Author Benjamin Phillips
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We are so excited to interview emerging author Benjamin Phillips today. His writing style is unique and interesting, and we hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as we did.
Name: Benjamin W. Phillips
Genre: Adult, Young Adult, New Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Born September 4th. Raised in Minnesota. Moved to California at the age of 6, returned to Minnesota in 1998. Graduated High School in June 1999. Has been writing novels since the age of 10.
- How long have you been writing?
Since I was 10 years old.
- What kind(s) of writing do you do?
Adult, Young Adult, New Adult, Epic, Fantasy, Science Fiction so far. I’ll eventually be branching out into other genres such as Cyberpunk and Steampunk as well as the other fictional genres, too.
- Why did you choose that particular field or genre?
Because I was most familiar with Epic Fantasy writing, so I started with that. From there, I branched out into Science Fiction. Later, once I complete my Science Fiction novel, I may branch out again into Romance, Western, and others. I haven’t yet decided which direction to go.
- What inspires you?
Too many things to list! Some of them are classical musical scores, various things found within the natural world, some artwork, things people do or say during their everyday lives.
- Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing, etc. come from?
I’ve always had that since I was a small child.
- How do you find or make time to write?
Writing is the only job I have right now, so I have no problem finding time to write. It’s finding time to do other things that can be a challenge at times.
- Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
I don’t exactly have a process per se. I just let the characters and their story guide me. I am simply their Historian along for the ride through their worlds and their lives.
- How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
I took the bus. I walked. I filled out lots of paperwork. I basically did things that normal everyday people do all the time, but along the way I learned how to walk on water, why the sky is a pink fish most of the time, I learned to listen when the wind whispers and to dance in the shadows of the rain. I learned, too, how to properly store moonlight in a jar and which pouches will keep sunlight the freshest longest. I learned how to fly and frolic with the animals of the wooded glades around my home and when it’s the best time to take tea with Lenore in the local graveyard. I learned how to play with magic and how to smile at the saddest of things. I learned how to unlock people’s hearts, tears, the fires of their passions and the ice of their anger. I learned and I never stopped learning. Mostly, though, I learned that I am an Author and that is no small feat, nor is it the easiest thing going out your door, because you never really know where your feet are going to sweep you off to next.
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- What projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I am in the editing stage of an Adult Epic Fantasy series that has taken me more than a decade to record. I am also in the process of editing and getting assistance with building a cover for a Young Adult Urban Fantasy that took considerably less time to construct than the Epic I’ve been working on. And, I am writing my first Science Fiction novel as well.
- What experience do you have with the publishing world? Do you have any warnings or recommendations for those just starting out?
I have some experience and the best thing I can tell you is to always research the company you’re going to submit your work to and to make sure you have someone on your side whom is going to look out for your best interests. Research is the key to making sure you don’t get screwed over by the company you’re about to work for, because these companies are there to do one thing–make money. That’s the bottom line with them and not all of them are going to be honest with you about the ways in which they are going to make those profits. Some of them won’t care if they abuse their author teams or if they butcher the manuscripts that they get. Be careful. If the terms of the contract seem off or shady to you, then they probably are. Never, ever be afraid to just walk away from those people that offer you a publishing contract. Make certain you understand every. single. word. of that contract because that’s your baby you’re about to hand over. If the company keeps getting poor reviews from other people, or they just seem to rankle you the wrong way, don’t do business with them. Remember, writing is fun, but it is still a business and like all other forms of businesses out there, not all of the publishers are willing to treat Authors fairly.
- What is the hardest part of writing for you?
- What do you enjoy most about writing? Share your favorite work.
Building the worlds. I have included an excerpts from my Young Adult Urban Fantasy novel, Shards of the Crystal Rose, my New Adult Science Fiction novel, currently entitled Solarium Flare, and my Adult Epic Fantasy novel, currently entitled, Mirrored Sisters: Book One of the Raven’s Blood Chronicles. The titles of the Science Fiction and Adult Epic Fantasy novels are most likely going to be changed in the near future as these are just working titles for now.
