We never know how or where we will come across a new writer. A while back, someone shared a blog on Facebook of Phil Taylor and I found myself heading to his site and reading some great blogs he has written. And then I did what I always hope people do when they end up on my blog: I looked up the novel WHITE PICKET PRISONS he had written and downloaded it to read. Most indie authors use social media to communicate with their readers and before you knew it we were both tweeting how we had picked up the other's book.
I started the book while sitting in my dermatologist office and was pulled into the story of
four childhood friends who are brought back together as adults because of certain circumstances and discover how age has changed them. (It happens to us all.) Even while pulled into the story, I will admit I was having difficulty because of the formatting and editing in the book. And then out of the blue, Mr. Taylor sent me a private message that his book is being re-edited and I was blown away by the honesty of this author instead of doing what too many indies out there do - leave unedited work for the public to find. So I decided I had to interview him for my blog (even though I haven't completed his novel) so please welcome Phil Taylor to my page!
GGA: Phil, I meant what I said above. I'm really impressed with an author noticing that perhaps their work didn't go out with the best foot forward and decided to change it. Let's start there. What made you decide to rework your debut novel?
PT: The most important thing to know is what you don’t know. We never get blindsided by the stuff we know. It’s the stuff in life that we don’t know that usually upsets our best laid plans. Like most writers I have a blind spot when it comes to my writing. When I published White Picket Prisons I was fortunate to have many wonderful friends who told me that my writing was good and just as fortunate to have a few who said, “your writing is good, but…” Who doesn’t love a good but?
GGA: If people reading this now find the first edition of the book, are you telling people to hold off (as I know it's not always easy to pull the first edition from all the places it can be found online)?
PT: Absolutely not! It may be about two months before the second edition is published and I plan to leave the flawed version out there until then. In the meantime maybe my book can be a fun Where’s Waldo kind of game where readers try to spot the mistakes and e-mail or tweet me every time they find one. In fact, I’ll announce it here: Who ever finds the most mistakes and lists them in an e-mail to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) wins a free copy of my second book that’s coming out this summer.
GGA: That's awesome! A giveaway on my blog! You can be totally honest here…do you read all your reviews written across the internet?
PT: Of course! If my writing is good enough or bad enough to motivate someone to write a review I’m tremendously appreciative. Time is the most significant finite resource each of us has. For someone to use some of their valuable time reading my writing and in turn writing about it humbles me.
GGA: (I'm such a glutton for punishment that I get google alerts!) Indie authors are slammed all the time for not taking the time to get an editor, yet I have to say…I really like what I've read of the story so far - even with you editing it yourself! So let's get away from the first edition and let readers know what they can expect this summer from the 2nd edition. Where did the premise for White Picket Prisons come from?
PT: One thing readers can expect from the second edition of White Picket Prisons is commas. Apparently commas are the key to everything. The editor that helped polish the new version of WPP must have deleted a thousand commas and added a thousand more. The premise for the novel came about several years ago. I do have a close group of friends like the characters in the story. In the course of about eight months three of us lost a parent. Although none of their deaths were suspicious, the tragic coincidence set the wheels in my mind spinning. I think writing the story may have been my own self-administered therapy.
GGA: Do you have a set of male friends from high school you are still in touch with (or like many of us…is it all a Facebook only thing)?
PT: I do have a close group of friends very similar to The Golden Boys in my story and although we all live in different cities, we talk regularly and try to get together once a year. If we all do get to have The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I want three of mine to be these friends.
GGA: That's awesome to still have those guys in your life. Since this is a murder mystery. What was your favorite mystery when you were growing up?
PT: Embarrassingly, I have to admit that as a young kid I read and enjoyed the Hardy Boys mystery stories.
GGA: Nothing to be embarrassed of! (Many of us did!) You have a great blog presence online - with an awesome sarcastic wit. When did you start blogging?
PT: I began The Phil Factor in April 2005.
GGA: Was there a certain topic you knew you wanted to blog on?
PT: Again, I’m a little embarrassed, but I’ll answer honestly. I first started blogging about fantasy football. I know, cool right? One day at work I was making jokes about something and a co-worker said, “You ought to blog about that.” I had dabbled in stand-up comedy in the 90’s but when life got busy I gave it up. That’s when Al Gore invented the internet and I started blogging.
GGA: So tell me this…how does someone with a Psychology background
working in the mental health industry move into sarcastic ball-buster online?
PT: We all have our own coping style in life. Some people are extroverts, some are introverts, some confront and some withdraw. I chose to make fun of stuff.
GGA: I think you had me with the "Facebook National No Re-Post Day" blog. Can you share a little of that?
PT: The idea for “Facebook National No Re-Post Day” came on a Sunday morning when I sat down with my coffee to watch the news and browse Facebook. I opened Facebook and was subjected to an endless stream of ads, game progress reports and re-posts of cartoons from George Takei (who wouldn’t re-post the Facebook National No Re-Post Day. What gives? That guy re-posts everything!) Facebook used to be like the world’s best cocktail party where we met old friends, talked about our kids and shared vacation photos. I just wanted to try and create a day where people got back to just talking to each other on Facebook.
GGA: I like that you describe your debut novel as 'humorous murder mystery' (as I'm one that always mixes up genres too). Do you think that book will set the tone of who you are as an author, or do you plan on mixing it up as you move forward?
PT: I think that regardless of what genre I choose to write in the word ‘humorous’ will always precede it. It’s part of who I am, much to my wife’s chagrin.
GGA: What is next for The Phil Factor (yes…I dig that title on the blog)?
PT: In my dream scenario some news editor somewhere reads this interview, checks out The Phil Factor and offers me the opportunity to write a weekly syndicated humor column for a much larger audience.
GGA: Cheers to that editor reading this interview & discovering you! I look forward to following your career to see where it goes next and really look forward to finishing your book! Check out Phil on his website The Phil Factor, Facebook or follow him on twitter @ThePhilFactor! (He needs some more twitter love!)