An Interview with Author Gin Phillips

Gin Phillips, author of Fierce Kingdom, was kind enough to participate in a short interview.  This is what she had to say...

1) What drives you to write?

Joy, I suppose.  It is an amazing thing, I think, to have a job where people pay you to make things up. I love the blank page—I love the start of a story where everything is possible. I love creating the world and feeling the characters start to think and breathe. 

2) What are your tips for building suspense?

Fierce Kingdom is a book where I think the tension comes not so much from plot twists or chase scenes—although those are certainly there—but from the fact that the reader cares about the characters. For all its thriller trappings, it’s a book about character and relationships. The most crucial part of the book for me was to make Joan and Lincoln feel three-dimensional enough—REAL enough—that the reader felt invested in every footstep and every unexpected sound. And yet there’s a lot of forward momentum in the book that I didn’t want to slow down. I enjoyed that challenge: How do you develop character in the shortest strokes possible? How do you make every detail count? To me, for any book to work, the characters have to work. I have to care. And so I think the question of suspense always has to be viewed through the lens of character.

3) What advice would you offer young readers?

Have fun. Read for fun. Even if you have to read stuff you don’t like in school, make time to read the fun stuff on your own…whatever the fun stuff is for you.  I think too many kids love reading in their early years and then get that love squelched as they get older.

4) What advice would you offer young writers?

Write. And write some more. Every day. For some amount of time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it—inspiration is highly overrated. Writing is like anything else in that to get better at it, you have to practice. So sit down at your computer, open a file, and start typing. Maybe what you write is terrible. Maybe you get one sentence that’s decent out of an hour’s work. But maybe you sit down, and your reluctance slips away, and you fall pell-mell into your story and stay up all night hammering away. You don’t know until you actually sit down and get started.

5)  What are you reading and writing now?

I’ve just finished Eudora Welty’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, which was stunning. I’m about halfway through the second novel in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. This whole summer I’ve been reading all the Penelope Lively and Elizabeth Strout that I can get my hands on. As for writing, I'm working on a novel set in the early 1900s at a Utopian colony in Alabama—the story follows a boy and girl who grow up in the colony. I’m fascinated by Utopian colonies, by the idea of creating heaven on earth.

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