Interview with Phillip Drown

Describe your desk
My desk is pretty small, a nice and basic pine affair. I don't really know where I first got it from - it's been with me since mid-2007. I think that I probably procured it from my parents house when they or I was moving (which they/I tend to do quite a lot).
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Growing up in England, as a child I was always fascinated with Spike Milligan, Michael Rosen and Roald Dahl. I remember enjoying making up my own stories and poems - usually in the nonsense-style of the aforementioned - and attempting to add illustrations to them. (Spike looked around our house once upon a time; apparently I walked with him and his wife reciting his poems. I have only vague recollections of this old man who said not a word). At that age, my heroes weren't footballers and musicians: it was people who wrote poems that kept me constantly amused.
When did you first start writing?
I always have written - though I suppose that I waned a bit when I first discovered going out to the pub. In 2007, I left my job with the options of either going travelling or to try and start writing a book. I moved away to the south-east coast and spent the first few months reading study guides and stewing over how the heck I actually start doing this thing. I had a beginning and an end and a vague idea of what would happen in between. Probably like anyone who has ever attempted to write a book, I couldn't imagine how you fill up the first page, let alone an entire novel. So, 6 months later, having drawn out spider web charts for characters and formed a kind of plot, I started on 26th January 2008 . . . and my story ran to 245,000 words. It was a great exercise, but that novel is still in the attic in a (pretty big) box, waiting for a rainy day.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I wanted to do a rock 'n' roll story. Again, I had an idea of where I wanted to go with it, but all just seemed so clichéd. It's been done. And lots of times! In the record shop I was working in, I was leaning on the counter and reading a Mojo interview with R.L. Burnside. This was a man who had records, of international repute, living in a mobile home, in a kind of layby at the side of the road, with 3 generations of his family. I can still see the picture accompanying the article: R.L. in a dirty vest, unshaven, looking pretty haggard, with dogs and kids running around in the dust behind him. So instead I thought, who's done a blues singer story?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I liken finishing a story to when you leave someone's house after spending the night with them for the first time. That delicious feeling, almost smug self-satisfaction, of not being able to stop thinking about them, wondering when you will see them again; to where might that night together might lead. When I'm writing seriously, I like to write in the morning and then have the afternoon - preferably doing strenuous gardening (seriously!) - to think about the next chapter, maybe jot a couple lines of dialogue to include. I can't ever stop thinking about an idea, once it's in my head. Just like leaving the house of a new lover.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'll let you know as soon as someone declares themselves to be one . . .
What are you working on next?
I would always like to keep some strain of musical influence running through my stories. I have a whole boxful of ideas. I have an almost-complete plot of a story that came from a dream I had (I'd love to share, but I hate the idea of someone claiming my intended conflict before I have written it; call it 'intense paranoia'). This autumn I will be ready to get it going. In the meantime I am writing short stories, to keep up the practice. The beauty of the short story being that it's here and now; it can often be written in a day. And you get to share them almost instantly. As I have currently have a low-maintenance garden, I'm going to build some things out of wood in my afternoons.
Who are your favorite authors?
The protagonist of my story has a name which is tribute to two of my favourite authors: he is called Booya - the name of the other-worldly place, Booya moon, in Stephen King's 'Lisey's Story'; his surname is Carthy as a nod to Cormac McCarthy. I would say that my favourite all-time novel is Dumas' 'The Count of Monty Cristo'. I adore Nick Hornby's works: honest, funny and true. Currently, I am working back through any Ian Banks stories I haven't read. His use of prose is up there with Dumas, most definitely. The short stories of Roald Dahl and Somerset Maugham have also been on my recent reading list. Oh, and Peter James's Roy Grace series has always been a family favourite.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
When I am working on a something new, I can't wait to get up, sparing only a few minutes for a shower - and I have infamously long showers. And if it's a sunny day. Although I like to walk in the rain too. In fact, I can't remember when I last had a proper lie in. I like getting out of bed each day.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not really the first story I ever wrote, but I did discover something that amused me not so long ago. I was reading through old school report cards. On one for R.E., the teacher wrote something along the lines of: If Phillip ever actually answered the question posed directly, rather than write at tangents, he would achieve much higher grades. His presentation is clear and his answers show an understanding to the purpose of the question, but he needs to understand that not everything needs to be made into a story.
I liked that. And I think it shows that I've always written stories . . . even when answering a simple question about John the Baptist.
Do you remember the first story you ever read?
I remember the first story that had a major impact on me: 'Billy' by Albert French. It still is one of my favourite books. The dialect is perfect; the story is all too believable. I must have been about 11 when we were assigned this in English class. I remember reading it again immediately after. Soon after that I read John Grisham's 'Time To Kill', Robert C. O'Brien's 'Z for Zachariah', 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Red Dragon' by Thomas Harris. Suddenly comics and Tintin books had turned into real-life action stories. In fact, I think that I plagiarised 'Red Dragon' for an English assignment.
Published 2015-07-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Reputation of Booya Carthy
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 150,060. Language: English. Published: July 31, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
All that Calvin 'Booya' Carthy wants to do is play the blues. Immersing himself into the cut-throat local scene, his popularity spreads beyond the county borders. The Great Depression has hit America. Violent racial hatred remains rife. As danger follows Calvin to those he loves, he must decide how much he would sacrifice for his reputation. Where is there to hide when everyone knows your name?