Back with a new segment in my Authors in Isolation series. I’m with one of my favourite authors, Charles Phipps, who was kind enough to come into my Thousand Scar den. He even accepted a drink from Horse.
Braver man than me, Charles.
1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Oh, I write a bunch of things with over twenty books out already. However, the books dearest to my heart are my Supervillainy Saga books. They’re an ongoing series following Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain without Mercy. Gary is an ordinary average schlub who suddenly finds himself with a magic cloak in a superhero-filled world. He thus decides to use it to get rich and act utterly irresponsibly. But is he evil ENOUGH to be the bad guy he wants to be? His wife doesn’t think so. I basically sold it as, “Evil Wizard Spider-Man.” The Rules of Supervillainy was surprisingly well received and still remains my best-selling work.
2. How do you develop your plots and characters?
I tend to draw on my lengthy experience as a gaming geek to plot out my novels. The first thing to do is make the characters as rich and vibrant as possible with strong personalities. Then you roughly plot out where you want the story to go like an adventure module. You stick the characters inside the story and see how they react before recording the results. Oftentimes, where I plan to go with the story completely goes off the rails since my characters are smarter than me.
3. Tell the world about your current project!
I recently released a standalone novel tied to my urban fantasy world, The United States of Monsters, called Psycho Killers in Love. Which is an homage to 80s slasher movies and the 90s deconstruction of them like Scream or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s about a brother and sister pair of slashers trying to resist their supernatural urge to kill before meeting a slasher-hunter trained by her parents to exterminate their kind. So, of course, love blossoms and they decide to take down a serial-killing misogynist cult. Ah love.
I’m also working on the seventh book of my Supervillainy Saga books called The Horror of Supervillainy. It’ll follow Gary as he attempts to fight Dracula to rescue the President’s daughter as part of his attempt to win a pardon so he can live a “normal” life. Obviously, this is going to fail miserably and was always a setup.
4. Who would you say is the main character of your latest novel? And tell me a little bit about them!
William England and Nancy Loomis are the titular Psycho Killers in Love. William is a huge brutish sort of man but is a naturally gentle soul who doesn’t want to kill. It’s just that he’s supernaturally compelled to and knows exactly what evils people have done. He’s a bit like Dexter in Alexander Skarsgard’s body. Nancy, by contrast, was raised by a mother and grandmother who both survived slasher attacks. As such, they put her through hell growing up in order to turn her into a weapon. Thankfully, she has a bit of supernatural power herself. Known as an “Artemis”, she can sense and counteract the power of slashers as well as heal most injuries. Together, they’d make a formidable pair–if they don’t kill each other first.
Gary is a character that I think will work well for readers because we explore his journey through his crazy superhero-filled world through a 1st person perspective. He’s a crazy, snarky, and pop cutlure-referencing hero like a lot of the MCU’s ones but also a guy with a really solid emotional core. He has his reason for doing what he does but he’s lost in the sheer power and fun of it all too. I drew a lot from the Dresden Files, Joss Whedon’s work, and my own MST3000-esque commentary on superhero fiction.
5. Have you been to any conventions? If so, tell me a little about them!
I’ve been to a few but sadly I don’t get out to nearly as many as I would like. Instead, I must meet my friends on social media and try to make connections there.
6. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Oh, I always wanted to be a writer. I think it was my first dream job when I was like six. I just wasn’t any good until after college.
7. What advice would you give new writers?
Be patient. Edit, edit, edit. Cultivate a strong social media profile. Work hard to promote your books. Don’t get discouraged if your first book isn’t a success. Network. Listen to other writers more experienced than you as well as readers. Don’t fall for marketing scams or crooked publishers.
8. What inspires you to write?
Stephen King’s “On Writing” says that the written word is like milk in the fridge. It tastes like what you leave it against. I love to immerse myself in the genre that I am writing. In the case of the Supervillainy Saga, that means that I have an excuse to buy and read a bunch of comics as well as watch superhero movies in the name of “research.” I had a similar excuse for watching slasher movies for Psycho Killers in Love.
9. Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
A mixture of both. I tend to make the stars of my book and let the characters meet the plot. What they do is how the plot proceeds. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what they’ve done with my ideas multiple times.
10. Which is your favorite season to write in, and why?
I’m definitely a Fall man. Halloween, leaves, and spookiness.
11. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
The characters need to be multiple layers of personality and you have to understand them. Once you know them as intimately as what sort of pizza they like, only then can you really unleash them. I’m kind of possessed by mine when I write them.
12. What are your future project(s)?
I have multiple series currently out and I want to finish up them as trilogies for the most part. The majority are part of my United States of Monsters universe like The Bright Falls Mysteries, Straight Outta Fangton, The Red Room Trilogy, and the aforementioned Psycho Killers in Love.
But I intend to continue the Supervillainy Saga for at least twelve books.
13. What is your favorite book ever written?
Oddball choice but Dead Beat by Jim Butcher. That introduced me into urban fantasy. It has an animate T-Rex skeleton and other insanity.
14. Who are your favorite authors?
Mainstream: Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Anne Rice, Charles Stross, and Kim Harrison.
Indie: A.M. Justice, M.K. Gibson, Darius Brasher, Sarah Chorn, Ulff Lehmann, Richard Nell, M.L. Spencer, and David Niall Wilson.
15. What makes a good villain?
A compelling villain is one that is the hero in their own story. However, a good antagonist is someone that reflects and reveals something about the hero.
16. What do you like to do in your spare time?
What spare time? What isn’t writing is researching, plotting, and plotting the takeover of the world.
17. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
No better job to have.
18. Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
I drink religious amounts of tea from Tim Hortons every day. Three large cups at the least.
19. You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
Tell me when they discover something interesting off Earth.
20. Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?
If you love superhero fiction then I strongly recommend Darius Brasher and M.K. Gibson. I also would like to give props to my co-author Michael Suttkus, who is a great guy and has helped bring my worlds to the masses. He’s my co-author on I was a Teenage Weredeer, Lucifer’s Star, and Brightblade.
21. Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
I’d love to hang out with my characters Gary, Cindy, and Jane Doe. That would be a laugh riot.
22. What superpower would you most like?
Magic. Which is cheating.
23. What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)
I love Larry Elmore’s original Dragonlance art. I remember seeing his cover with Raistlin Majere and Crysania for the Legends books and falling in love.
24. It’s a very difficult time right now for the world. When quarantine and pandemic comes to an end, what is the first thing you would like to do?
Chinese buffet. Lots and lots of Chinese buffet.
Finally, 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)?
Facebook Fan Club: https://twitter.com/Willowhugger
Author Page: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/
My books, Brightblade and Esoterrorism are currently on sale for 99c as part of a month long promotion for November. The Rules of Supervillainy will be available for 99c for the month of December.
The Rules of Supervillainy: https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Supervillainy-Saga/dp/1949914402/