5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Indie Author Interview: Luke Phillips

Indie Author Interview with Luke Phillips - Author of the Horror / Thriller Shadow Beast.

Luke Phillips has had a passion for wildlife since childhood. Whilst spending family holidays on the shores of Loch Ness as a child, his imagination was caught by the stories of the monster within its depths. Having later studied as a zoologist, his writing has always been inspired by the darker side of our unnatural history.

Interview with Luke Phillips

Author Luke Phillips
Author Luke Phillips
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Luke Phillips: I always used to enjoy writing stories in school. I used to get a bit of a buzz from letting my imagination run away and telling my friends tales. But I had some great teachers who really encouraged me to take creative writing a bit more seriously. From that aspect, it was always a case of writing for pleasure, just writing for myself.
Its always tried to weave its way into my work though. I generally believe that writers feel an actual need to write and it seeps through into all the other aspects of their life. So working in marketing, my copy writing would take imaginative leaps. Writing anything from property brochures to car descriptions gave me an opportunity to flex my writing muscles.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
It can really vary, depending what I'm in the mood for. But the books I go back to again and again are The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Rats by James Herbert, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Call of the Wild by Jack London. Any of Henry Williamson's books (read Salar the Salmon if you've already read the better known Tarka the Otter) and Wild Animals I have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton, as well as Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl are what I call comfort books - stories to get away from the world for a bit when you need to.
Its hard to pick favourite writers too, but just glancing at my shelves gives it away a little bit. James Herbert was one of the greatest British horror writers and his works can be movingly beautiful such as in Once, or downright gory and brutal like in The Rats. I love Hemingway's essays like A Moveable Feast and I haven't found a Terry Pratchett book I didn't like. I also have plenty of guilty pleasures. I loved the Willard Price adventures when I was a kid and still delve back into them on occasion, and am very pleased to see the adventures continuing with a new generation too. I love the Steve Alten Meg books too. But on the right day you'll find me curled up with a Craig Thomas or a Lee Child as well.
My writing influences are equally variable, but I read a lot of non-fiction as research. I have piles of books on bigfoot, werewolves, lake monsters and so forth, all of which stoke the fires of my imagination. The natural world is an amazing place and full of wonder, so I often look to it for inspiration, but I can't resist the eye-witness accounts of the out-of-place and downright monstrous that sometimes lead to the more unnatural side of things either.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I think the first time I really considered it was when I was twelve years old. I had an especially good English teacher who told me something I had written was good enough to be published. That was definitely when the first sparks were ignited!

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was very young, I used to write stories about my 'imaginary' invisible brontosaurus, who was named Dino. Those were probably my first attempts! But I do remember also writing a story about having to rescue a girl in a dreamscape, facing nightmare creatures and the likes. I watched a lot of films I shouldn't have done when I was younger and there was a bit of Hawk the Slayer in there and Dragonslayer, with magical weapons and demons and all sorts of things. Maybe I should revisit that one!

"I don't think you can be creative for more than about 90 minutes to two hours at a time [...]"

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

I try to treat my writing days like a normal working day. I do like making sure I've had a hot breakfast like porridge, and I can't start without a mug of tea, although I am being converted to real coffee slowly but surely. More tea will follow at 11am and 4pm sharp! I don't think you can be creative for more than about 90 minutes to two hours at a time, so I do try to break things up. I might change to a blog article or something else if I get stuck. I also always try to get out for a walk at lunch, to somewhere I can read or at least sit - depending on the weather of course. Later in the day, a walk to the post box or something like that to clear my head works just as well. The main thing is to realize when it just isn't working, and to then do something else until you can come back to it.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
My desk is a wild mix of practical stuff and inspiring and random objects. I have a document tray and a few magazine files. I have all the usual stuff like a hole punch, a stapler and so on - although I tend to go for very bright and interesting colors, after all, this isn't an office! I have three great big pen pots full of colored pencils, pens and novelty stationary. There's a remote control Apache helicopter behind my laptop, a skeletal model of a Smilodon cat and some Native American artwork depicting a killer whale. I have a little plaque to the side of my desk that has some of my favorite quotes on it - such as imagination is more important than knowledge from Einstein. I also have The X-Files 'I Want To Believe' poster and the Dalai Lama's 19 instructions for life. Finally, I have a collection of maps and old photos of places I've been to and want to go to. There's always something interesting wherever I look!

"Now even my back-ups have back-ups!"

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
New writing is always the easiest for me. If I'm working on something new, the excitement and concept can take over. On the other hand, going over work again and again in the editing stages is very difficult. I once lost a big chunk of work from a story I was working on and found it very difficult to re-work what I'd already written. Now even my back-ups have back-ups!

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
In a word, freedom. I can create anyone or anything I want, and be anywhere I want. The only limit is my imagination and how many words I can write a day. Its a real exploration of whatever realm you want to be in, but also ultimately of yourself.

Luke, please tell us a little about your Horror/Thriller Novel Shadow Beast.
Shadow Beast is a novel that follows the appearance of a mysterious and monstrous predator in the Highlands of Scotland. As livestock is slaughtered and pets turn up missing, Thomas Walker, a local conservationist and former big-game hunter is forced to confront his past and an animal the likes of which he never wanted to face again.
As the creature's rampage intensifies, so does the danger the human inhabitants of Glen Cannich face. When an old adversary seeks him out, Thomas has little choice but to take on both man and beast in order to survive.

