An interview with author Phil Taylor

Do you think humour differs significantly between countries or cultural groups?
There are definitely differences. The Americans are much funnier than the Brits. No, I’m just kidding. I love my blogging friends from the U.K. and I laugh at their posts all the time. I don’t know if the differences between cultures or countries are significant, but I think there are some. I like the differences though because they teach me different ways to use humour in my writing.

Are there niche humour groups, and if so, which one do you belong to?
I’m sure there are niche humour groups, but I don’t pretend to know them all. I’m sure that if you Google some stuff that you don’t want in your search history you can find some very niche humour groups. If I do belong to a niche group, I think it’s deadpan sarcasm.

You’ve been blogging since 2005. How has your blog changed over time?
My blog has definitely changed over time. For instance, now sometimes people read it. I’m more structured now and I definitely put more time and effort into it as my audience has grown larger. When my blog was in its first few years, I definitely took more chances with my humour and what I posted more closely approximated my humour in real life. Now I try to write for a broader audience.

How much do you consider your audience when creating posts? Do you write for the audience, or for yourself?
First and foremost, I write for myself. I write what I enjoy. For my audience, I try to write to make people laugh. When there is a big headline tragedy in the world I try to write something funny completely unrelated, so that, if even for a few minutes, it takes people’s minds away.

Are there rules for blogging? Should there be?
Yes. Rule #1, if you’re reading this, you must subscribe to my blog. Other than that, I don’t believe there should be rules. In general, I don’t think that rules are necessary. The blogging world is a very Darwinism kind of place. If people don’t like your blog content, they won’t read it.

Other than those in the comedy genre, what kind of blogs and books do you enjoy reading?
I like horror and suspense. Stephen King and Dean Koontz are two of my favorites. I also like sociology based books like those written by Malcolm Gladwell.

What did you do to celebrate the release of your first book, White Picket Prisons?
White Picket Prisons by [Taylor, Phil]
I didn’t really do anything. To be honest, everyday felt like a celebration because people I knew and strangers from all over the world were contacting me by social media and telling me that they enjoyed my book. That’s the best part of any book for me, not the writing or creating, but just talking with people.

Has the writing process changed significantly between your first book and your most recent one?
Absolutely! When I wrote the first book I imagined it as a stand-alone and I didn’t know if I’d ever write another. Now, when I imagine a story, I think about all the possibilities going forward not only for the story I’m writing but for the characters after the current story.

Tell us about your latest work, Time to Lie.
Time to Lie (Landon Bridges' Story Book 1) by [Taylor, Phil]
Time to Lie is a new twist on the time travel genre, not only in how the time travel is accomplished but how Landon decides to use it. Also, the time travel isn’t the star of the story. Landon’s growth as a person is actually the story.

“Landon, c’mon! Hurry up!”
Idiots, I said to myself. I slammed the door behind me and ran. My footsteps pounding down the hallway echoed off the aged tile floors and painted cinder block. Without slowing down, I pushed open the swinging door at the end of the corridor with my outstretched hands. I didn’t worry about anyone’s safety – just barreled through the door, banging it against the wall. My feet skittered a little as I tried to turn on a dime. When I faced the elevator, my eyes met hers for just a split second before the doors closed, severing our all-too-brief gaze. Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear I saw her pupils begin to dilate and the corner of her mouth turn upward before the spell was broken. I stood there, breathing heavily. Somewhere – I think it was Twitter – I read, the first kiss is not with the lips, but with the eyes. If that was the case, I was pretty sure my eyes just tried to make out with her, with tongue.
Time to Lie by Phil Taylor

The new book is noted as ‘Landon Bridges’ Story Book 1′ – how many books do you envisage the series being?
I haven’t envisioned an end point to the story. The medium of time travel opens up a lot of possibilities. As long as people enjoy Landon and his friends, I’ll keep writing more stories.

What made you decide to mix horror with humour?
I flipped a coin and it came up heads for humour. No, just kidding. It wasn’t a decision to mix in humour. Humour is part of who I am and I don’t think I could write about anything without mixing in humour. I wrote Landon as a character I would be friends with if I knew him in real life.

Have you got a bottle of something special set aside for when you receive the call about the Thurber Prize?
Aaah! The Thurber Prize! That would be the ultimate. Forget the Pulitzer, I want the Thurber Prize for American Humor. I haven’t planned the celebration yet. I’ll do that when I get nominated. Trust me, it will be a big celebration involving a champagne, a ballroom in New York City, all my blog subscribers, The Rock, and a fair amount of exotic animals.

You can find out more about Phil at these sites:
The Phil Factor
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter

An interview with author Reb Kreyling

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I seem to focus on a format for a while and not touch any others. Right now that means short stories. All the short stories! As I play with characters and ideas.

