Monday 31 January 2011

Dancing With Myself: RON EARL PHILLIPS interviews RON EARL PHILLIPS

1. I was asked to give you an interview. What do you think about that?

Thrilled? Ecstatic? Honored? No. Actually confused. I'm not sure what this is all about. Who are you?

2. I'm the guy asking the questions. Got it?

Sure. Whatever.

3. Good. Says here you're a writer? What have you written?

Words. Sequentially. One after another. Until they form sentences, paragraphs and eventually a story.

Oh, come on, don't give me that look. You know all the answers anyway. It's all on that cheat sheet of yours.

OK, Okay.

I am a writer, but not published. Which is why I don't particularly like that question. Someone finds out you're a writer and first thing out of their mouth is 'what have you written?' That leads ultimately to rolling eyes. It's a prejudicial question I think.

If you're not published you're nothing.

4. Wait, my little magic cheat sheet tells me you are lying. You are published?

Let me see that. Oh, I thought these questions were geared towards crime writers. Yeah, I guess I've been published.

I had some poetry published in my high school's first literary journal, Reflections. Also some more poetry in a similar type journal in college. But does that really count?
Oh, and most recently, um, 7 and 5 years ago, a couple of 8 page shorts for the comic anthology Digital Webbing Presents. Klik Boom: Exterminators. It's was a quirky mob meets mad scientist meets blue jello kind of thing. I wanted to do a whole series, but being a writer, finding the right artist was a hard proposition. Someday. Right?

You're still giving me that look.

Yeah, I see. By the time this get's published I will have a couple stories published on Christopher Grant's A Twist of Noir, an online flash fiction journal. He kindly let me participate in his 600 to 700 word challenge. I did stories 641 and 672, respectively entitled "Fish Stew" and "Killing Hope."

5. So you started writing in High School? That means you've been at it ...

Let's not go there. Yeah, writing has been an on and off again affair. And I started earlier than that. Writing (and drawing) Spidey self-made comics in grade school, first short fiction in junior high, then in high school I got turned on to two things. Poetry and Programming.

In college got back into writing fiction, but turned out that writing code paid better. Especially when the Internet boomed. And then life happened. Wife, kid, house, bills and more bills and more bills.

6. Yeah, life sucks.

Not really, it is what it is. Good, bad or me. Life happens and I've been playing at this writing thing for a while. Call it a wasted youth or an education of life, I'll go with the latter. Young or old, all that matters is that the story gets told.

7. Um, yeah. Are you working on anything new that you can tell us about?

This has been a very productive year. I've probably written more since May than the last 4 or 5 years. I'm always working on something now. The problem, and this is where I'm going to get dodgy, is that once I put the words to it, publicly, I have a horrible track record on dropping the ball once I let the cat out of the bag. Sorry for the mixed metaphors. So I can't tell you what, but my goal is to continue writing and being productive.

8. Is there anything related to writing you will tell us?

Anything? Well what got me writing again (regularly) is the great support from the crime writing community. Before last April I was completely unaware of sites like A Twist of Noir, Plots with Guns or Beat to a Pulp, and many many more. Through social media one writer friend led to another and another. I put some stories out there for challenges and contests, and the response was positive, encouraging even. I found this motivating.

A particularly motivating site was Friday Flash Fiction which was hosted by Cormac Brown. Unfortunately Cormac could no longer maintain the site, so writer friend, Chad Rohrbacher, and I started up Flash Fiction Friday to continue on the fantastic service that Cormac provided. The gist behind it is that weekly, on Friday, a new story prompt is posted and participants have about 5 days to write a story based on the prompt.

It's a great exercise for any level of writer, and participation isn't mandatory. Participating once doesn't obligate your soul. If nothing more, it provides some fun and sometimes creative reading.

9. That does sound useful. As a writer who/what motivates you?

Ultimately, as a writer I have to motivate myself. That can be a chore when there are so many distractions.

Family obviously motivates me. My wife actually gets upset when I'm not writing.

Other writers motivate me. Especially the ones in the trenches now. And in crime fiction the trenches are deep with talent. You have to admire that, and even desire to be part of that. As a writer. As a reader they fill my head with entertainment.

10. So who are you reading now?

Quite a bit. If I learned anything, or at least agreed on, with Stephen King is that a writer has to be a reader. It's your first course in the education of writing. Without that foundation you can't write consumable fiction. So I try to read as much as I can.

This last year I've been on a bit of a crime spree, so here's a list of new and old writers I read and recommend.

Duane Swierzynski has written a few good books over the last few years and they just keep getting better. EXPIRATION DATE was a nice cross genre book.

Charlie Huston really knocked me out with THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH.

Don Winslow writes some gripping stuff, SAVAGES was the last one I read of his.

More widely known, I've yet to be let down by Dennis Lehane and Marcus Sakey. I want to pick up their books they day they publish.

I've got a couple books by A Neil Smith, YELLOW MEDICINE and HOGDOGGIN' that I have pretty high on the reading list.

Also there on top is Hilary Davidson's THE DAMAGE DONE.

So many books, so many good authors. Like I said, the trenches are deep with talent.

All good recommendations. Thanks for the time.

When not interviewing himself, you can find Ron Earl Phillips on his website, mucking around on Facebook and Twitter. And he invites you to join in weekly (or whenever) at Flash Fiction Friday.


  1. Some great reading choices there!

  2. I think we writers in the trenches have our hands full of so many projects ~ I hear 'ya ~ and distractions can be tough on the writing schedule.

    If I can get a handle on my work & distractions (those two teens who live in my house and require food & clean clothes now & then), I'd love to visit Flash Fiction Friday. Keep up the good work, Ron!

    Thanks for having Ron visit today, Nigel.

    I agree with Paul, terrific reading choices!

  3. The online crime fic community is amazing, I have to agree. This Nigel Bird guy, for example having writers interviewing themselves. Talk about yer symbiotic relationships!

  4. Enjoyed that, Ron. Great to read about you. I'll be popping over to F3 soon!!

    Great series, Nigel!

  5. Nigel, thanks for having me. And thank you guys for the kind comments. It's a fun series and at first I was a little reticent. But Nigel's a charmer.

  6. NIce and quirky Ron. See you over at ATON

  7. Ron, your interview makes me want to check out your fiction because it's condensed, well edited, and has a visual component. Keep at it like this, dude.