Author Interview with C.T. Phipps

Charles PhippsC.T. Phipps is the author of the Supervillainy Saga, the Bright Falls Mysteries, the Cthulhu Armageddon series, the Agent G series and the Lucifer’ Star series as well as Wraith Knight and a few other books. Besides of being a writer, he also loves all geeky stuff 🙂 Also, he is one of the nicest people I got to know during my short blogging career.

Read my review of I Was a Teenage Weredeer.

I’m sure a lot of people knows you already, but please, introduce yourself!

My name is C.T. Phipps and I’m an author of myriad science fiction, fantasy, and superhero books. I live in Ashland, Ky which is a wonderful town if you want to write about decaying industrial centers in the middle of creepy woods with serious crime problems. Err, perhaps too much information. I have four dogs and am married to my best fan.

Sounds lovely. When can I visit? But, back to business… What inspired you to be an author? Who was your favorite author as a child?

I was inspired to write pretty much from the moment I knew people could make their own stories rather than just watch them. The first novel I ever read as a child was The Hobbit and I eventually became an enormous fan of Star Wars‘ Expanded Universe, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Star Trek fiction. This was followed by graduating to grimdark in the 21st century. Today, I am a big fan of indie fantasy authors and dark fantasy mavericks like Rob J. Hayes, M.L. Spencer, Matthew Davenport, Ulff Lehmann, and David Niall Wilson.

Ooh, you’ve got some good names there. I can definitely second them. You’ve quite a few books out with a pretty wild selection of genres from horror through comics to epic and urban fantasy. Do you have a favorite? Are you doing anything else beside writing?

I’ve described myself as a “mood writer” to my wife. Basically, when I’m in the mood to write books in a galaxy far far away then I crank out a Lucifer’s Star book. When I’m inclined to do something quirky and funny I write Jane Doe (Bright Falls Mysteries) or Gary Karkofsky (Supervillainy Saga). I can’t really control what path inspiration strikes but it’s really a collection of all my favorite genres piled together. If I have a favorite I’d probably say Lucifer’s Star is my “best” work but Jane and Gary are my funniest. In addition to writing, I’m also a semi-professional fantasy and sci-fi reviewer.

You are not one to sit still, huh? Your first success was brought by the Supervillainy Saga. How that series came to life? Do you have a favorite character?

Actually, it’s a funny story but I was writing Cthulhu Armageddon first and doing my best to make it the big enormous epic that would propel me to stardom. I think I rewrote it like six times and my mind was utterly fried by the end of it. So, instead, I decided to write something which was pure brain candy. A humorous novel of no consequence that would just be fun. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be my most popular book by far.

As for my favorite character from that series, I’d probably have to say Cindy Wachowski a.k.a Red Riding Hood. Gary’s old girlfriend and favorite henchwench is a character who goes through her own arc throughout the books. She decides to become slightly less selfish and more heroic because of the influence of her gang but remains firmly an antiheroine.

Red Riding Hood as antiheroine? You’ve got me there. Yeah, sometimes you just have to let go what you’ve been working on and have a break with something else. I think people sensed you had fun with that book and so it had become a success.

Since you’ve mentioned Cthulhu Armageddon. We’ve talked with David Hambling about Lovecraft and his influence on SF/horror. What made you interested in his books? Furthermore, why did you decide to write in his universe?

H.P. Lovecraft was an author in the 1920s who was a contemporary and pen pal of Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian), Robert Bloch (Psycho), and Clark Ashton Smith (Weird Tales). He created the monster known as Cthulhu, a kilometer-tall squid-faced dragon, as part of his style of horror. HPL believed the scariest stuff is not the familiar like the vampire or the werewolf but the utterly alien and inexplicable. His creatures came from outer space, the primeval past, or other dimensions. H.P. Lovecraft was also an early believer in what would be called “open source” intellectual property as he freely let his friends use his creations and never copyrighted them. Both David Hambling and I as well as our friend Matthew Davenport are some of the later fans of his work who have taken advantage of this to write in HPL’s universe.

David and I approach our pastiches of the Cthulhu Mythos from different angles. David prefers to focus on the human element and the intrusion of the weird into mundane life (albeit mundane life in the post-WW1 era of London). I prefer to focus on a world totally upended by the mythos with Cthulhu having destroyed the world. He’s more Sherlock Holmes and I’m more The Walking Dead. The two of us are currently collaborating on an anthology called “Tales of the Al-Azif” which follows a book of spells for over a century of mayhem.

So that’s what he was hinting at! Looking forward to read that! You’ve said a few times that Jane from the Bright Falls Mysteries is your favorite character to write. What makes her so adorable to you? Who was the inspiration behind her character?

Jane is the most real character of my creations because she was created based around my wife and the girls I knew in high school. Jane also draws inspiration from Kristen Bell’s Veronica Mars, Max Caulfield from Life is Strange, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s a character meant to represent the awkward, motor mouthed, and somewhat way too geeky people out there who have the potential to do something great with their lives. Her car, the Millennium Falcon, is based around the old junker which my wife used to drive around when we first dated.

Why weredeers? Aside from the deer puns – there are surprisingly lot of them. They are not animals you would usually want to turn into. Or you would see as threatening.

That’s actually the joke or at least the idea behind it. Werewolves are inherently a majestic and terrifying supernatural creatures—which is also way overdone. When I created the weredeer, I was thinking, what is the least threatening but still plausible supernatural shapeshifter which a person might turn into. Anne Boleyn had some poetry about shifting into a deer written about her and there are also numerous stag-themed supernatural creatures. I liked the idea about Jane turning into something non-predatory then pointing out a deer is still hella fast and strong.

We have some myths about stags. According to the most known legend, a stag led two brothers (Hunor and Magor) to find a new home and two princesses as wives. They had become the forefathers of Huns and Hungarians (Magyarok). However, Bright Falls Mysteries has more recent pop cultural references. How do you come up with these? I reckon you watch a lot of these movies/series, etc.

Jane Doe and I share about 80% of our pop culture knowledge. She, however, have a much larger love of Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, and other musicians. Mind you, what Jane loves about pop culture is not necessarily what I love. I think pop culture is a shared language of ideas and can serve as a way of communicating with readers in a manner that they instantly understand. After all, you are what you eat and that includes consuming media.

Fortunately Jane can grow out her taste in music… Anyway, interesting what you say about pop culture being a shared language. Didn’t think about it this way, but actually makes sense.

You are working with Michael Suttkus on this series. Does having a writing partner makes the process any easier? How do you solve disagreements? If you have any while working together.

Michael has been my friend for twenty years and we often collaborate on storytelling projects, including tabletop RPGs (Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade, Starcraft the RPG). Sometimes we have disagreements but generally we usually are very open to each other’s ideas of where to go.

What are you working on now? What can we except from you in the near future?

Readers should expect the second volume of Wraith Knight, Wraith Lord, and the fifth installment of the Supervillainy Saga, The Tournament of Supervillainy soon. I’m currently working on the third of the Lucifer’s Star series, Lucifer’s World and the third Bright Falls Mystery, Camp Deerwood.

Thanks for taking the time and answering my questions! Give my best wishes to Jane and tell her to listen to some more rock and roll. She might like it.

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