Saturday, February 27, 2016

Interview with Chris Philbrook

Today we're meeting author Chris Philbrook, a prolific and hard-working writer.
Just take a look at how serious the guy is!

Chris has an immensely popular series with a number of books, Adrian's Undead Diary.
But check out this trilogy- a dark fantasy/steampunk trilogy that just went up for audiobook pre-order on (click here for Chris' audiobooks page)

What's that? You don't want to wait? Can't blame you- this guy's writing will suck you right in.
So get Book 1 on Kindle for free right now with Kindle Unlimited. How's that?
(Link to all his books on Amazon)
Okay, so let's meet this madman.


Q: So how did this series come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A: I got my start writing working as a game developer. Small stuff at first, then it turned into a regular contributing role to the settings I worked on. I developed the Elmoryn world as a RPG setting but I left the company before doing anything with it. With the success of my Adrian's Undead Diary series I decided to take the massive world I'd written for Elmoryn, and turn it into a trilogy of books.

Q: Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A: One of the first plots I wanted new players to experience was what became the story of the twins in the novels. I needed a lengthy storyline to introduce characters to the world and extrapolated into novels, it became the way I introduced readers to it. It started a lot smaller than it turned out though. Books have a tendency to write themselves if you give them enough attention.

Q: What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A: Faith and family are central. A second huge theme is the cost of technology. What prices are we paying as a civilization to enjoy the whizgigs we're inventing? The world of Elmoryn as well examines the thoughts of what death means too. The world of Elmoryn is fundamentally broken as it pertains to death; people don't go on to the afterlife. Instead they become enraged undead bent on destroying everything alive around them, unless they're blessed by a priest, or an Apostle before reanimating. If they're blessed, they instead becomes ghosts, and roam the world forever in their undead state.

Q: Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A: Which idea? Man I just rattled off so many… Family and the concept of what family is. In the books the twins think that the only family they could have is the one they are born into, but they learn quickly that friends can be family too, and family is something that can be added to. Our lives are not set in stone, they are nebulous and ever-changing.

Q: What makes a good book or engaging story?

A: Great characters. Good dialogue by those characters. Pretty simple in my world.

Q: Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A: I've always loved Stephen King, or at least eras of his writing. I grew up on It, The Stand, Firestarter, Carrie and the books of that time from him. I also loved the original fantasy novels put out to support the Dungeons and Dragons settings. Being able to play in the world with the characters I read about in the books was intoxicating to me.
I think there are many writers who cover the same themes I do. I think Brandon Sanderson does a wonderful job in his Mistborn series, and George R.R. Martin has a lot of focus on family in his writing, though the lens he uses shifts dramatically… if you know what I mean.

Q: Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A: I want to entertain. I think any story needs to be able to hold the reader's interest and entertain them all at the same time. A good writer can trick a reader into an epiphany because they hid it inside an entertaining story. I'd like to think I've made people think and feel with my writing, but that's not up to me…

Q: Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A: Be a good father. I have my first baby on the way (daughter Willow, due in April) and I want so badly to be a good father to her. Everything else seems secondary at the moment. I do want to keep writing as it's the career I've always wanted. If I could squeeze in a vacation to someplace warm during the winter every so often as well… I'm nailing life.

Q: Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A: Little bit of both, really. My first drafts are brutally planned. I sketch out so much that by the time I get to writing, I've already worked out most of the issues that'll come up. When I write, I don't worry about perfect copy, I just focus on getting the words out. In my editing passes I clean up the grammar, and add prose where it's dry. I've had some novels that I wanted to set on fire when they went off to publishing, and others I had to send off, despite wanting to do more. At some point, you just gotta accept the work is done-enough-and you have to move on to the next idea that's about to consume you.

Q: Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A: I have beta readers, and I've worked with three different editors. Mostly I use them by project type, so they're familiar with my worlds and characters. Consistency is key I find with editing.

Q: If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A: Tell them what I know, and what I don't. Tell them how lucky I've been, and that if they work hard… they can be just as lucky. You can write a book, and you can publish it, but that's just half the job, if you want that job.

Q: Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A: Well, The Kinless Trilogy is heading to audiobook and CD published by, so that's exciting. It's a whole new audience to reach, and hopefully entertain. I'd love to see a film or comic book too, but those mediums require skill sets I don't have, or money I don't have. We will see what the future brings. Right now I’m just happy that people will be able to listen to the world of Elmoryn.

Q: What's the next step in your writing world?

A: Finish up Colony Lost, my new science fiction project. That's beyond exciting for me because writing scifi has been a dream of mine, and it's about to become a reality.  After that, I'm heading back to zombie land with another post-apocalyptic novel.

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A: I once harassed Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees in a hotel elevator because he was taking too damn long to push the button.

Q: Any other information you'd like to impart?

A: Other than my little baby on the way, and all the other writing projects I have up in the air, I'd just like to tell folks thank you for listening, thank you giving my writing a chance, and thank you for chasing stories, just like I do. Thanks so much, Dale!


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For audiobooks:

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