Welcome to the three hundred and fifty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction and short story author and novelist Philip Bradbury. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Philip. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Philip: I wrote stories at school and then gave up till I started again when I turned 40. I learned to meditate and, from the stillness, stories emerged, along with the hunger to write. So, I asked the editor of a New Age magazine to allow a male writer (me) to write for her magazine, for the first time. I badgered her once a month for a year and, eventually, she gave in and asked for one article. It had such an overwhelming response that I became a regular columnist for that and other magazines in three countries, for 12 years. Then friends badgered me (I got my own back!) to put the articles into a book and so it just went from there and I can’t stop the words.
Morgen: I know that feeling (it’s finding the time that’s the hard thing). But well done you for persevering. Many wouldn’t have done. What genre do you generally write?
Philip: Personal- and business-development. I started writing non-fiction (and still do) but have always felt that people learn easier and more happily through stories. So, I’ve written short stories and short novels and have just competed my first novel – the first novel ever written that’s based around A Course in Miracles.
The theme of my books is always about taking those scary, exciting and powerful actions towards that which makes our hearts sing.
Morgen: 🙂 I love that. What have you had published to-date?
Philip: Non Fiction
Stepping Out Of Debt And Into Financial Freedom
Conversations on Your Business
Whose Life Is It Anyway?
The Lawless Way
Change Your Mind, Change Your World (with Anna Bradbury)
The Meaning of Larf
Dactionary – the dictionary with attitude
Planting and Growing Your Business
An Olympic Challenge
The Royal Bank of Stories
Circles of Gold
Morgen: I love the sound of your dictionary with attitude. 🙂 Apart from your New Age hiccup, have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Philip: I have had over 200 rejections and, initially, it was a shock as I thought I was the only writer on the planet. Having got over that, I’ve almost come to believe that I will never be accepted by a publisher or writer’s agent and so have self-published.
Morgen: Yay! I only have 28 rejections to-date and I never say never but have gone my own way too. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Philip: Currently on the shortlist for the Amazon Breakthrough Award for 2012
Recent Writing Awards
March 2010 at http://bit.ly/cqqK5x
July 2010 at http://bit.ly/97oQga
August 2010 at http://bit.ly/aX1eLi
October 2010 at http://bit.ly/ae7eZS
January 2012 at http://bit.ly/wwi7QA
Morgen: Wow. It just goes to show that determination gets you places. So you don’t have an agent but do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Philip: I know it would be so helpful to have one as I’m a great writer but not a good marketer – marketing is what I need.
Morgen: But I find even authors with agents still have to do most of their marketing. Only one author I’ve interviewed so far has said they don’t do any but she’s active on Twitter and Facebook so she is indirectly. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Philip: All of my books are available as e-books (as well as paper-back) and I’ve never read an e-book.
Morgen: I’ve only recently bought a Kindle but I do like it. I only tend to use it on my travels (paper books at home) but I love knowing I have 400+ stories in my bag. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Philip: I like all of my characters, even the bullies – they’re real people to me. It would be nice to have a unknown actors play my characters so they would then have a chance to break through into stardom, just as I would love to as a writer … we’d be breaking through together.
Morgen: 🙂 Presumably being self-published you chose the title / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Philip: Yes, although it would be good to have someone else outside of me, someone who knows the marketing better than I do. I don’t know how important the titles / covers are but I am sure they help in some way.
Morgen: An attention-grabber, I think. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Philip: Currently writing two novels – Wrong Place, Wrong Time is set in mid-USA and is about a young city woman caught in bizarre circumstances in a small town with no apparent way out.
The second, Expulsion, is based in London and Egypt and is the story of a young man made redundant from a bank and who then finds his ex-employer has been diverting large amounts of funds to finance corrupt regimes in Africa … loosely based on my own experiences of being made redundant from a London bank.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Philip: Not every day and, yes, I do get writers block. I write about five days a week and find that stressing over writers block only makes it worse. I take time out, go for a walk, a coffee or a meditation … be still (inwardly) in some way and the words return.
Morgen: That’s what most authors say. I think our brains need a change of scene… literally. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Philip: I’d dearly love to be able to create the bones of a story from start to finish and then to write the flesh onto those bones. However, to date, I just get a sentence in my head, write it down and the next arrives and so on – I have no idea what I’m going to write until it’s on paper.
Morgen: Oh but I love that… when the characters take over. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Philip: I try to make my characters believable so that people will identify with them and, therefore, will feel inspired to take the steps in their lives that my characters do. So it’s a fine balance between giving them names, characteristics and actions that are memorable and also believable.
Morgen: Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Philip: Yes, all three.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Philip: I usually try to edit it but, in the end, I seem to return to the original words and punctuation that first appeared on paper. My wife then edits the final draft and she sees it as a reader does and so I then have to refine things to make it more readable from that point of view.
Morgen: A second opinion is vital isn’t it because we know what we mean. Do you have to do much research?
Philip: I haven’t done much in the past as most of my writing is from my own life experiences … well, perhaps that is my research! However, for Expulsion and Wrong Time, Wrong Place I am doing much more research than ever before as they’re getting further from my life experiences.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Philip: I normally use third person and have never tried second … I had never heard of it till this question!
Morgen: Oh yay! I’m so passionate about it that I created a page on this blog just on that topic. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Philip: Perhaps. However, since it’s easier to publish nowadays – and free to get books into Amazon and out as e-books – most of my completed books end up in the marketplace. Some of my poetry and songs are less marketable and so they may not enter the public domain. Be good if they did though!