Shards of the Crystal Rose, Chapter One:
“Come, come, and do’nae forget the charco’l stylus and new pencil I gave you,” Grandpa Kehr wheezed into the chill night air. His breath steamed around his wizened face in the light of the Harvest Moon. Jessie clung to her grandpa’s hand so she didn’t lose her way, her satchel bounced alongside her hip as they wandered down the vacant street. She patted the bag with her free hand, feeling the familiar stiff ridges of the spirals that bound her sketchbook and the thin lengths of the two styluses she’d brought with her.
“Grandpa,” she whispered. “Where are we going?” The shadows danced around them.
“To see the Wicklecacks, me de’r,” The old man coughed. “And we mustn’t be late!” He pulled a tattered faded hanky from his black denim trench coat and wiped the corners of his mouth. The hem of his coat flapped like a bat around his ankles.
“Wicklecacks?” Jessie whispered.
“Ay, they’re the greatest of the small and the smallest of the great, child. This way.” He guided her along the asphalt path, tapping with his long, white cane.
“But, Grandpa, Father says that Wicklecacks aren’t real,” Jessie groaned. She rolled her eyes and thought of the warm bed that she’d left an hour ago.
“Pony wings and bee feathers!” her grandfather admonished, pulling her to a halt near a crumbling brick wall. He turned toward her, his milky white eyes sparkling in the halo of a nearby streetlamp.
“’Course they’s real, girl,” he growled. He led them along the street again. From another pocket, he pulled out a silver watch on a chain. The only sound, other than the chirping of the crickets, was the ticking of the pocket watch as he held it to his ear.
“Close yer eyes!”
“Grandpa, they aren’t real—everybody knows that.” Jessie sighed then closed her eyes.
“All I see is what’s behind my eyes, Grandpa. That’s all.”
“Hah!” Grandpa Kehr grinned, flashing his yellowing teeth. “Yer ain’t lookin’ with the right pair o’ eyes, youngin’.”
“I only have one pair of eyes, Grandpa.”
“That’s a barrel o’ piggin’s and ye know it.” He waved his large hands like a startled pigeon. Folding his long arms across his chest, he leaned against the wall.
Jessie closed her eyes once more. Her grandpa grasped her arm, pulling her onward.
The glare of headlights bathed them as a car drove by. Jessie peeked out from under the shelter of her eyelids and screwed her mouth into a lopsided grin. The old man chuckled as the car moved on.
“Open yer eyes, child.” Her grandfather wheezed, coughing into his handkerchief again.
She cracked open her eyes. They stood on the cusp of a black tunnel, opening its a maw into the night.
“By the way, I’m not a child anymore, Grandpa,” she said as she poked her tongue out. “I’m fourteen!”
“And blind as a rock, now, lookie there.”
Jessie shook her head, focused on the tunnel’s entrance, and waited. She tapped her shoe against the asphalt foot path, but stopped as her grandfather elbowed her shoulder. She rolled her eyes, sticking her tongue out at him again, then returned her attention to the tunnel. Small flares of orange and red flames began to flit about near the ground, sparkling in the shadows. The little lights blazed brighter as a cloud obscured the moon. They pranced about in the aperture of the tunnel. They spilled into the night air just out of Jessie’s reach, and encircled the girl’s ankles.
“Grandpa?” Jessie whispered. Her eyes grew larger as she trailed her fingers through the glowing trace left behind in the wake of the Wicklecacks, smiling. She giggled. Several of them alighted on her fingertips, their tiny bipedal legs tickling her flesh, before flying off to join their brethren. Jessie spun in a slow circle, never taking her eyes off the fascinating creatures. She opened her mouth to shout her joy, but sucked it back as her grandfather’s face loomed over hers.
“Hush! They don’t like us Biggin’s a-talkin’ when they dance.”
As the Wicklecacks spiraled toward her nose, Jessie turned back to the tunnel.
“My God…they’re…they’re beautiful, Grandpa! They’re so tiny, sort of like fireflies, aren’t they?”
