November 23, 2011

Unread Interview - Dale Philips

Please welcome Dale Phillips for this week's Unread Interview! Dale is promoting hislatest book, A Memory of Grief!
Unread Interview is a series where I feature authors whose books I couldn't accept for review because of time or logistics issues.
From AmazonTroubled ex-con Zack Taylor is haunted by the accidental death of his brother years before. Zack's guilt and anger have pushed him into a shadowy, wandering life, with little purpose and few attachments. When he hears of the death of his close friend Ben Sterling, a supposed gunshot suicide, Zack finds he now has a purpose-- to find out what happened. Then his purpose becomes an obsession. Zack goes to Maine, where Ben died, and is a fish out of water, with no connections, no information, and no credibility. People don't want to talk about Ben's death, so Zack gets ever more frustrated, making enemies, getting into fights, and breaking the law in his search for the truth. The only bright spot seems the potential for a relationship with a sympathetic nurse-- if he can control his violent streak. To draw out the killers, Zack offers himself as bait. But without a gun, he must rely on his wits and his physical skills to survive a dangerous game of drugs and death. Though managing a measure of justice, Zack is changed in the process, and must learn to live in a very different world.
A Memory of Grief is also available in Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Tell us a bit about your book (s).

I wanted to set "A Memory of Grief" in the beautiful U.S. state of Maine, a corner of the country that's different from the rest. This is the first book of a new series, which I wanted for the recurring characters and the popularity of mysteries in general, and because I like to read the same type of work. My protagonist is a haunted man, who has to learn to deal with his guilt and anger from his past. He's a man of action who's also a serious thinker, who builds a life in a strange place after he is changed by events. The theme for each book of the series is echoed in the title, taken from great works of our cultural heritage, so there's more going on than just a straight action tale. I'd like my readers to come away with more than just an entertaining read.
Have you ever wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing "seriously"?
Yes, even when young I liked to tell stories, but it took a long while to get good at writing. I was lucky enough to train with the writer Stephen King in college, who is a superb teacher. We had to write quite a bit in his classes, so that was the start of the serious writing. It took years to complete a good first novel, and now they get written a bit faster than that. Now I can't imagine being anything other than a writer.

Do you read much? What kind of books do you usually read?
Oh, yes, I'm an omnivorous reader (I call myself an "infomaniac"), in many different genres, and read lots of non-fiction as well, including books about writing itself-- I'm always working to get better. If you go to my website, I comment on a number of writers and their books that should be read. I'm also on Goodreads, so one can find out my taste there.

What are your favorite or least favorite scenes to write?
Least favorite scenes are bridge scenes, where someone has to do mundane things and where not much is happening, and descriptions. I try to remember Elmore Leonard, who said to leave out the boring parts that people skip. My favorite scenes are action scenes, because they play like movies, and dialogue scenes, where people reveal themselves through what they say.

Do you relate more to any of your characters? Why?
Mostly to Zack, my protagonist, a man troubled by his past. He's seen the worst of the world and yet remains a good person who seeks the truth, and I relate to that. He also works to control his anger and inner demons. That's something a lot of us can certainly relate to.

Which genre do you feel it would be a challenge to write?
Children's literature, because you have to think like a child. Although some day I hope to try it, because I have a few ideas inspired by my own children.

What inspires you? And how's your writing environment - music, place, etc.?
Ah, life inspires me, the meaning of it all, and how we tell tales to establish rules and our place in the world. Stories are still important to us, and I want to tell important stories. My writing place is a desk with a computer in a bedroom, with inspirational messages around. I like it quiet during the writing, music afterward.

What would you say about the book - your words, no blurbs! - to convince someone to read your book?
The book combines the best of Travis McGee with Spenser, for those who like that action genre. For those who like it deeper, it's the Hero's Journey, and the Hero is changed by it, as he seeks for a way to live with immense, life-destroying grief and guilt.

What are your plans for the future, writing-wise? New books, sequels, publishing deals, etc.
A number of books in this Zack Taylor series, this Summer I'd like to put out my first book of previously-published short stories, then a pair of horror novels, and a few standalone mainstream novels. After that I've got two more mystery series planned, and more story collections. I'd like to make enough from writing fiction to do it full time-- I've got a lot of stories to get out. Luckily for me, the game has changed, and I can now publish works much quicker than under the old traditional system of a similar book a year. 

Thank you, Dale, for your time and, by the way, I loved the term "infomaniac". I believe we all are, in some level, infomaniacs.