This is part of a new series of interviews featuring indie authors. These interviews will drop once or twice a week. If you’d like to be part of this series, please contact me at Sarah (at) bookwormblues (dot) net. Please support the authors by clicking on the affiliate links in the interview, spread the word, and, of course, buy their books.
We’re all in this together, you know?
About the Author
C.T. Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular reviewer at The United Federation of Charles and the author of Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, The Red Room series, Lucifer’s Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga.
The United Federation of Charles (blog)
The C.T. Phipps Fan Club (Facebook)
Describe yourself in six words or fewer.
Funny Kentucky panda.
Tell me about your books.
I have a few series that I am very proud of and think are excellent places for people hoping to check out my books to start on.
The first is my interconnected United States States of Monster books that are all set in a shared world where supernaturals have come out to the world and are now struggling for recognition. Some of which are normal people and others are monsters pretending to be people. Yes, so original, I know but I love the idea.
- Psycho Killers in Love: A prequel to the rest of the series that is an homage to Eighties and Nineties slasher movies. William England and his sister Carrie are a pair of slashers who have inherited the condition from their father, Billy the Immortal a.k.a The Christmas Killer. Haunted by his ghost, literally, they struggle to build a new life for themselves after escaping the asylum. That’s when William meets the beautiful Nancy Loomis, who just so happens to be a supernatural slasher killer. Can these two fall in love despite their differences? How about slaughter a misogynist cult of serial killers in the process? What will his sister say?
- Esoterrorism: Another prequel to the Reveal, Derek Hawthorne is a professional spy and assassin who works for the mysterious House. The House keeps the supernatural hidden from the public while using magic to enrich themselves as well as increase their personal power. Derek thinks they’re the lesser evil but has a rude awakening when he’s framed for treason and finds out they may be the bad guys. The only person he can trust is his succubus partner, Shannon, and can he really trust her?
- I was a Teenage Weredeer: Jane Doe is a weredeer in the town of Bright Falls, Michigan. It is a town with a population of roughly half shifters of various tribes. Jane wants more than anything to escape her rural life but this plan is interrupted by her brother being framed for murder. Teaming up with her dainty werewolf friend, Emma, Jane sets out to find the real killer. Unfortunately, the entire town seems bent on covering up the truth. Snarky puns and kickass heroines in the vein of Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Straight Outta Fangton: Peter Stone is the unluckiest vampire in the world. Embraced after a tour in Iraq, he finds himself working the graveyard shift at an all-night gas station while the rest of the undead party in New Detroit. This all changes when a vampire is turned in his business’ bathroom, embroiling him in a complex conspiracy to destroy all vampires.
- Brightblade: Ashley Morgan is a woman who trained her entire life to be a hunter of monsters for the mysterious House but with the fall of it and Reveal, they’re now protected by law. Trying to be a superhero and failing in a supernatural world, she’s since ended up as broken-down PI. Will the discovery of her vampirized brother and return of her FBI mage boyfriend change her life?
I’m also quite fond of The Rules of Supervillainy, which is the first of six hilarious superhero parodies. Gary Karkofsky is an ordinary schlub, recently fired due to a collapsing economy, when he finds a magical cloak that bestows on him the powers of the legendary superhero known as the Nightwalker. Gary’s desires are to be rich, famous, and powerful rather than to save the world, though. Unfortunately, is he evil enough to be the villain he wants to be?
What makes you and your books unique? Shine for me, you diamond.
For me, I try to make a blender of everything I love about the genres I write in. My books are a celebration of what I love about the genre rather than just books that try to invent the wheel. Straight Outta Fangton is a book about vampires as they’ve evolved in pop culture as much as they are about a specific vampire. It talks about how they grew from being disgusting peasants to suave nobleman and now are exploiting their perceived sexiness to get all the blood they want. The Rules of Supervillainy is more fun the more you know about comic books and how Gary has serious issues with the antiheroes of the Nineties while thinking the immortal heroes from the Sixties are cheesy but fun. He also comments at how modern heroes just keep acting like they’re filming a movie. I was a Teenage Weredeer is my loving homage to supernatural heroines and detective fiction with a dash of Twin Peaks thrown in for good measure.
What are you working on now/any future projects you want to talk about?
I am presently working on the next installment of The Supervillainy Saga with The Horror of Supervillainy, which is a send up of the classic Vertigo comics of DC comics as well as its various horror-based heroes. Gary is heading out into a haunted swamp outside his city to deal with Count Dracula and a crooked alien sheriff to rescue the President’s daughter. Yeah, that will go well.
I’m also finishing up the Bright Falls Mystery trilogy with Jane Doe’s final adventure, A Nightmare on Elk Street. Jane has been hired for security on a local B-movie being filmed in a haunted campground. Unfortunately, as happens in these sorts of things, someone is determined to shut the production down with a host of incarnate movie slashers.
Let’s celebrate. What’s one of the best things that’s happened to you as an author? Don’t be shy.
When I got contacted by some fans who thanked me for my representing them in my books. Some said it meant a lot to them and that meant a lot to me.
Let’s talk about CRAFT
If you had to start over with writing and publishing, what would you do differently and why?
I would have started with a bit more research. One of the things you need to know as an independent writer is there’s a lot of people wanting to take advantage of you or promising you the world. I got the benefit of meeting some genuinely decent people like Jim Bernheimer (Confessions of a D-List Supervillain) and David Niall Wilson (Crossroad Press) who showed me the ropes but it required me to meet some people who treated me poorly too.
Tell me about something odd you do when you write? Something about your particular process that is distinctly YOU.
