Interview with Philip Robinson

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Lower East side of New York. I was raised by my single-mom of six in the housing projects of Manhattan. I attended the New York Public Schools; up to graduation from high school. I was influenced tremendously to write because of all the different cultures, and racial compositions that existed right in my building and respective community.. I have always had a strong curiosity about people in general, as to what makes us different, what are some of our common characteristics and goals do we possess. So, the beginning of my writing was set up to pursue those answers.
When did you first start writing?
Well, in my pursuit of exploring people and myself, I started writing while as a freshmen in undergraduate school, which was Emerson College in Boston Massachusetts. I felt so compelled to obtain an education and applied to school out of New York. I often felt one of the man reasons I left New York was to also find out more about myself. So, aptly, I have been writing ever since and happy about what I am continually discovering out about myself. I remain a work in process, and writing helps me to sort things out. It would be cliche' to say writing is a therapeutic, but it is!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Well, while here in Boston, as in the world at large, we were all confronted in the late 1980's with the pandemic known as HIV/AIDS. I experienced so many, like many others, losses of friend and family through this life-shattering illness. I needed to write something that spoke to this loss, but also uplifted a sense of hope. Some of my late writer friends who passed away were the impetuous for the title, "We Still Leave a Legacy'. Their lives weren't in vain I remind myself. Their love, their laughter, and their writings were and still remains a great source of inspiration for me, hence the title.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have always found great pleasure and happiness being able to create one's work, and share it as freely with the masses. In being an indie author, I get to share my work quickly and with many people who still enjoy reading about up-and-coming writers like myself.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Well, I am hoping Smashwords adds to my success by making me more accessible to one a larger audience and keep my publishing my work at such a great low cost.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I find the greatest joy in writing for me is being able to read my work upon completion , and have people identify with the universality of my message, which become their message as well. There is no better acceptance of one's work than being applauded and asked to read again at different venues. Its seals the writing for me.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans, who are always a mixture of old and new, motivate me by being in the audience, participating by smiling and any gesture that lets me know that they appreciate and accept the written word. The nobility of writing is to have it touch people, inspire them and make them come back to hear more. A fan to me is someone who allows the truth through words to allow them to grow. We become simpatico in movement!
What are you working on next?
I just completed a volume of fictionalized poems, and short stories related to my thirty-two years as a guidance counselor in the Boston Public Schools. The book title is "In The Trenches: The Voice of A Guidance Counselor". I attempt to capture some of nuances of what its like to be a person set out to help guide youth, and ended up learning so much about my own life through their uncensored lives and disclosure. The students have presented to me their lives and it has changed mine!
Who are your favorite authors?
I have new ones and old ones. My latest find is Jesmyn Ward, an extraordinary non-fiction writer out of Mississippi, there is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a pastor who can preach through the book, and poetry runs the gamut, late writers still steal my soul, and I re-read them for their intensity, Assotto Saint, Essex Hemphill, Joseph Beam, Thomas Grimes, and my dearly soul-mated writer friend Roy Gonsalves. This writers and there are more, keep me writing.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for my partner of thirty-six years, Joseph Jackson, who is always so motivating and encouraging. He wakes up with a mission to do something better than the previous day. I try to follow suit. We are able to grow once we know its about how we interact with others, give of self, unselfishly, and never be afraid of the challenges we have to face. I also know in some way shape or form, I'll find something to write about. To get out of bed is a duty, each day is literally and figuratively a gift!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a consciously aware sixth-six year old person that knows now that exercising is a important key to staying healthy. So, I am doing something physical each and every day; from the gym to a walk. I enjoy reading, going out with my Joseph, and friends and family to movies, and dinner. I am also involved in my twenty-eighth year with the AIDS Action Committee (AAC) of Massachusetts. I serve as a volunteer on the AAC's Bayard Rustin Community Breakfast. This iconic event brings together yearly LGBTQ communities of color and their allies for the purpose of empowering us all in our quest to find a cure regarding HIV/AIDS. We use the tenets of social justice and social change articulated by the later civil rights gay activist Bayard Rustin as our motivation.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Honesty, this will be my first time exploring eBooks. I am a neophyte as it reading to this form of social media. I am also attempting On-Demand-Publishing (CreateSpace) for the very first time. I am on a new learning curve so to speak.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was something related to Nathaniel Hawthorne, possibly the "Scarlet Letter".