Morgen: There’s a constant debate over quality vs quantity but we can never please everyone. One of my short stories (April’s Fool) had one complaint that it was too skimpy on the details but another saying there was too much detail. Sometimes you just can’t win. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Philip: Least favourite – Marketing. I just feel as if I don’t have the skills for that and having an agent and/or publisher would certainly help with that.
Favourite – the feeling of having created some inspiring words. I get that five days a week.
Surprise – One person told me that my writing had stopped her committing suicide and started her really living and several people have told me it has changed their lives by giving them skills, ideas and confidence to do what they had previously feared (but wanted) to do.
Morgen: Wow. Saving a life has got to be the highest accolade. Being heard of by a random stranger at a party in the US (as told to me by a blog contributor) has been my kudos so far. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Philip: Listen to all the advice, let it go and then listen to the song in your heart. And, if you find it impossible not to write, never, ever, ever give up.
Morgen: I won’t be. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Philip: Mark Twain (for his humour), Paulo Coelho (for his persistence) and Jesus (for his forgiveness) – and I don’t know what I’d cook as I’m sure they’re all above being picky about what to eat. Their lives are bigger than that. If I was in New Zealand, where the sun shines, I’d invite them around for a BYO barbeque and there’d be nice surprises about what food they brought.
Morgen: If you have a BYO you can’t have any complaints. 🙂 Is there a quote you like?
Philip: They told me that when I got older I’d lose my mind. What they didn’t tell me was that I wouldn’t miss it much ~ Somerset Maugham
Life is a series of opportunities, neatly disguised as problems – not sure who said that.
Morgen: According to http://www.freewebs.com/strengthingod/inspirationalquotes.htm it’s Charles Swindoll. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Philip: Teaching new writers how to write and how to publish. I also publish books for other people and I’m a commissioning editor for O-Books.
Morgen: Ah, publishing and editing… I have questionnaires for publishers and editors… I should have you back. 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?
Philip: Travel, teaching and A Course in Miracles.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Philip: LinkedIn has many writing and publishing groups – usually helpful and experienced writers there.
Morgen: Isn’t it great. A few weeks ago I’d almost run out of interviewees so I put shout-outs on LinkedIn and am now booking into October! Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Philip: On several Linked In groups, www.thenextbigauthor.com, Goodreads and several other groups. Nothing tangible (i.e. money) has come of any of these groups but I find it comforting and uplifting to be surrounded by my fellow writers. And, sometimes, they tell me about writing competitions (which I always enter) or feature me in their blogs!
Morgen: They do say it’s not what you know but who. I have a competitions page here and am gradually adding to it. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Philip: Much as it always has – a changing world, a quickly changing technology and more writers than books. What’s different is that writers have more apparent choices and can get their books to markets far quicker than ever before. What is the same is that the books still have to appeal to a discerning and unfathomable reading public.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Plenty of choice. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Philip: You run a successful writing group. How did you get it started and what makes it so successful?
Morgen: 🙂 I picked it up where crime novelist Sally Spedding took off. She was leading an evening class at the local university. I’d attended for a couple of years when she announced she was moving to Wales. I volunteered to take her place and we’ve been going over since (just celebrated our fourth anniversary). We’re lucky that we have great people. We can be firm but fair and it works really well. I still keep in contact with Sally and she sees some of us at conferences… it’s great. Thank you, Philip.
I then invited Philip to include an extract of his writing and this is the start of ‘Wrong Time, Wrong Place’…
Feeling like a dice tossed from the gnarled hand of a mad gambler, she wondered how she’d ended up here. She always took the main route, the quickest road. Always. Just this once, for some stupid reason, she took the scenic route. Why? Well, here she was and no going back. She let her annoyance slide out under the door.
She knew she could have turned around and walked out. She could have, well, just walked round the corner, down the street, and found a shop or café with a toilet. Or she could have hopped right back in her car and driven to the next nowhere town, wherever it was. Or taken a drive and a walk and found some trees. Just have a pee somewhere else, like she’d never been here. No one had seen her come in. No one would notice her leave. No should haves. Just could haves.
Anyway, as it happened, she did none of those things. She just stood there, leaning back against the basin, looking at the person sitting on the floor. Straight, blonde hair slightly awry, like a breeze had played with it momentarily. One eye closed, the other glazed and staring at the grey, cinder-block wall opposite; the one Kristy had her back to. Her skin looked vacant, unlived in, like she had left without a note of goodbye.
With 14 books published, Philip aims to be a writer who is read and respected worldwide, before he slips into “Father Time’s withered hand”.
He is a recovering accountant / lecturer who has been a columnist, editor and publisher of magazines in NZ, Aust., South Africa and Czech Republic. He’s currently a commissioning editor for Business Books and a freelance writer and editor for clients around the world.
In New Zealand, he experienced life as an accountant, credit manager, company director, shepherd, scrub-cutter, tree pruner, freezing worker, factory worker, saxophonist, army driver, tour bus driver, stage and television actor and singer, builder, lecturer, facilitator for men’s groups, reporter, columnist, editor, publisher, writer, and in South Africa as an AIDS workshop co-facilitator. In the Australian bush he was a barman, horse and camel trekker and stock-whip teacher, and in England as an accountant, corporate trainer, estate manager, university lecturer, commissioning editor, website editor and freelance writer.
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