Shadow Beast (Luke Phillips)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
Britain has a number of myths and legends based on big cat sightings. In the 1960's we had the Beast of Bodmin and Surrey Puma. Older legends speak of faerie cats such as the Cait Saith. As a country not meant to have any large predators left, the stories have always caught my attention and as reports still grab the headlines from time to time, it has always been something that I wanted to write about. When I started collecting eye-witness accounts and met people who really believed these things were out there, my imagination got to work.
In the end, many real life accounts and events were mentioned in the story.

"Anyone who enjoys horror, creature features and monster books especially, will like it [...]"

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
Its a story about a flesh and blood animal, made monstrous by its nature and unusual behavior. Anyone who enjoys horror, creature features and monster books especially, will like it I hope! But there's a bit of a detective thriller in there, a little bit of romance of course. Its fast paced and rather cinematic in style, so it shouldn't disappoint anyone looking for a good, albeit somewhat dark adventure.
The book is available for Kindle and as a paperback on Amazon and CreateSpace, as well as to order through most independent bookshops in the United States.

What makes your book special?
The creature is very much the star of the book, at least as much as the human characters. As somebody who trained as a zoologist, I've tried to lend my knowledge to the narrative, which gives a unique perspective, mainly that of the creature, to the story.
I also don't like things to be straight forward, so expect a few twists and turns and interesting characters along the way.

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
I'm really pleased that so many people have liked the book and given it such good ratings. I am loving hearing about people's favorite parts and how they react to bits they weren't expecting. I also get a little kick out of scaring people, so its nice to hear that its doing the trick. Interest is building and 2015 should be a really exciting year for me as a writer.

How long did it take it to write the book?
On and off, it took nearly eight years to write, although that was with a big gap somewhere in the middle and with lots of travel and research at the beginning. Most of the real work was done in the last twelve months.

"Take each stage seriously."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
The main advice I would give is to take your time, no matter what you are doing. Take each stage seriously. Do your character profiles in full and properly. Write your chapter break downs and a full synopsis. Preparation is key, so do your research and make sure you have everything you need before you start. Also don't expect to be able to write brilliantly every day or every time. Admit when things aren't going well and do something else - but try to write at least something, even if its just a few words each day.
The biggest mistake I made was rushing at the end. I was so pleased to have the end in sight that I rushed to get the story out, when it actually needed a few more read-throughs and some editing, even after it had been looked at a number of times. I've had to revise the file and format since pressing the button, which isn't fair on readers, but luckily, I caught things in time before sales had gotten very far - but I've learned my lesson for future projects. I hope!

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
My next project is a science fiction story called Dark Tides. It is set in the Oceans, and is a story about nature, and something else, challenging man's destructive dominance on the planet and especially the sea. There's also a sequel to Shadow Beast to come, so plenty to keep me busy for now!

"I love the smell and feel of a real book [...]"

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Well, record stores haven't disappeared completely and I don't think book stores will either. I personally can't walk past a bookstore, second hand or otherwise. Many of my purchases in my local Sevenoaks bookshop are made on the recommendations of the very knowledgeable owner (same with the record store by the way), and I hope that's something we never lose.
I do think the market will change though. Hopefully we won't lose the independents, who are more service orientated and adaptable in my opinion. I still buy books at full price in such stores, and I don't think I'm the only one. I love the smell and feel of a real book and often buy on impulse. I've already found that the number of paperbacks I've sold has caught up with the Kindle, so there's definitely still demand for real books out there. But I think people want different stories, and less market dictated swamping. The more established authors and publishing houses try to put profits before readers, the more they will ultimately lose. Its definitely going to be an interesting time for independents and an on-demand marketplace.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Fire HD. Its a tablet and an e-reader. I have all my music, I can stream films and most importantly, I have a huge collection of books, many only available on Kindle. I mainly read and use it on holiday, where the battery life comes into its own.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm self-employed, so I try to work three days a week with clients, and write two days, as well as at weekends. The way I look at things at the moment is that when I don't have work to fill up the days, I can do more writing. So far, its just about working out, but the goal is to eventually be able to write full time.

How can readers connect with you?
You can follow me on Twitter @SouthEastScribe or connect on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/thesoutheastscribe
Other things such as a blog and a dedicated website are in the pipeline, so stay tuned folks!

Thank you very much for the Interview, Luke.

About the Book Shadow Beast

Shadow Beast (Luke Phillips)
Click to Read an Excerpt
It is a dark moonless night in the Highlands of Scotland. A lorry slowly navigates the twists and turns of the loch-side road as rain begins to pelt against the windscreen. It is the early hours of the morning and the road is empty. The driver wipes his eyes and winds down the window to let the air and rain revive him. As he rounds a bend, he catches a glimpse of something sleek and black pulling the carcass of a deer into the undergrowth. He feels a shiver run down his spine and winds the window back up. He tells no-one.

When evidence of a remarkable predator is discovered in the Highlands of Scotland, Thomas Walker finds himself confronted with his past and a creature the likes of which he had never wanted to face again. As its devastating rampage goes unchecked and threatens his home, the woman he loves and his very way of life, an older and much more human adversary seeks him out.

How long had it surveyed Glen Cannich from the mountainside and how long would they survive its presence?

"After reading plenty of Tom Clancey, David Baldacci and other similar authors, I found this book a breath of fresh air. It has all the excitement of better known thrillers, yet introduces a completely new subject - man vs beast! The author's knowledge of wildlife shines through frequently, but doesn't detract from the fast moving storyline. A great read!" - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the eBook Shadow Beast with Excerpt on Amazon-UK

Link to the eBook Shadow Beast with Excerpt on Amazon-US

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