“Never call them that. They’ll be quite offended. Now go, Jess, follow where they lead ye,” her grandfather’s voice whispered near her ear.
“Aren’t you coming?” she whispered back, turning to him once more. Panic erupted in her heart, squeezing it shut. She held her hand against her chest, trying to keep the hemorrhaging beats locked away.
“This ain’t my story, Jess. Now, go!” Her grandfather shoved her in the tunnel’s direction. Jessie stumbled.
“I don’t want to leave you behind,” she whimpered, righting herself.
The little lights were slipping further away every moment.
“If ye do’nae go now, child, ye’ll never get to see where they go.”
“But… I-I love you, grandfather!” Jessie darted after the disappearing lights. She ran her fingers along the tunnel’s wall to guide her, squinting against the darkness.
Solarium Flare, Chapter One:
In orbit of Rhea, Saturn’s Fifth Moon, Sol-Terran System
United Mining Ship class space vessel—Dovefeather
Sol-Terran Date 0401.2116
A soft but pervasive beeping drew Pepper out of her dreams. Rolling over in her bunk, she groaned. “What is it, computer?”
“This is your 0500 wake up message, Lieutenant McCormick,” a woman’s computerized voice rang through her quarters.
“Mmm. Five more minutes,” she mumbled, already half asleep again.
“Spice, you awake?”
“No.” Pepper buried her head under her pillow.
“C’mon, Pepper, let’s go!” A voice poked through the protective shell of the pillow.
Pepper rolled onto her other side, glaring at the stocky outline of her bunkmate. Lieutenant Maxwell Folger pursed his lips, and glared back. Grabbing a handful of her thin blanket, he gave it a sharp tug. “Pepper, up. Now,” he admonished, jumping back as her foot shot out from underneath the warmth of the covers, kicking his hand away.
“Lemme ‘lone!” she grumped. “Five more minutes, that’s all I want.”
The soft beeping began again.
“Oh, for the love of…shaddup!” Pepper screeched, smashing her fist into the button that would turn off the alarm. A crack spider-webbed across its brilliant ruddy surface. Raucous laughter filled Pepper’s ears, stopped only with the thud of a feathery pillow to Folger’s face.
“That means you, too, asshole.” Pepper growled. She glanced out the basketball sized porthole, sighing as she took in the surface of Rhea far below them.
“Computer, state the current time,” Pepper muttered, peeling off her tank top and tossing it into a cubbyhole that Folger pulled open.
“The current time is 0517 hours.”
Dragging herself out of her bunk, she took off her boxers and threw them into the cubbyhole, too. Standing naked in the center of the cabin, she raised her arms over her head and depressed the sonic shower button on the floor, slowly turning in a circle as the waves of pulsating energy encompassed her.
“Computer, lock down shower,” Pepper mumbled when it finished. A light under her feet blinked emerald twice, indicating the lock had activated.
Folger glanced at her mottled right breast, the pockmarks of twenty-two millimeter magnum scars standing out against her flesh. “I still don’t get it, Spice,” he muttered.
“What don’t you ‘get’, Lieutenant?” Pepper asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
“You’ve been awarded the highest military honor any Marine could ever earn. Why the hell are you still out here bustin’ up rocks?”
“Not this again. You said you wouldn’t bring that up anymore, Folger. You gave your word!”
“I know, Spice, but it’s been what? Three years since—“
“Stop! Stop right there.” Pepper snapped. “You know how I feel about what happened, and no matter what you try to say, I am not a hero, goddamnit!” She closed her eyes, mouth twitching as the vibration of the Dovefeather’s star drive engines thrummed through the hull, tickling her bare soles.
“The Alliance disagrees with you. Anyway, we’ve a big day ahead of us, eh?” Folger said, smirking.
Pepper fixed him with a stony-eyed glare.
