Interview with Mark Phillips

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Tough question right off the bat. I guess I would have to say:
1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
3. The Dark Tower VII by Stephen King
4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

All of these books contain tragedies on a large scale. Yet, each of these books contain a message of hope. They show us the darker side of the world (a world that is so often cruel to so many people) and yet they exemplify the better part of human nature. A willingness to sacrifice to make the world a better place.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read across all genres. It's mostly fiction, although there are some non-fiction books (mostly history and physics) that I do enjoy. Stephen King is still my favorite author and I read everything he publishes. I enjoy thrillers, sci-fi, horror, literary. Pretty much anything that has a good story.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle. I haven't sampled any other device so I can't say if one is better than the other, but Kindle is what we have in the house and that's what I use.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Being feature by Bookbub did wonders for my writing career. I cannot say enough about the effectiveness of their marketing. Other than that, I use links at the back of all my books, which seems to work well. I also use social media and friends to spread the word. In the end, however, nothing will ever replace word-of-mouth as a marketing tool.
Describe your desk
It's a medium-sized desk with dark wood and several drawers. It has enough room for the computer and my little bottle of soda that I drink while I work. There's a stereo system hooked up to the computer and I use that to blast music while I write.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town called, Clawson, in Michigan. Growing up in Michigan influenced my writing in a lot of the imagery that I use. We're a flat state, there aren't any mountains here, but it is a beautiful state. We have a lot of trees, a lot of grassy fields and a lot of water. We're in outdoor state in the spring and summer: lots of boating and swimming and walking trails. And we're an indoor state in the winter: movies, casinos, restaurants, the theater. It's a great place to live.
Growing up in a small town influenced my writing in my perception of people. Clawson is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else (and usually know their dirty laundry). There are very few secrets in a small town and the ones that do exist are buried deep.
When did you first start writing?
I was around eleven-years-old when I first started writing stories. I would pen them in a notebook that I carried around with me. My Mother bought me an electric typewriter for Christmas and I also had an old Royal typewriter that I bought at a yard sale. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen and that's when I began to seriously consider a career as a writer.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Re-Test is my most recent release and it's the story of a man who takes a college classroom hostage. I had the idea because I thought it would be fun to write a book in a closed setting with only a handful of characters. I also though it would be interesting to see if the New American Boogieman (a lone man with a gun in a school) could ever be a sympathetic character. How well I did is for you to judge.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to see if I was good or not. I had been struggling for many years, publishing short stories here and there, but I could never break through to one of the "big" publishing houses. Rejection slip after rejection slip piled up on my computer and I wondered why. I had several theories: my subject matter wasn't "hot" at the moment, my ability to write query letters was bad, my writing wasn't good enough. My biggest fear was that the final theory was the real reason. I simply wasn't a good enough writer to be published.
When I discovered indie publishing, I decided to take a chance and let the people decide if I was any good. I'm pleased to report that based on the reviews and the sales numbers I think I do have some ability.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has allowed me access to places that I couldn't get to on my own. It has provided me with a broad venue to showcase my work and appeal to a broader audience.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There are two. Maybe that's a cheat, but writing really is a double-edged sword and I don't think I could choose just one.
Writing is, first, solitary work and, second, public work. The act of writing is a lonely one. It is just you, working everyday to create another world. When you finish writing and publish the book, it becomes public. Your book is just for you while you're writing it and it becomes community property when you publish it.

My greatest joy while I'm writing is just putting the words down everyday. When the work is good it flows through you and feels amazing.
When the book is published, my greatest joy is the interaction with the fans. To hear what they thought of all your hard work.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are the reason for what I do. If no one read my books I would still write, I don't know how to do anything else, but it wouldn't be the same.
An artistic endeavor is meant to be shared and writing is no different. The final product of all your work is a desire to share it with others. It is a special relationship that is formed between a writer and a reader. It is a meeting of the minds.
My fans mean everything to me. Without them, there would be no books.
What are you working on next?
My next release is a collection of short stories that will be available for pre-order soon. It's called, Typewriter Blood, and it's slated for release on August 14th.
This is the first time that I am using the pre-order service provided by Smashwords and I am excited to see the results.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King
John Steinbeck
Charles Dickens
Ernest Hemingway
William Faulkner
Ray Bradbury
Kurt Vonnegut
Elmore Leonard
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My wife and my children. They are number one on my list of priorities. Though, when I'm working on a new book, the excitement of returning to my desk is a close second.
Published 2014-06-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

No Credit in Heaven
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 80,820. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical
John Ballard is dead. That's bad enough, but what's worse is that he neglected to bring any of his possessions with him into the afterlife. It turns out the Egyptians were right and you need to take your stuff with you. John is forced to live like a bum in Heaven until he discovers a way he might be able to return to Earth to get the things that he needs to live an afterlife of comfort.
The Space Between
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 88,220. Language: English. Published: April 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Biographical
Jack Carver's first memory is as a four-year-old boy in 1937. That was when he saw his father die. Because of his early trials in life, Jack grows up to be a jaded and bitter man. Throughout the course of his life Jack ruins relationships, struggles with substance abuse, loses his children, breaks promises and, finally, finds salvation.
Before the Mask
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 74,390. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Before Bentley Grimes was a vicious killer, he was just a normal high school student. Well...not exactly normal. When a new student named Monica meets Bentley she is instantly drawn to him. Does Bentley feel the same way? What could this mean for his murderous plans? Can anyone survive what he wishes to become?
Two Worlds
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,260. Language: English. Published: September 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Bill Conners is suffering from the new American dream. His job has been shipped overseas and he finds himself overqualified for the menial, minimum-wage jobs that are available. Davis Jefferson is part of the one-percent. Rich, successful and the man who put Bill out of job. When both men fall gravely ill, Davis makes Bill an unbelievable proposition and Bill has a difficult decision.
A Way Back to Life
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 90,720. Language: English. Published: September 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays, Fiction » Historical » USA
After the death of his wife, Edwin Goodeve withdraws from life. Facebook and the internet fill his day until he realizes that he knows more about his Facebook "friends" than he does his own neighbors. Pressured by his editor, Edwin decides to write about five neighbors and learn about their lives. As he does, he begins to reconnect to humanity and find his own way back to life.
Typewriter Blood
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 40,410. Language: English. Published: August 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Horror » Ghost
A mysterious Bloodwell, a haunted computer program, a strange Feast and a mind-bending Paradox. All these stories and more are contained within. Let Mark Phillips take you down the roads not traveled and show you the shapes beneath the sheets.
Re-Test
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 62,080. Language: English. Published: June 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(5.00 from 1 review)
A peaceful afternoon is shattered when a gunman takes over a college classroom. The students are terrified and the police lock down the campus. Captain Taylor wants to know the gunman's demands. He doesn't have any, but he does offer a wild tale to explain his actions. Is he insane, or is he telling the truth?
Beneath the Mask of Sanity
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,140. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Told from the point of view of sadistic murderer, Bentley Grimes, Beneath the Mask of Sanity is an intense psychological thriller about a serial killer's quest to understand himself.
Beyond the Mask
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,750. Language: English. Published: May 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Bentley Grimes is once again a free man and the killings have begun again. Sheriff Frank Miles knows that Bentley can't be guilty, however, they were together during the first murder. But can Frank really partner with Bentley to catch the killer?