Welcome to the seven hundred and third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with Phil Harvey. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Phil Harvey is an award-winning author, philanthropist and libertarian whose stories won a prize from Antietam Review and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His dark fiction and controversial ideas have broadened debate on violent entertainment, relationships and sexuality. At the core of his fiction stand the motives, methods and goals of the characters. Here he talks about his latest novel Show Time and the release of three new collections: Wisdom of Fools: Stories of Extraordinary Lives, Devotional: Erotic Stories for the Sensual Mind, and Across the Water: Tales of the Human Heart.
Morgen: Your three new books are collections of short stories in which characters touch something important in themselves or in others. Please tell us more.
Phil: The centerpiece of my fiction is always the individual. I like to put characters in demanding physical / psychological settings that force them to respond. Frankly this saves work and imagination because some responses are fore-ordained. Other ideas come from experience. Fly fishing. Sex. Upbringing. And so on. Some ideas even spring from other books. Really, the stories run the gambit. A few end in death, one in time travel, a few in redemption.
Show Time engages with seven people and their idiosyncrasies, lust, belligerence, and desire to survive. How they are attracted to each other, how they fight with each other, how they sometimes undermine and then strengthen each other. They boil, they confer, they fight, they make love — but overall, they must survive. For all my characters, life goes on but is changed.
Morgen: Your novel Show Time novel challenges seven reality show contestants with the possibility of starvation or freezing to death. Sounds like my kind of book. :)
Phil: My book explores the use of violence and death as entertainment. We already have real-world examples like the potential fatal violence that helps fuel the popularity of car racing. We like violence. It fascinates us. That’s why it leads the news every night. My idea is that policymakers someday will, perhaps without knowing it, encourage certain kinds of violence to keep people satisfied. Presidents like wars—even though they won’t admit it. Wars unify us. We always support the troops. So deliberate steps to encourage controlled violence are not so farfetched.
Morgen: Your fiction is occasionally threaded with darker impulses. Why delve into the shadow side?