Author Interview with Alice M. Phillips

Whoo. It’s been a while for my readers to see an article from me, hasn’t it! *slinks away, head in shame). No really, it has been a long time, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve struggled for inspiration with the blog lately. I have interviews and many ideas for the blog, but it’s a matter of getting the words down to put it out there, and currently I’ve been struggling with motivation for it. I’ll try and stick to a weekly release until I can get my life sorted, then it will be back onto other matters.

Now, what’s new with me? NaNoWriMo 2016 for starters! I have made a huge start on Turning the Page, my new political fantasy series set in the war-torn kingdom of Drapnor. I’ve written some 40,000 words in a week, and finally starting to hit burnout. Note to self my friends, world-building a black hole while writing the story is a lot of fun, but prepare to slaughter it in editing later.

Today is one of the interviews I received during my shout-out for authors a while back. A problem with my computer made some of the interview documents corrupt which is a pain in the arse, so will have to do those again. This is one of the lucky ones, however. I bring you an interview with Alice M. Phillips, author of the recently released The Eighth Day Brotherhood. I haven’t read much historical fiction in my life, but it looks impressive, so check her out! Let’s give her a warm welcome. *drumroll*.

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Interview with Alice M. Phillips

Author of The Eighth Day Brotherhood

Black Rose Writing

2016

1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?

I’m an art historian and museum curator who writes historical fiction with occult and paranormal elements. I am also a visual artist, Irish fiddle musician and step-dancer, roller derby official, member of a Renaissance faire sword fighting troupe, and facsimile creator of rare historical medical books.

2. How do you develop your plots and characters?

For my most recent novel, I started with ideas I jotted down in a notebook while traveling in Paris and used an outline to develop the plot, which became quite intricate in terms of linking biblical and mythological themes for each chapter. Once I have my characters in mind, I develop them further by filling out character sheets borrowed from role-playing games and by collecting image files of paintings or places that add to that character’s story.

3. Tell us about your current project.

My new historical thriller The Eighth Day Brotherhood is about an occult scholar, an aspiring artist, and an Irish immigrant who investigate a series of mythology-themed murders in late 19th-century Paris, a decadent time for art and literature. The story takes place in Paris, 1888, as the city prepares for the Exposition Universelle and the Eiffel Tower rises on the bank of the Seine. One August morning the corpse of a young man is found suspended between the columns of the Panthéon, resembling a grotesque Icarus and marking the first in a macabre series of murders linked to Paris monuments.

4. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!

My novel revolves around three main characters. Rémy Sauvage is an occult scholar who owns a bookshop in the Latin Quarter, and becomes driven to avenge his murdered lover by apprehending the cult known as the Eighth Day Brotherhood. Claude Fournel is a quiet aspiring artist who becomes enamored with a mesmerist’s beautiful patient after witnessing a hysteria demonstration at a nearby sanitarium. Margaret “Finn” Finnegan, an Irish immigrant unwillingly confined to the sanitarium, is renowned as Dr. Veyssière’s “star” patient. Resolved to steal her away from the sanitarium and obtain her for his muse, Claude finds them both entwined in the Brotherhood’s apocalyptic plot combining magic, mythology, and murder.

5. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Keep writing and finish your projects, but don’t force it or burn yourself out. Find a good editor, or multiple editors. My novel went through at least five drafts before I submitted the final manuscript. When I experience writer’s block, I brainstorm with mind maps and outlines, or just start writing and see what happens.

6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?

The Eighth Day Brotherhood was inspired by my doctoral dissertation research in art history, specializing in nineteenth-century French Symbolist art. I lived in Paris for a semester researching Symbolist painters (mainly Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon), Victor Hugo’s spiritualist séances, and the history of mesmerism, hypnosis, and occult beliefs. I took every opportunity to explore the city and its monuments and attempt to discover its secrets. I also drew upon my Irish heritage to develop Finn’s character and my love of mythology to write the murder scenes.

7) What inspires you to write?

Inspiration can come from anywhere, but I’m often inspired by images I come across at my slide librarian career, by art in museums, by remembered snippets of dreams, and while traveling.

8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Making all the puzzle pieces of the plot fit together, especially since the novel has a specific timeline and swift pace that takes place within a few days in 1888.

9. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I had a devilishly fun time writing the sections from the main villain’s point of view, I suppose because it allowed me to experiment with assuming a completely different personality. There are some grim elements in my book, but at least someone is enjoying himself.

10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Yes. I have a strong art historical background, but I realized how much more research I needed to do on the history of Paris, its monuments, and the details of everyday life in the 1880s. I also researched quite a bit about publishing and marketing. As an introvert, I find self-promotion another difficult part of writing.

11. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?

I placed a little of myself in each main character of the novel, which helped me understand their motivations, emotions, and flaws. Rémy is a grief-stricken scholar, Claude is shy and reserved, and Finn is a young Irish woman seeking the strength to overcome the trauma of her past and face the uncertainty of her future.

12. What are your future project(s)?

I’m drafting ideas for two books: a sequel to The Eighth Day Brotherhood and a book of fantastical short stories related to my work as an art historian and curator.

13. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

I would love to be a full-time curator of European paintings, prints, and drawings in an art museum. I’m working my way there eventually, I hope, but the museum world is an extremely difficult field to break into.

14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

My website is www.mephistophelia.com/books.htm, where readers can find more information and a free preview of the novel. I can also be found at www.facebook.com/arthistorianalicewww.goodreads.com/mephistophelia, www.amazon.com/Alice-M.-Phillips/e/B01K2IYMR6, and mephistophelia.tumblr.com.

I thank you for your interview Alice, and I apologise for how long it took to get out! I hope to have other articles out when I can. Stay tuned! ❤

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