Wow its the weekend already? I can’t believe this week went so fast. To help you through the weekend I got multi-genre author Phillip Kessler to sit down with me for an interview. Hope you enjoy getting to know him. Happy reading :).
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m originally from a rural community on the High Plains of Northeastern Colorado, but I spent much of my youth in small towns in Southeastern Nebraska. Not much of a difference, really. Growing up in the country and in small towns gave me plenty of time to read books of all sorts. I actually learned how to read and write through books that were published in the UK. Made things fun in school when I was told I was spelling colour wrong.
My young adult life took me to Iowa and Minnesota with side trips to Nevada, California, and Florida. I’m not well-traveled, but I have read books that have put me into different parts of the world, the universe, or somewhere outside the realm of reality.
I’m still in Southeast Nebraska, living a stone’s throw from the capitol building in Lincoln. An area filled with ghost stories and a unique history. Going under the streets of this part of the city (several small towns that were later incorporated, are deep tunnels that were built by the Masons that go from the capitol to the governor’s mansion to the various Masonic Lodges, and even to the Regional Center (a facility for the criminally insane) and the medium security prison on the edge of Lincoln.
All great fodder for my main series Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings.
What genre do you write in? Why?
I’m a multi-genre author. I spend most of my time in the broad genre of fantasy – urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, sci-fi fantasy, and more. I have two fiction pen names that dabble in historical fiction, romance, mystery, and erotica, but I’ll leave those for another time.
I love the idea of being able to pick up a book (or an ereader) and escape into a world that isn’t like our own, or maybe just a little different from our own. Diving into the crystal caves of Mary Stewart’s interpretation of the Authurian legends or snuggling up with a smexy vampire from the Vampire Academy are great ways to put aside the duldrums and stresses of everyday life. If I can help another reader do the same, then I have reached that part of my writing goal.
What inspired you to become an author?
All these stories floating around in my head. That’s the simple answer. I have characters nagging me to tell their tales, to make them come to life. And, oh the stories they have to tell! Elaine and Sandra from DotMNB are constantly vying for my time and get unhappy when I spend time with the futuristic Romans and Greeks of Station Zeta or the multi-cultural crew of the R.S. Pinnacle. Then there are the demons and angels plotting to overthrow the status quo (first installment just released in Feathers & Fiends from Stained Glass Publishing, “Principia Bellum”).
Needless to say, the characters living inside my head provide plenty of inspiration. But they aren’t the only ones. My real life Muse throws plenty of fuel on the fire. Rare is the conversation we have that doesn’t spawn another story or article idea – I also write spiritual nonfiction under yet another pen name.
If I could just live with the characters and ideas in my head and be successful enough to not work for “the man,” I would be set.
What is your writing process like?
There’s a process? No, really?
In all seriousness,,, When the characters of a particular story battle their way through the morass of my cluttered mind and demand loudly that I write their stories, then I write. I clean the desk of whatever else I have been doing and set to it.
Strong coffee and ice cold water at hand, a source of nicotine (I’ve been vaping in an attempt to quit smoking – no lectures please), a good soundtrack, and my furbabies contentedly sleeping nearby. Then, I am ready to write. How often do all those things fall into the perfect place? Almost never.
So, then I will push things aside, guzzle a pot of coffee, and barrel through without sleep to bring the characters to life on the screen. The sacrifices that authors will make for their characters and their stories!
Do you have any strange quirks you do while you write a book?
Non-authors think most authors are strange and quirky. If I had to say something I do while writing is a quirk, strange or not, I would have to say that my ability to shut out almost everything around me – save for the cats – is one of them. I can ignore the phone, Facebook, even the herd of elephants (children) running around in the upstairs apartment.
Unlike many authors I know, I often write with a TV series or movie playing in the background. I can filter the “distraction” of the story on the TV into a compartment of my mind while the words flow out through my fingers to relate the story of the character(s) that are most vocal in the rest of my mind.
Oh, and speaking of the cats! The youngest, my mostly black tuxedo male named Jonathan Renfield Bedlam (gee, wonder where I came up with those names), demands attention when I am glued to the computer writing. He’ll drag his favorite toy up onto the desk and drop it on the keyboard or push the mouse from under my hand while I am editing. To entertain him, and give myself something to chuckle about, I will stick that favorite toy under me and let the streamers hang to the floor. He’s happy to play with the streamers and I am able to work. We’re both happy – for a time. And then he’ll be back up on the desk flopping onto the keyboard. “Pay attention to me!”
How did you come up with the story within your books? What inspired your creativity?
Backfire, the first book in the Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings series started out as a short story for a Pagan fiction collection. I admittedly missed my deadline (I’d write a book on procrastination, but I’d never get around to finishing it) and shelved it for almost entire year. I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed. A friend suggested that I finish the story – an allegorical tale of what can happen when someone does magick for another without their permission. The two page sketch of a story quickly turned into a short novel – in three weeks!