I admit that I am pathologically incapable of writing protagonists who are not full of snark. Even when I attempt to write a serious book, I end up writing them as smartasses. It’s good to have a style, though, and this is the chief appeal of my books like The Rules of Supervillainy, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Psycho Killers in Love, and Straight Outta Fangton. I admit, if I could be the next Christopher Moore I’d consider my career well-justified.
How do you build your world/characters? What does your process of creation look like?
I think my writing process is characters first, then plot, and then writing out how they interact with it. Characters like Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: the Supervillainy without MercyTM, Jane Doe the Weredeer, William the Reluctant Slasher, and Peter Stone the World’s Unluckiest Vampire are all things that spring fully formed from my mind like Athena. What they do is really the star of my books more than what they encounter.
Plotter or pantser, and why?
Panster. No plot survives first contact with my characters.
Sarah’s note: This answer speaks to my soul.
Let’s talk about diversity. How do you incorporate realistic diversity into your books? And why is it important to you?
I feel that diversity is an important part of writing in the 21st century (not that it ever wasn’t). The world is a colorful place and making it monochromatic doesn’t make it more believable. I find it best to incorporate people of multiple races, religions, sexualities, and genders. The people of those groups appreciate it and it often makes for a richer character.
Usually, I try to make the character first and see if adding an additional layer informs or benefits their story. I try to avoid stereotypes but am pleased to note even if I don’t get it 100% right that minority audiences are usually still supportive. Some of my favorite fans became such because I incorporated characters that other authors did not.
Do you listen to music when you write? What kind?
Blind Guardian, Sabaton, and Halestorm are my go-to writing music. I listened to the retro-1980s hair metal band Crazy Lixx for writing Psycho Killers in Love. It was the band that did the tracks for the Friday the 13th game.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched while writing a book?
Obscure Romanian vampire lore. I wanted to make my Straight Out of Fangton a lot more authentic to the original vampire legends while incorporating many nods to modern concepts. I had a lot of fun with some of the odder ones like the fact vampires are forced to count sesame seeds. Yes, so the Count on Sesame Street is strigoi accurate!
What research tips or tricks would you give another writer?
It’s important to try to immerse yourself in the genre of the subject you’re writing about. Stephen King said that your books will be like milk in the fridge. “It will taste like what you leave it next to.” I find its best to know exactly what you want to write about and then surround yourself with it. If you want to write space opera, do a Star Trek and Star Wars marathon. Want to write post-apocalypse fiction, watch some Mad Max and play The Last of Us. You’ll avoid plagiarism because you’ll know how to put your own spin on things more.
Let’s talk about BOOKS
Tell me about the most recent book you’ve read.
Brock Deskin’s Shrouds of Darkness, which is a vampire story about a hundred-year-old detective that can’t help but hate himself for both what he is as well as what he’s done. Noir and vampires go together well. Other books I’ve been enjoying are A Wizard’s Forge by A.M. Justice, The Rhenwars Saga by M.L. Spencer, A Light in the Dark by Ulff Lehmann, and the Harry Stubbs occult mystery novels by David Hambling.
What book(s) or authors have influenced you, and why?
Christopher Moore, Joss Whedon, and Jim Butcher were huge influences on my writing style. I also owe a lot to Laurel K. Hamilton’s early books as well as Charlaine Harris and Patricia Briggs. All three of them helped contribute to my love of urban fantasy.
What protagonist/antagonist in a book do you relate to the most, and why?
If it’s not cheating, I’m pretty much either Gary (The Rules of Supervillainy) or Jane (I was a Teenage Weredeer) depending on the day.
Let’s throw some light on diversity. What are some books you love that feature diverse characters, diverse authors, etc.
I have a very big fondness for Anti-Lovecraft novels by authors of color and diversity. I love cosmic horror and the Cthulhu Mythos, but their creator had some serious problems. It’s interesting when modern authors claim the mythos for themselves. Victor Lavalle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is incredible with its black protagonist sharing a story of sorcery in Red Hook. Ruthanna Emyrs’ The Innsmouth Legacy is about an asexual Deep One sorceress leaving the concentration camps her people were held in after WW2. There’s also Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, which needs no introduce since the HBO series.
I also love David Niall Wilson and Patricia Macomber’s Remember Bowling Green: The Time Traveling Adventures of Frederick Douglass. That’s overtly political but hilarious.
Hobbies & all things WEIRD
When you aren’t writing, what can you typically be found doing?
I am a husband and puppy parent who cares for both his wife as well as doggies. I also an avid tabletop gamer, book reader, book reviewer, and video game player. So, when I’m not writing, I have plenty of things to do. However, the books are what pays the bills, so I am extremely focused on them. I particularly recommend the Vampire: The Masqueraderecent visual novels and comic books.
Best comic book character ever. Why?
My top three are Spider-Man (married), Supergirl (Kara Danvers), and Oracle (Barbara Gordon). I have to say it’s a toss-up which version I like best. Spider-Man is best when he’s the everyman hard luck hero and I grew up with him married to Mary Jane Watson. I feel like a lot of the character was destroyed. Supergirl is amazing and I’m so glad the television show has expanded awareness of her character. Barbara Gordon as Oracle is one of my all-time favorite characters and I hate that the mature dangerous adult has been regressed back to Batgirl. Harley Quinn, Cassandra Cain, and Cassie Hack are also on my list.
If you had to pick a superpower, what would you pick and why?
Magic. Flexible and arcane.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Panda. Eat, sleep, look adorable.
What’s the soundtrack to your life?
Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer”
Any final thoughts?
*holds up hyno-coin* Buy my books, buy my books, buy my books. You will find them hilarious.