (and only) fast food franchise.
I’m using it to build a participatory fan base. I would really like young artists and writers to explore their inner imp with flash fiction, lymericks, sketches, cartoons. What a cool idea! I’ve seen participation based sites for books, like the Harry Potter (of course), but this sounds somehow fresh and different.
I will pull the best from the Goodreads forum and post them on the main site and if I get enough response, I’ll pull them together for an anthology and even pay out of pocket for my favorites. If worse comes to worse, I intend to release Raising Hell 2.0, the Director’s Cut which will include the best material in an addedendum.
So even if it’s not your thing, but you know someone with a little devil inside, pass the word.
And may I say, it’s been a real pleasure to chat with you Elizabeth. I hope we cross paths again.
Thank Phillip! I’ve enjoyed our chat as well. I’m sure there will be more to come, wicked senses of humor always seem to roll back around!
Remember, if you would like to have your own feature on an Author Interview Friday all you have to do is let me know! I can’t wait to get to know more of you and it seems like Phillip may be looking for some new books to read!
Until next time, Pick up a book or a pen and get some work done! And, as always…Be excellent to each other (!)