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Charles Phipps – Interview

C. T. PhippsIf you are wont to spend time in the Fantasy-Faction Facebook Group there is no doubt you have met or at least seen Charles Phipps. But for those of you who don’t, let me introduce you. C. T. Phipps is a prolific author of SFF. From fantasy to sci-fi to horror, he has done, and is doing, it all. His current series include, Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, The Red Room, Lucifer’s Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga. And today, he has made time in his schedule to talk to us a bit about his work.

So without further ado, let us begin!

When did you know you wanted to write full time? Describe the journey to published author?

I always wanted to be a writer as long as I could remember. I remember writing my first (painfully awful) novels when I was seven or eight years old. The practice makes perfect process to becoming an author was decades in the making. I didn’t actually become an author until after college and working with a number of established authors at Permuted Press.

Lucifer’s Star (cover)

You’ve written about 70,000 novels. As a music guy I refer to you as the Robert Pollard of fantasy/sci-fi. What’s the secret to your prolificacy?

It’s actually more like twelve novels with a few more on the way. Part of this is due to the switch from traditional publishing to independent publishing. When you’re a traditional published author, you can spend one to two years being accepted let alone published. In my case, I kept writing the entire time but switching to smaller presses allowed me to release all my work at once. As Stephen King showed at his height, the delay in publication of work is largely illusionary. I admit, I also benefit from working on shorter more “fun” novels than big doorstoppers.

I also follow my inspiration as it hits me and due to being a full time author, I have more writing time than many indie authors.

Your Supervillainy series has become very popular. Can you set the stage a bit for new potential readers about Gary Karkovsky and his world?

The Rules of Supervillainy (cover)The Supervillainy Saga is basically brain candy that I made, fully expecting it to sell nothing but which I couldn’t get out of my head. While I was writing my big epic stories like Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer’s Star, and Wraith Knight–I just wanted to do something silly and fun. If I were to compare it to movies then I’d say somewhere between The Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok for silly.

It follows the adventures of Gary Karkofsky (aka Merciless: The Supervillain without MercyTM). One day, seemingly by accident, he acquires a magical cloak that gives him powers roughly equivalent to a ghost. He can turn intangible, shoot fire, conjure ice, and see the dead. He immediately attempts to use it to become a supervillain. Unfortunately, his wife is less than pleased by this choice of action and neither is the ghost of the superhero in his magical cloak.

Over the course of the next few books he ends up facing analogs to Lex Luthor, Cthulhu, himself, and Handsome Jack by way of Kang the Conqueror.

Wraith Knight was one of my favorite fantasy books I read this year and I’d highly recommend it to both epic and dark fantasy readers. It’s also very unique and often bizarre. Tell us the gist of the book and what you set out to achieve with the story?

Wraith Knight (cover)I’m a fan of what George R.R. Martin did to the fantasy genre and how many deconstructions of traditional tropes he did but he’s a bit on the low fantasy side. I wanted to see if it was possible to do a high fantasy setting of dragons, epic magic, feuding races, and ancient gods while also keeping the kind of moral ambiguity as well as plotting. To that end, I wrote Wraith Knight as a somewhat Watchmen-esque view of your typical Tolkien-inspired universe.

The Dark Lord is dead and the heroes have prevailed–what happens now? Do they attempt to exterminate all the “evil” races who were slaves to the evil wizard? What happens to the undead servants who have now regained their free will? What if one of the Ring Wraiths was a flawed Boromir-esque hero in life? What is to keep the heroes’ nations from going back to dwarves versus elves and humans versus both?

So far, people have really enjoyed the book.

Who were some of your biggest writing influences?

It’s tough to name any particular one. I was influenced by everyone I’ve ever read, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d probably say I owe a debt of gratitude to Tolkien, Martin, Pratchett, Michael A. Stackpole, and Timothy Zahn. The latter two are because I was a huge Star Wars Expanded Universe fan growing up and I read literally hundreds of their works. Fantasy wise, Ed Greenwood, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Elaine Cunningham, and R. A. Salvatore were also my jam.

Your Teenage Weredeer series is actually co-written with Michael Sutkuss, and also hilarious. Where did the concept come from and how do the two of you collaborate on the writing process?

I Was a Teenage Weredeer (cover)I Was a Teenage Weredeer is basically the inverse of my Supervillainy Saga except for vampires and werewolves instead of superheroes. I used to game the old World of Darkness religiously and love things like the Dresden Files and Mercy Thompson. The adventures of Jane Doe are about an 18-year-old woman cursed with the least threatening but still plausible shifter form possible. She’s also a psychic and investigator, though, which allows her to deal with her town’s dark history. Sort of Twin Peaks meets Veronica Mars meets Buffy.

As for how we collaborate, basically Michael is an idea man and I help put them to page.

Can you recommend a few recent fantasy books for us?

On superhero fiction I’d recommend Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer, Wearing the Cape by Marion G. Harmon, Villains Rule by Michael Gibson, and Blackjack: Villain by Ben Bequer. On fantasy, I’d say people should check out A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden, Godblind by Anna Stephens, Rhenwars by M. L. Spencer, and Rob J. Hayes’ The Ties That Bind.

When you’re not writing, what takes up most of your time these days?

Cthulhu Armageddon (cover)Writing is something you have to use every bit of your spare time for, whether it’s seeking inspiration or advertising your work. Becoming a writer is a vocation that you need to keep hammering on if you ever hope to succeed at it. One of the early mistakes many authors make is they assume the publication of their first book is getting over the hump. In fact, it’s just the beginning of a much longer journey.

What’s next for you in 2018 and beyond?

I’ll be releasing more books in my existing series of the Supervillainy Saga, The United States of Monsters, Agent G, Wraith Knight, and Lucifer’s Nebula. I also will be working on a sequel trilogy to Wraith Knight called Steampunk Fantastica that follows the world introduced there after it casts off its medievalism and becomes a 19th Century parallel with elves in top hats.

We would like to thank Charles again for stopping by and talking with us! To learn more about his many series you can check out his website or follow him on Twitter @Willowhugger.

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