Now this is a bit of a change. I still have a lot of interviews to put out (and I haven’t forgotten those who have submitted!) But this is a new one in which I interview one of the judges. Charles Phipps is part of Booknest and a pretty awesome guy as well. He writes some awesome sci-fi and fantasy too!
So I invited him into the den of the Thousand Scars for a good drink and an interview. It turns out he can talk quite well! Here is some of his works, as well as a couple of my favourite books of his!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hi, my name is C.T. Phipps and I am the author of the Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Supervillainy Saga, Lucifer’s Star, and The United States of Monsters (The Bright Falls Mysteries, Straight Outta Fangton) series. I love writing fantasy, sci-fi, and urban fantasy. Whenever I’m inspired to write a story, I try to take that idea to its natural conclusion.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I use what I call the “Dungeons and Dragons” method of doing my books. I create characters which are as three-dimension as I can make the, roughly sketch out a series of events the characters are going to be involved in, and then let them direct how they’re going to react to them.
Tell us about your current project.
Currently, I’m working on the Straight Outta Fangton books that are my attempt to do a rebuttal to all the villain decay which vampires have suffered over the past decade or so. Not by attempting to make vampires scary again, since I know they’re scary, but writing a story from the perspective of a vampire who is neither rich, powerful, nor sexy. Instead, he just works the graveyard shift at a local convenience store outside Detroit.
However, after an older vampire leaves a hungry newborn undead in his bathroom, he finds himself involved in a conspiracy to wipe out the rulers of his kind. The sequel, 100 Miles and Vampin’ will be about how he leads the author of crappy vampire fiction on her tour of the vampire-run city, only to have to deal with the aftermath of her getting killed and him getting the blame for it.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
The star of Straight Outta Fangton is Peter Stone who is a poor black vampire living outside of New Detroit, running the graveyard shift of a convenience store. Peter is a veteran of the Iraq War and was turned a few years ago after five years of serving a powerful older vampire. Vampires are public in this world as are other supernaturals but after becoming a vampire, Peter screwed up.
I won’t say how but he got himself exiled from the city on pain of death. However, when someone leaves a starving newborn vampire in his store’s bathroom, he has to try and help her by getting her to someone old enough to know what’s wrong with her. He’s a kind of dorky less-than-cool guy who is really a hard luck sort of guy. Mind you, he’s a lot tougher than most dorks because he has to be and, you know, still a vampire even if he’s a recently created one.
I’m equally fond of his creator, Thoth, who was turn in 1791 during the Haitian Revolution. He then spent much of his career watching the world continue on its merry way, continuing to hurt on people who looked like him and has a very jaded view of humanity. Also present is Peter’s “servant” David, who is really his best friend from high school who Peter has given blood and some of his powers. There’s a lot of other characters I enjoyed writing about like Melissa the newborn, Ashura the Queen of New Detroit, Fatima the Vampire Assassin and more but I don’t want to spoil the book.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
I think the important thing to remember when writing is to write what you like. Writing is something that requires dedication, hard work, and practice but it is also something you want to do. Do you like STAR WARS? Write something Star Wars-like. Do you like INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE? Write something with brooding tragic vampires. You should always immerse yourselves in the worlds and concepts which interest you. Because you’re going to need to love what you create and want to create what you love. I also recommend you be fully prepared to write a million words of crap before you get your first book which is any good. I rewrote CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON six times before it was ready to publication because I just wasn’t there yet until I’d learned to hammer out my worst ticks.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I tend to immerse myself in the subject of whatever I am currently reading at the time. Straight Outta Fangton was born from my love of vampire fiction before it became an enormous joke in fantasy and sci-fi forums. Interview with a Vampire, Blade, True Blood, the old Vampire: The Masquerade series, and Underworld. Oh and Clerks. Yes, because I love metatextual commentaries on the nature of vampirism and the differences between the way they were in the 19th century versus the 21st century. I even had a statement in the book that vampire media was manipulated by the Old Ones of their race to try to convince humans the undead were cool and sexy versus horrifying monsters.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired to write by life. As George R.R. Martin said, “the man who does not read lives one life, the man who reads lives a thousand.” The man who writes lives whatever life he wants.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON is one of the easiest books I’ve ever written, and I managed to write in a couple of weeks. It was a crazy experience because I got up, wrote from day til night, then repeated with no breaks in-between save for eating or the bathroom. I was truly inspired by the world of vampires, werewolves, and vampire hunters which came to me in my dreams.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I have to say I very much enjoyed writing a particularly dark scene with Peter that reminded me (and the readers) that while it’s primarily a hilarious romp–that these are vampires. They are carrying a terrible curse, that they are hungry for blood, and that they have no control over their hunger whenever it flares up. It was a shocking moment for a lot of my readers and very popular as it really showed what a dreadful thing vampires were. I always felt that was where Anne Rice’s vampires (and subsequent knock-offs) went array as after Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat–they stopped thinking of it as a bad thing to be.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
That just because a book can be churned out quickly, doesn’t mean it’s not your best work.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I prefer to give my characters a healthy mixture of flaws and virtues. They should have something they’re willing to do the immoral thing before so they’re not paragons as well as something that inspires them to do the right thing. Once you understand the Devil and Angel which motivate a character, you understand the character.
What are your future project(s)?
Just finished the sequel, 100 Miles and Vampin’ where Peter Stone is required to escort a newly turned Stephanie Meyers stand-in, only to become at the center of an anti-vampiric conspiracy that also ties to an ancient god’s vengeance.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Couldn’t be anything else.
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)?