What is your writing process?
Now, that I am retired, thank-you, I attempt to write something every other day. I am usually inspired to write once I experience something emotional either to me or some.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was quite cute, something about a mother and father taking trip with their four kids from New York to California in a car. There were six of us in my immediate family and we never went on a long trip. I wish I could remember the title. But, the whole notion of a family traveling together was out of sync for me. It is has me appreciate more family gatherings late in life.
How do you approach cover design?
I was fortunate via my publicist and friend, Michele Karlsberg (Staten Island Marketing & Management Consultant), to connect me to a superb book designer, herself an author, Ann McMan who had a vision of her own, once she heard my title. I am very pleased with her work. I will also use her for my next book, "In The Trenches: The Voice of A Guidance Counselor".
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In The Life A Black Gay Anthology- edited by Joseph Beam-for its candor and honesty!
Fragments That Remain-Steven Corbin-powerful version of one's life in pursuit of happiness
Between The World and Me-Ta-Nehisi Coates-Profound truths and awakening discovery
Role Models-John Waters-People who we once loved and are re-surfaced to love again!
The Fire This Time-Jesmyn Ward-James Baldwin paved the way for this one, and it speaks loud!
What do you read for pleasure?
Local papers, The Boston Globe, Bay Windows (Massachusetts gay-weekly), New York Times Sunday's edition, Styles, Week in Review, the magazine, The New York magazine.
What do I intend to get from On-Demand-Publishing?
I am hoping to generate a larger audience. I also intend to listen out more clearly for other authors who have used OBP for their advice and impressions of how to make this new process work.
Describe your desk
I use the dining room table in my dining room. It has a jar with pens and pencils and my computer. I am careful not to leave my printed work close to glass of anything. I work looking out of back door facing my beautiful backyard garden.
My last question, How do never lose sight of the other writers that preceded us?
I think each generation of writers owes so much gratitude and respect to other writers who came before us. People like James Baldwin, Melvin Dixon, Langston Hughes and even Robert Frost paved the way for writers of today. We must echo them in what we say, we must pay homage for the sacrifices that made for us to have this platform to speak up and rise consciousness about everything!
What are your favorite authors?
I have new and old ones. My most recent find is a non-fiction writer Jesmyn Ward out of Mississippi. The Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is another one that speak truth to power on his pages. I am greatly appreciated some of the best poets, and writers I had the opportunity to share the stage with their passion , intensity of words and love of humanity. I still read the words of Essex Hemphill, Assotto Saint, my dear friend and soul-mate Thomas Grimes, the double soul mate, Roy Gonsalves. The amazing work of people in the trenches even today like Craig Hickman, and Arthur Collins are pioneers of the performance art of poetry.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the lower Wast Side of New York. I was raised by a single-mom of six children in the housing projects in the borough of Manhattan. I attended the New York Public Schools up to graduation from high school. I was greatly influenced to write because of the different cultures, and racial compositions that existed right in my building and the respective community. I had a strong curiosity about people in general, as to what makes us different, what are some of of our common characteristics and goals do we similarly possess. So, the beginning of my writing experience was set out to pursue those variables and answer many questions.
When did you first start writing?
Well, in pursuit of exploring people and myself, I started my writing in the late 1960's and early 1970's while as a freshmen in undergraduate school, which was Emerson College in Boston Massachusetts. I felt compelled to obtain a higher education, and applied to various schools. Emerson College was the right fit. I also sensed that being out of New York, I would discover more about myself and others. So, aptly, I have been writing ever since, and happy with the unique and endless discoveries I am making. I remain a work-in-progress. It would be cliche' to say writing is therapeutic. But it is!
What's the story behind this particular book?
