C.T. -- or "Charles," as I know him -- has long been a mentor and supporter of mine. He is as generous as he is prolific. And he's (expletive deleted) prolific. The guy writes more in a day than I do in a month. Sometimes, he works on multiple novels at once, just to taunt the rest of us mere mortals.
And if you haven't sampled his books, haven't visited the Phippsiverse (okay, I don't think that'll catch on...), you have missed out. Although he writes across multiple genres -- fantasy, horror, sci-fi, thriller, etc. -- his works tend to be rich in humor, puns of every sort imaginable, frequent snark, and enough pop culture references to choke a TikTok influencer.
I am never bored reading his stuff. Never.
So, I thought I'd drag him in here for an interview and give you a glimpse into his weird little world.
1. Okay, Charles, let’s do this! What did you want to be when you were 8?
I was already thinking about becoming a writer. Then an archaeologist because of Indiana Jones. Then a submarine captain.
2. What was your favorite book as a child?
3. Did you ever have recurring nightmares? Or just an especially bad one? Tell me about it/them.
I once had a dream where I was killed by a boat propeller.
4. You have a particular soft spot for Cthulhu mythos. What’s the most morbid thing you ever witnessed as a child? Did it intrigue or repulse you? If it intrigued you, did you ever think, “Hmmm, maybe I’m not normal?”
My family owns a lot of funeral homes so I think my definition of morbid is very different from most people's. Death has always just been a part of life for me.
5. What’s the problem with haunted houses?
They're not year-round.
6. You also write fantasy. What’s the first fantasy book you ever remember reading?
The Hobbit (see above). But I only got into fantasy full-time around my 14th year when I read Dragonlance Legends and Heir to the Empire.
7. Which classic fantasy book or series should have ended differently?
Gandalf the Gray should have stayed dead, forcing the characters to muddle along without him or Aragon should have stepped up.
8. Whose sword would you rather wield, Elric’s, Anomander Rake’s, Aragorn’s (or other) and why?
Stormbringer isn't to be trusted, Narsil isn't cool enough, or I'm not aware of the other. I'd say Anakin or Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. Probably the latter because it didn't kill any younglings.
9. I feel like we all have a love-hate relationship with tropes. Which are your favorites, which are your most hated?
I love tropes and think of them as tools rather than crutches. My favorite tropes are those of antiheroes and sliding scales of morality. My least favorite are those dealing with destiny and chosen ones.
You subvert more than a few of these in your writing. Tell me about that.
I feel like it's always good to keep your audience guessing. I'm much more interested in the farm boy who thinks he's the Chosen One, only to find out that, no, there was no Chosen One and the prophecy was made by the bad guy to keep people sending suicide soldiers after him than I am for a straight narrative.
Is writer’s advice too personal to be useful? Like, are Hemingway and Stephen King’s suggestions bullshit?
Funny you should ask, "On Writing" was what finally allowed me to get off my ass and start creating.
What is the darkest fantasy-style entrée for dinner? In fact, let’s go around the table – What is the Paladin eating? The Rogue? The Mage? The Ranger? The Barbarian? The Cleric?
I dunno if the paladin, rogue, or mage is tastier. Depends on the species, really.
Approximately how many seconds have you spent wishing you were Amish?
My ideal society is a cyberpunk or space opera one. I would be dead in minutes.
Do you do your best writing:
a. In the shower
b. Right before you fall asleep
d. In a fog of hallucinogens
When I'm at a restaraunt, writing while I wait for my meal. Also, in bed when my wife is asleep. It's all about being alone with your thoughts.
You write across a lot of genres. Is there one you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t got around to yet?
As long as I can write superheroes, cyberpunk, and urban fantasy, I'm good. Oh and post-apocalypse Cthulhu, regular fantasy...
Many of your protagonists have multiple lovers. You write what you know, right?
My wife would heavily disagree. However, I do write characters who often live on the edge of societal taboos and I've always been fascinated with unconventional relationships. Free love in the future and fantasy worlds seems appropriate to me. After all, our world's values shouldn't dictate another one's.
Plotter, Pantser or Hybrid?
I meticulously plot out my books then my characters smash them to pieces.
Morning or Night
I prefer night until they come up with something darker.
Write with or without music?
Heavy metal, cyberpunk music, and Eighties rock.
Do you have a mentor? Who has been most helpful?
David Niall Wilson (This is my Blood, Dechance Chronicles) AKA the head of Crossroad Press really did lead me through the minefield that was my early years of publishing. I think authors have a duty to pass on their hard-earned lessons if they can. I got luckier than most.
I find that a lot of creators have multiple talents – actors who can play an instrument, photographers who are poets, dancers who can sing…what are YOUR hidden talents?
Nope. My genius is free for all to see in all areas.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a promoter of fellow authors as well as genres that could deserve some more credit (cyberpunk especially).
What should we all do with your remains?
As the Klingons believe, whatever, it's just a shell.
Who are some other authors to whom you’d like to give a shout-out?
My cyberpunk peeps of SC Jensen (Bubbles in Space), Eric Malikyte (Ego Trip), Jon Richter (Auxillary: London 2039), Wesley Cross (The Blueprint), MK Gibson (Technomancer), Brian Parker (The Immortaity Clause), Luke Hindmarsh (Mercury's Son), and ARVekt (Craig Lea Gordon).
If you want to check out C.T.'s work, you can start here.