Mirrored Sisters: Book One of the Raven’s Blood Chronicles, Chapter One:
The city streets were packed with people and carts from the outlying farms and villages. Dust rose in thick clouds from the passersby and cart-peddlers selling their wares. Galaukiir Amanodel walked to and fro from cart to cart, idly inspecting various wares for sale.
City guardsmen shoved their way through the crowd to reach their destinations. Galaukuiir sidestepped a passing guard and brushed shoulders with him. “Hey! Watch where yer goin’!” the guardsman grunted roughly through a thick mustache of brown bristle. Sweat beaded on the guard’s upper lip as it curled into a sneer. “Next time, I’ll clout ye ‘cross that pretty head of yers, Elf!”
Galaukiir smiled politely and nodded as he walked away. “Too easy!” He looked down at his left hand and squeezed the purse he’d lifted from the guard, feeling the gold inside. Galaukiir pocketed the gold and searched the crowd for another playmate. Walking ahead of him some distance away was a noblewoman dressed in silk and velvet.
Brightly colored as a peacock, she wore a pointed hat with silver beads around the brim to mark her status as one of the city’s elite. Galaukiir eyed the beads. Unless he was mistaken, he saw a glint of gold amongst the silver.
So, he thought, you’re a wizard as well as one of the elite. Good. He picked up his pace and stalked his target. He meandered down the aisle of carts and peddlers at right angles to the peacock-robed woman. Slowly, the space between the two shrank. After slinking down several side streets to close the distance between them, he walked within arm’s length of the stranger. He reached out for her when he felt a pinch at his elbow.
A female Elf stood next to him, blue eyes glinting amusement in the bright sunlight. She stood just a little taller than his five feet five inches—a respectable height for Elves—and had raven-black hair instead of his golden-blond. He sighed as he watched the noble slip away further down the street. Blast! he thought.
“What are you up to now, Galaukiir?” the Elf woman asked, her voice accusing. “You aren’t stealing again, are you?” She poked him in the ribs. When he failed to answer and sighed, she poked him harder. “Well? Are you or aren’t you?”
“Oh, get a grip, Valanthe. It was just a bit of fun. I was bored!” Galaukiir gave her a sheepish grin.
Valanthe sighed and glared down her slender nose at him. “Just a bit of fun, eh? What happens when you go too far and get yourself arrested? How would your father take to that, huh? I’ll tell you! He’ll be furious! We’re here to buy supplies for the shop, not steal them. Now come on.” Valanthe grabbed his arm and dragged him back the way he’d come. “I’ve been looking for you for half the day, and you haven’t gotten a single thing done. Must I do everything myself?”
They strode down the main street and turned into a sparsely crowded lane shaded by overhanging trees. Valanthe sighed and looked back at Galaukiir. “Your father wants wood for the arrows and bows he’s got to make. We would do well to start purchasing it. I found a shop that will sell to us for a better price than those hagglers in Market Square.” Valanthe scowled, and icy fire hung on her every word.
Galaukiir trudged after her as she continued down the lane a little ways farther before stopping in front of a door with an arrow and bow painted on a hanging sign above. The small shop smelled of freshly-mowed hay and cut wood. A man stood with his back turned to them as they entered. He wiped dust from a long slender rod of wood and squinted at it.
- For those interested in exploring the subject/theme of your work, where should they start?
A library would be a good source of information. That, or doing research about the material online.
- What are some ways in which you promote your writing? Do you find that these add or detract from your writing time?
Facebook and Twitter. I honestly don’t have much use for either one beyond occasionally seeking tips for or assistance with editing.
- Who are some of your favorite authors? What impact have they had on your writing?
I don’t have any favorite authors.
- What makes your writing stand out from the crowd?
I’ll let the excerpts I’ve included in this interview speak for themselves.
- What are you currently reading?
I am currently taking a break from reading novels until I find one that catches my attention.
- What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
Honestly, I don’t much care what that future is. There will always be someone out there that will want to read the stories that authors such as myself write and, as long as those people are out there, we’ll always be here to provide those stories to them, not because we have to, but because we can.
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Thank you for allowing Our Write Side to interview you.