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Contagious Reads Interview: C.T. Phipps
Section One: Writing
CR: Are you a planner or an organic writer?
C.T. Phipps: Do I have to choose? I generally have a rough idea of what I want to do with a story but, very often, the characters run away with themselves once I start getting things to page. I’ve had to throw out whole half-novels because I just didn’t think the story fit with the characters I’d written or what I wanted to do with them.
For example, THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY and ESOTERRORISM both went in fairly wild directions when their protagonists decided they’d try to outsmart the villains my outline had being smarter than them. I tend to think of myself as a kind of Dungeon Master (for those gamers out there) who sets the stage for his characters and proceeds to let them run wild in it based on their characterizations. It can often be something of a pain as stories go off the rails very quickly but, honestly, it makes for a more entertaining read!
CR: Do you use other forms of art/music as inspiration for writing?
C.T. Phipps: When I was writing THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY, I deluged myself in comic books and superhero movies as well as literature to get myself in the proper mood. For writing ESOTERRORISM, I watched the Daniel Craig Bond movies and listened to the soundtracks for all of them on a continual loop. It’s amazing how this sort of stuff can get you in a proper writing mood. My upcoming fantasy novels, WRAITH KNIGHT, was inspired by watching the Lord of the Rings films back-to-back and listening to “Heavy Mithril “like Blind Guardian.
CR: Are there genres or types of stories that you feel more drawn to tell? Why do you think you are drawn to those?
C.T. Phipps: I’m inclined to two almost diametrically opposed concepts which always seem to gel together in my stories: humor and darkness. I think humor primarily exists to help us deal with the absurd parts of our world so I am instinctively drawn to stories where our heroes deal with the troubles of their world by being a smartass. As for my worlds, I tend to shy away from easy answers and morality. My heroes exist in worlds where heroes and villains are not easy distinctions to make while the endings tend to be bittersweet at best. My wiseass heroes aren’t guaranteed to succeed but, really, they try their very hardest and isn’t that enough?
CR: What is one genre that you don’t think you could write, and why?
C.T. Phipps: I’m pretty sure I can write science-fiction, horror, fantasy, urban fantasy, grimdark, and any combination thereof. Everything else? I might as well be trying to design a space-shuttle. One area that I realize I have no ability to imagine writing is the Western. I once tried to sit down and write one, only to realize I had no idea how to do it. I’d watched them before but it’s a genre I simply don’t understand the building blocks of. I consider that something of a wasted opportunity with such great works as DEAD WEST by Ragnarok Publications.
CR: Do you utilize writing tools, such as scrivener, or do you go old school and use MS-DOS like George R.R. Martin?
C.T. Phipps: I’m definitely a WordPad and Microsoft Word sort of man. I used to carry a notebook around filled with my dozens of notes on my world but that’s all in my laptop now. Still, I can’t help but look at the more advanced and tech savvy writers out there and wonder if I shouldn’t let the computer help me with my writing more. Certainly, it would save my editors a great deal of headache!
CR: Is there an author, alive or dead, that you would love to collaborate on a book with? Why do you think you would be a good fit together?
C.T. Phipps: I like to think I could convince J.R.R Tolkien to let me write a couple of books set in Mordor from the Easterling, Orc, and Ringwraith perspectives with enough bugging. Otherwise, I’m actually getting to work with a lot of people I’ve wanted to work with. Jim Bernheimer, Tim Marquitz, Rob J. Hayes, Shana Festa, Devan Sagliani, and so on are some of my favorite indie authors and we’re collaborating on a lot of cool stuff together.
Section Two: Reading
CR: What are you reading right now?
C.T. Phipps: I have been enjoying Tim Marquitz’s DEMON SQUAD and CLANDESTINE DAZE series. He’s a great writer with a collection of truly impressive smartasses at his disposal. I’m also reading Mark Lawrence’s BROKEN EMPIRE TRILOGY as well as a sneak-preview at Rob J. Hayes new TIES THAT BIND story.
CR: Do you read in the genre that you write in? If you do read it, do you think it helps or hurts your own story?
C.T. Phipps: Oh, always. I believe that surrounding yourself in the material which is similar to your own is some of the great spark for writing. Stephen King’s ON WRITING actually served as a reason for why I decided to do my work this way and I’ve found it to be very true.
CR: Do you read books based on fan recommendations? How do YOU choose what to read next?
C.T. Phipps: Oh yes, I wouldn’t have nearly the wonderful collection of wonderful books I do without great websites to recommend them to me. It’s how I discovered such great series as TIME OF DEATH, ZOMBIES ATTACK!, CLANDESTINE DAZE, CONFESSIONS OF A D-LIST SUPERVILLAIN, GNOMESAGA, VALDUCAN, and THE TIES THAT BIND. Really, there’s nothing better than getting a seal of endorsement from someone you trust.
CR: What are your reading pet peeves? (Things like: over used words, and phrases. Lack of research, infinite ammo, or lack of editing.)
C.T. Phipps: Missing an obvious mistake when editing myself.
CR: What is one book that you enjoyed so much that you recommend it to everyone?
C.T. Phipps: BLACKGUARDS: TALES OF ASSASSINS, MERCENARIES, AND ROGUES. It’s a fantasy anthology I rank up with the best I’ve ever read. I’ve also got to say that I think TIME OF DEATH: INDUCTION is the only zombie novel I would recommend to everyone rather than just fans of zombies or horror in general since it’s FUNNY AS HELL.
Section Three: Fun Stuff
M&M’s or Skittles
C.T. Phipps: Snickers.
Coffee or Tea
C.T. Phipps: I drink coffee in the morning and tea throughout the day.
Music or Silence
C.T. Phipps: Music. I listen to a mixture of Country and Heavy Metal which causes my wife just to STARE at me whenever my CDs are together.
Morning or Night
C.T. Phipps: Night.
Cold Weather or Hot Weather
C.T. Phipps: Rainy.
Thank you so much C.T.!!! I listen to a mixture of pop and metal, so I get weird looks when my music is on shuffle too. And writing Western would be hard. Love watching old Western movies but I’m not sure it’s a world that I could build!
Don’t forget to check out his other book The Rules of Supervillainy!!!
About the Author
C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on “The United Federation of Charles” (http://unitedfederationofcharles.blog…).
He’s recently released the novels “The Rules of Supervillainy” and “Esoterrorism.” His third novel, “Wraith Knight” is expected to release in January of 2016.