I haven’t done much with novels lately because my life is just crazy and I haven’t got sucked into the worlds. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just haven’t been sucked in.

My poetry is more a catharsis. I don’t really write it unless I need to get some feelings out. Or it was assigned in college.

Click.
I take your picture.
Laughing.
Your hair flying.
Your body dancing.

Click.
I take your picture.
Tears falling down.
Frowning smiles on your face.
Eyes cloudy–salt water clean.

Click.
I take your picture.
Hands raised in self-defense.
Black and blue.
Fear etched on your face.

Click.
I take your picture.
Calm.
Serene.
Finally at peace.

Click.
Photographs by Reb Kreyling

As for my blogging, it’s part of my way to get my name out to readers and I try to make it more of a conversation.

Apart from blogging, do you do anything else to promote your work?
Not at the moment. If I have a sale or something I post on Facebook. And I make comments on WDC, but I don’t have an author page anywhere. At some point I’ll do more, but not until I have more books published.

You refer to yourself as a life-long writer. What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Two things really.

I submitted what I thought was a really good, solid piece of writing to an editor. An editor I know and consider a friend. And she rejected it. What made it less hard? She didn’t know it was me until after it had been rejected (it was a blind submission).

The other is sometimes just finding time to write is sometimes a tricky balancing act.

When your submission was rejected by your editor friend, what did you do?
I’m going to revise it, although I haven’t yet. She’s actually offered a more in depth critique so I’m waiting to hear back. I’ve written a lot new since then including another story for submission to her–which also got rejected but I didn’t like it nearly as much. And yeah I did wallow around for a few days.

You primarily write science fiction and fantasy. What appeals to you most about those genres?
I like the escapist qualities of fantasy. I was always fascinated with mythology as a kid and a lot of my stories have that type of idea in them. And Narnia, oh I loved Narnia. So I always wanted a world like that to play in that was all my own.

As for science fiction, although I’m not as good at the hard science part, I enjoy the “what if…” idea of science fiction.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I wouldn’t say afraid to try or struggle with any genres. I’m willing to try anything once. Maybe. I’m not a huge fan of horror though. And although romance creeps into my stories, I wouldn’t say I write much romance. Because of my day job, you will probably never see any erotica under my name either. Not my real name anyway.

Do you read the same genres that you write in?
Absolutely! I won’t get any better if I don’t read in my chosen genre. And honestly I just read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
Life inspires me. Which sounds funny considering what I write, but it’s true. I get ideas from friends, conversations, prompts, teaching moments. Just life. I also sometimes just get ideas from letting my mind wander.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Hahhaaha. Do I have a favorite author? Come sit down and let me unroll the REAMS of authors I adore and explain why I have a Kindle now and why my moms banned me from buying books for a while. But seriously right now I would say my top four are Jasmine Walt, Pippa DaCosta, Jim Butcher, and Tanya Huff. Oh and Mercedes Lackey. My moms would say Dean Koontz, but I’ll counter with none of his recent work—he’s become too commercialized. So…five really; maybe six.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“You just write like you got words.” From a friend on WDC. Not very grammatically correct, but it amuses me and at the time got me to write. It often prompts me to keep writing and I actually have it as a wall hanging.

Other than that? My freshman year in high school, my English teacher was always very encouraging as was another teacher in middle school.

What drives you to be published?
I don’t know that I have a drive per se. I write because I need to. If I feel I edit it into enough shape, I share my babies with other people. Sometimes that means publishing.

What defines success for you as an author?
Having someone enjoy my work and telling me so.

Your published book – When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time – is marketed as a ‘comic retelling’ of a fairy tale. Tell us a little about it.

When the Prince Didn't Come in Time: (Sleeping Beauty) by [Kreyling, Reb]

I know this is supposed to start “once upon a time” but since it doesn’t end “happily ever after,” I’m not going to bother. I didn’t mean to kill her. Honestly that wasn’t my intention at all. I mean I grew up in the shadow of a great big hulking relic from another time. How was I supposed to know she was waiting for her prince to come? The stories never told us that. All they said was that she was asleep and would sleep for a hundred years. Can I help it that I hit that hormone driven age just as she hit those one hundred years? I’m telling you it seemed like a really good idea at the time. Sneak into the castle, kiss the princess; hey, instant wife or concubine or whatever.
When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time by Reb Kreyling

I can’t say too much or it gives away the whole thing but it’s based off a quote from the David Crosby/Phil Collins song Hero. And wonders what would happen if someone other than the prince kissed Sleeping Beauty. The narrator is a bit of a sarcastic smart mouth which is where the comedy comes in.

You can get When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time free on Smashwords until the end of July, or you can also buy it at Amazon.

You can also check out Reb’s blog and her Writing.com portfolio.