Sandra and Elaine came to life for me. On the screen and in my head. They became nearly as real to me as the people around me (wait, I was hermitting in my apartment and not being around real people). That short novel went live on Amazon on April 1, 2017. One month later, the second book was published.
Yes, that’s right. Only a month later. It took a few months to write the third book, but I was feeling really good about my creativity and ability to tell a story by the end of August 2017. Three novels in six months! Wow!
Book four is still in process, two years after the third one went live. Why? So many other ideas! But Sandra and Elaine’s story will continue! There is so much still in store for them and their motley crew of friends and allies.
What authors inspired you to write your own book?
My friend who encouraged me to finish Backfire. She’s a published author as well. We may no longer be in contact (long story that doesn’t deserve being told here), but if it weren’t for her push, I doubt I would have ever finished that first story in Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings.
Fellow small-trad and indie authors like Asaph Mehr, Diane Morrison, Andy Peloquin, and so many more. All of those who I met prior to publishing Backfire and all those I have met since. They are all inspirations in their own way. Some of them, not just those named, have become good friends.
And my Muse. Without her, I would have become discouraged in the process. She reminds me that writing is more than a job, it is a calling for some. And for me, that is what it is. A calling.
Are you Indie Published or Traditional? Why did you choose this route?
My Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings series is technically indie published – originally. I moved into the publishing world myself shortly after the third book was launched. I have published short stories for others and am in negotiations with other authors to publish their books under my publishing house of Saturn Returns Publishing. I’ve also had more traditional publishing experience with my spiritual nonfiction projects. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Moon Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing in the UK (full circle, eh?).
I chose to self publish because I didn’t feel that a mainstream publisher would be interested in my stuff. But I knew there was a market for it. That, and I don’t have the patience to work with big named publishers who drag the process out much longer than I feel it needs to be. I guess I made a good choice. Though the advertising budget is almost nothing, I enjoy doing the legwork to get my works out there and in front of the readers. I enjoy the one on one with fellow small and indie authors. There may be drama from time to time, but I have built some strong relationships with my fellow authors and even other small publishers.
What should we expect from you in the coming months?
As an author, I have several short stories due out by the end of this year. Including some horror and paranormal romance. I hope to complete book four in DotMNB in time for the holidays and finish that part of the story before diving into more new adventures for the ladies and their cohort.
The collaborative RP novel “Legacy of a Corrupted Mind” is due out October 7th. Legacy is a role-play novel collaboration between myself and nine other authors, including the mastermind behind the project Lianne Willowmoon. We’re gearing up for a big release celebration in Baltimore, MD at the gravesite of Edgar Allan Poe, who inspired all the characters in the two volume novel. Legacy is on pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite online ebook retailers and will be available in paperback in early October with a special limited edition hardcover edition.
As a publisher, a number of anthologies are scheduled to come out by the end of the year. A merfolk collection, queer horror stories, and more.
What is the one thing you want to say to your readers?
I want to say “buy my books!” Every author wants to say that. But in all seriousness, after you buy AND read my book, leave a review, share your thoughts with your friends, tell me what you liked or didn’t like. And keep coming back for more! I write as a calling, but part of that calling is sharing my thoughts, my stories, my ideas, with those who want to read them.
Philipp J. Kessler is an author, blogger, and radio/podcast personality. His Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings series launched his fiction career in 2017. He’s been published in several nonfiction and fiction anthologies including Feathers & Fiends from Stained Glass Publishing and Technology Gone Mad from Saturn Returns Publishing and the Pagan Leadership Anthology from Immanion Press/MegaLithica Books. He can be heard on KZUM-Lincoln 89.3FM Sunday mornings from 9am to noon Central and on the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel. He resides in Lincoln, NE with his two cats and a horde of books and music. He also runs his own publishing label and editing services through Saturn Returns Publishing. Find out more about him by searching RevKess on your favorite browser or most social networks.
Connect with the Author
It was a simple protection spell, what could possibly go wrong? Everything and then some!
Sandra Blackwell wants to help her friend find peace and protection after a nasty break up. Little did she know that Elaine’s home was already under protection – if you call flickering lights and depression protection. After the bulbs begin to blow and they realize something has backfired, they battle their own mental and emotional demons to fix what Sandra did. Two Egyptian Gods play with Sandra’s understanding of who she is and Elaine is floating in her own personal limbo after the blow up of her relationship and the backfire of a well intentioned spell. Can they fix things without it all blow up in their faces?
The first in a series of stories following Sandra and Elaine, Backfire introduces the characters and establishes their life together. Friends since middle school, the two are now getting established in their careers. Magick, love, and unexpected happenings follow them all over the place.