Interview with Phil Hipside

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I renovate houses, make furniture and shout at the radio a lot. I don't have a TV anymore.. I threw it out when shouting at it didn't seem to make any constructive difference. I've also got kids.. which doesn't leave much time for much else. Shouting at them doesn't make any constructive difference either.. but apparently it's illegal the throw them out. Go figure.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mainly through recommendations or from just browsing. I've got a few favourite authors, but sometimes I like to pick up something completely new. I end up kissing a lot of literary frogs to get to a Prince that way, but sometimes it's extremely rewarding. There's no greater inspiration for a writer then reading a brilliant book.

I still browse book stores and tend to favour paper books, because I read a lot in the bath. Why don't they invent a waterproof e-reader?!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Maybe not the first but a few stick out in my mind from my school days. The highlight was having a poem published when I was 7 years old, 'The Shark and the Octopus.' I peaked early in my literary career and haven't been able to live up to those dizzying heights since.
What is your writing process?
That's a bit like asking an avalanche what it's game plan is. I don't have a process, I just let gravity take hold and hope to God I'm still in one piece at the bottom, when it's all over.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
'White Fang' and 'Danny, the Champion of the World.' Kids books are fantastic. You go on the most amazing adventures from the comfort of your own bed and experience life in it's glorious technicolour without any real life experience of your own. A kind of, try before you buy. There's no greater gift to a kid than a great book.
How do you approach cover design?
I have a design background so enjoy messing around with images and text. I approach cover design much like writing, and wait for inspiration before sitting down in front of the computer or notebook. I've never had a problem with creative block - inspiration is all around, sometimes it becomes overwhelming. If I do have slack days though, I go for a run and that usually gets the grey matter working.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Ask me on two separate days and the answers will be entirely different. I love everything by Chuck Palahnuik (Fight Club, Survivor, Rant, Invisible Monsters, Choke, Pygmy etc) and most things by Irvine Welsh (Filth, Trainspotting etc). I went through a love affair with Iian Banks novels when I was younger but also find one off gems from unknown authors too. James Frey is great and I also like classics such as 'Bonfire of the Vanities' by Tom Wolfe and even though I'm not a big fan of his writing style, I like the subject matter in Cory Doctorow's books. Ok, todays top five would be:

Survivor - Chuck Palahnuik
Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
The Wasp factory - Iian Banks
Kill Your Friends - John Niven
Apathy and Other Small Victories - Paul Neilan

..but ask me tomorrow and that will probably all change
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I've only ever used an iPad, but would love to give others a try. I have to admit though, I'm still a sucker for second hand book stores.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Telling my mates at the pub to buy my book in exchange for a pint.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I have a northern, working class background and it's difficult to shake off the cultural baggage that comes with it. However I moved around a lot as a kid and always felt that gave me an outsider's perspective and room to reflect. Even in my adult life I've never settled - either geographically or socially and have changed careers several times. My characters are always uncomfortable in their environment and don't feel like they fit in or truly belong; always looking for something 'other'. Feeling marginalised and constantly being uprooted can be a fantastic inspirational gift to a writer.. if it's harnessed right.
When did you first start writing?
I found a box of my old school books and diaries a few weeks ago. It appears I've always written in some form or another.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I actually wrote, 'Kill All Men,' as an antidote to another book I was writing at the time and it just took on a life of it's own. (I'm still writing the other book!) I even had a reputable literary agent for a while who touted it around the high end publishers. The verdict? 'Carl is too sexist.' So they wouldn't publish it. Which is ironic because the book is a satyrical take on a Carl's sexist struggle against institutionalised feminism - Life imitating art I guess!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Frustration with the traditional route I guess. I did have a reputable literary agent for a while, but was horrified at the stranglehold agents and polishers have over the literary world. Also theres a huge time lag between an author writing a book and getting it to reader in the traditional model. Indie authors are the future, there's no doubt in my mind.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has certainly smoothed the path to publishing. It's not all milk and honey, but every author deserves a chance and Smashwords facilitates a more direct route to market, giving power back to the author by stripping out the extremely fat and flatulent agent/publishing middleman. Viva la revolution!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Losing myself in the creative process. If I don't write, I get withdrawal symptoms and when I found a writers group, it felt like I'd joined an addicts support network.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'll tell you when I get some!
What are you working on next?
I'm going back to my original book - the one I was writing before, 'Kill All Men'. Anyone can start a book, but there's a definite art to finishing one, and I kind of figured it out with, 'Kill All Men.' So taking what I've learned I'm going to pull it out of the magic drawer, dust it off, and get to it. 'Kill All Science' will be available to pre-order before Christmas 2014. Probably.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
It's not so mush as 'what inspires' as which of my kids scream the loudest.
What do you read for pleasure?
Believe it or not - Science magazines.
Who are your favorite authors?
There's so many I can't even begin to count - and my favourites change by the day. Chuck Palahniuk definitely has a seat at the top table though. I hate to say it, but I think American authors give British authors the run around at the moment. It's not that there aren't any good British writers, I just think the British publishing industry is in crisis and daren't take a chance on anything new or unorthodox.
Describe your desk
Amongst the inevitable mess, theres a picture of Rudyard Kipling, my daughter's homework, several books and files, a small drawing board with half finished design for a log store.. and a cup of Yorkshire tea that's gone cold.
Published 2014-05-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.