In the late 1980's, we were all confronted with the pandemic known as HIV/AIDS. It shattered me. The enormity of its impact was insurmountable. I experienced so many, like so other people, tremendous loss of friends and family through this life-altering illness. I needed to write about what I called "personal-loss" to help save my soul. Many of my writer friends passed in too rapid speed at that time. Their lives weren't in vain, I reminded myself. In fact, their love, their passion, and love, notwithstanding their creative writings with force, were and still remains a source of my inspiration. Hence, the title of my book, "We Still Leave a Legacy".
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have always found pleasure and satisfaction in being able to create one's own work. Additionally, to share that work as freely with the masses. I believe there is an immediacy with being an indie author, you write and share quickly! I am intrigued there is such a large audience who read our stuff and that makes the support ever-so-good!
What do you fans mean to you?
My fans, who are more like are friends and family, are always a mixture of old and new. They motivate me by being in the audience, participating by smiling, and making gestures (verbal ones excites me), that lets me know that they appreciate and accept the written word. There is a nobility to writing. So whenever it is read, it can touch folks lives in ways unimaginable, inspire them, and make them come back for more. A fan is someone who through accepting the truth through words, grow. We all become simpatico in movement!
What are
I have new ones and old ones. My latest find is Jessyn Ward; an extraordinary non-diction writer of Mississippi, there is Dr. Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, a pastor who can preach through the book, and then there are poets who run the gamut, late writers still steal my heart, and I re-read them for their intensity like Assotto Saint, Thomas Grimes, and Roy Gonsalves (these two were my soul-mated friends), ah, of course Joseph Beam, and Essex Hemphill. These writers and there are more, keep me writing!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have tremendous amount of respect for my partner of thirty-six years, Joseph Jackson. Joseph is always so motivating and encouraging. He awakens each day with a mission to do something better than the previous day. I try to follow suit. We grow once we know it is important to interact with others in a positive way. Joseph does that faithfully. I also get out of the bed because to be healthy and able, one should get up and face the world. That speaks of karma. I always know I'll find something to write about!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) In The Life: A Black Gay Anthology: Joseph Beam-for its candor and its fierce words!
2) Fragments That Remain-Steven Corbin-Powerfull vision of one's life in pursuit of happiness
3) Between The World and Me-Ta-Nehisi Coates-compelling truths and awakening discoveries
4) Role Models-John Waters-Not forgotten people who impact the world
5) The Fire This Time-Jessyn Ward-James Baldwin paved the way for this one and its speaks loud
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a consciously aware sixty-six year old gay black man who knows that exercising it is an important key to staying healthy. So, I do something physical every day, from going to the gym to taking a brisk walk. I also enjoy reading books, non-fiction grabs me, to going out with my partner, friends and family to movies and of course good dinners. I am also involved in my twenty-eighth year, with the AIDS Action Committee (AAC) of Massachusetts as a volunteer. I specifically serve on AAC's Bayard Rustin Community Breakfast Committee. This iconic event (the longest running one in the country) brings together yearly LGBTQ communities of color and their allies for the purpose of empowering us all in the quest to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. We follow the tenets of the late Bayard Rustin who articulated strongly for social justice and social change.
What are working on next?
I just completed a volume of fictionalized poems, and short stories related to my thirty-two years as a guidance counselor and teacher in the Boston Public Schools. The book is entitled "In The Trenches: The Voice of A Guidance Counselor". I attempt to capture some of the nuances our youth; in how their behave with one another, and their adults, and how they strived to become better people. I ultimately learned greatly by being with them. Their uncensored honesty made me a fan of them all.
How do approach cover design?
I was fortunate to be working with a wonderful publicist and friend, Michele Karlsberg (Marketing and Management Consultant) who connected me with a superb book designer and herself an author, Ann McMan. Well, Ann has such talent and once she heard my title, she created this wonderful masterpiece. I will definitely work with her again on my forthcoming book, "in The Trenches: The Voice of Guidance Counselor".
Published 2017-04-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

We Still Leave a Legacy
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 18,410. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Gay & lesbian
We Still Leave a Legacy is a chapbook of verses written and dedicated in part to the many friends and family members that have transitioned either by way of HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-troubling issues. In this poetry book, Philip attempts to capture his own sense of hope, determination and remembrance. He wants people to not only hear his voice, but not forget the voices of others.