I regularly follow a couple of fantasy and science fiction-related Facebook pages. The first, SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off), youâ€™ve probably heard me talk about in the past, as it is where I discovered previous guest, Devin Madson. Created by award-winning fantasy author Mark Lawrence, the SPFBO pits 300 self-published fantasy authorsâ€™ works in a competition against one another, with popular fantasy blogging sites as the judges. The second page is called Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers â€“ a page followed by over 5,200 people (both readers and writers, of course) and dedicated to the discussion of all things â€œgrimdark.â€
For quite some time, I had seen reviews and comments on both pages by an indie author named C.T. Phipps. Intrigued by his thoughtful engagement with readers and writers alike, I decided to browse his Amazon page to see what his books were all about. Well, let me tell you, I am so glad I did. Phipps has numerous series, from science fiction to fantasy to horror and everything in between, and from what Iâ€™ve read thus far (his grimdark space opera, Luciferâ€™s Star, and his comedic vampire urban fantasy, Straight Outta Fangton), Iâ€™ve learned he is both prolific in his number of books and his style of writing.
The man can tell a powerfully poetic, layered story in just about any genre, and I cannot wait to dig into more of his works. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are the official synopses for both Lucifer’s Star and Straight Outta Fangton.
Cassius Mass was the greatest star pilot of the Crius Archduchy. He fought fiercely for his cause, only to watch his nation fall to the Interstellar Commonwealth. It was only after that he realized the side he’d been fighting for was the wrong one. Now a semi-functional navigator on an interstellar freight hauler, he tries to hide who he was and escape his past. Unfortunately, some things refuse to stay buried and he ends up conscripted by the very people who destroyed his homeland.
LUCIFER’S STAR is the first novel of the Lucifer’s Star series, a dark science fiction space opera set in a world of aliens, war, politics, and slavery.
Straight Outta Fangton:
Peter Stone is a poor black vampire who is wondering where his nightclub, mansion, and sports car are. Instead, he is working a minimum wage job during the night shift as being a vampire isnâ€™t all that impressive in a world where theyâ€™ve come out to mortals. Exiled from the rich and powerful undead in New Detroit, he is forced to go back when someone dumps a newly-transformed vampire in the bathroom of his gas stationâ€™s store. This gets him fangs-deep in a plot of vampire hunters, supernatural revolutionaries, and a millennium-old French knight determined to wipe out the supernatural.
Sometimes, it just doesnâ€™t pay to get out of the coffin.
I had the chance to chat with C.T. Phipps for this monthâ€™s Indie Author Spotlight, and Iâ€™m excited to share the interview here at Geeks of Doom. So check out the interview below, and then do yourself a favor and pick up some of his books! (You can also follow him on Twitter @Willowhugger.)
Geeks of Doom: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have a chat here with the Geeks of Doom community!
C.T. Phipps: Thank you very much for having me. Iâ€™m always glad to share my thoughts on my books, fandom, and writing.
GoD: What does the writing process look like for you?
CTP: For me, I tell the stories I tell first for me. I want the characters and their journey to be something I would want to read myself. That’s partially why my writing is so diverse: superheroes, space opera, vampires, secret agents, Cthulhu, and cyborgs. I sit down and tell the story and want to finish it because usually I don’t know how it’s going to end myself. Heck, I’ve often changed my plans because the characters went in a different direction.
GoD: What is your approach to finding success as an independent author?
CTP: I think the best piece of advice I can give my fellow independent authors is the fact that you have to remember two things:
1. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. Books which weren’t initially successful may be so when you get a fanbase for other series.
2. Success is measured in different ways.
Finishing a book is a success, 100 copies sold is a success, 1,000 copies sold is a big success, and so on. You have to be like Kickstarter stretch goals with these things. Every new success creates a new step on your journey as a writer and you need to take joy in what you can. Building up to become the next J. K. Rowling may or may not be possible, but will involve interacting with your fans, networking, getting your name out, and perhaps a little luck. But donâ€™t think youâ€™ve failed if you donâ€™t. This is an art and the art should be the end goal.
GoD: How did you come up with and develop the ideas for the Luciferâ€™s Star series and Straight Outta Fangton? Are the end results close to what you had originally imagined?
CTP: Lucifer’s Star was written when I was disappointed with the new trilogy of Star Wars and I wanted to write my own ideal sequel. It’s gradually gone on to be an epic dark fantasy in space that involves constant politicking, betrayals, and moral ambiguity. The ending of the first book was completely different than what I expected, though. I was going to have a big, epic, and heroic one but my characters surprised me by going in a completely different direction.
Straight Outta Fangton was just my attempt to write a love letter to vampires. A book which contained scary vampires, monstrous vampires, handsome vampires, and poor working class vampires. Itâ€™s a comedy, but a serious story under all the jokes. I didn’t know if Peter Stone would be the start of a new universe, but I’ve had a huge amount of fun with the world he’s created.
GoD: Where do you see these stories headed? Do you have plans for future installments?
CTP: Lucifer’s Star is meant to be a three-book series, though I may revisit the universe afterward. I’ve already written the second book, Lucifer’s Nebula, and I hope people will enjoy Lucifer’s World. The characters have grown and become more interesting as a result. I like the way the relationships have evolved and grown.
Straight Outta Fangton is part of the United States of Monsters series and I have no plans of ending that series anytime soon. I also have multiple spin-offs planned as I absolutely love the universe. The first sequel, 100 Miles and Vampinâ€™, will be out in the month of October.
GoD: You have multiple other series, spanning a plethora of genres, for readers to delve into; but despite such a broad spectrum of literature, you still manage to create fantastical worlds (oftentimes with at least a touch of darkness), that bring forth heavy, real-life topics in thought-provoking ways. What is your thought process like when infusing such concepts into science fiction, fantasy, and horror?
CTP: I think there’s actually no such thing as genre gating when you get down to it. At the end of the day, the only thing that exists is good characters and things which happen to them. Whether it occurs in fantasy, space, vampire covens, or post-apocalypse deserts full of aliens. I also think blending genres are awesome.
GoD: Aside from sequels to the books that you are already working on, do you have any new series in the works that you can let us know about?
CTP: I’m releasing a new volume to The Supervillainy Saga, which is The Tournament of Supervillainy. I’m very proud of that volume and think people will enjoy it. It’s a story about how Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless and his gang of ne’er do wells get invited to a universe-cross tournament of various superheroes. Characters from Agent G, Lucifer’s Star, and I Was A Teenage Weredeer show up to make it all the crazier.
I’m also getting a new release with Wraith Lord, which is the sequel of Wraith Knight, which is sort of my unofficial sequel to The Lord of the Rings. After the Dark Lord is defeated, what happens to the kingdoms of men? What happens when they have no enemy to unite against and the servants of evil are no longer enslaved.
Finally, I have a Young Adult novel called Predestiny that I have written with Frank Martin. That’s a Terminator-influenced time-travel novel about a young man who finds out he’s meant to be the worst dictator the Earth has ever seen.
GoD: How can the Geeks of Doom community support you?
CTP: I appreciate everything that Geeks of Doom has done by reading and reviewing Lucifer’s Star and Straight Outta Fangton. You guys are the reason why so many fans have found my work and I owe you big time for it. People underestimate how much the fan community and their reviews, interviews, plus guest spots mean to independent authors. If not for it, we wouldn’t just be independent–we’d be unknown.