Please welcome Phyllis – as you can see she is a prolific author!
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. It’s all I really want to do. Once I sit down and start, I don’t want to stop. It’s what I think about when I’m doing other things. Characters talk to me while I’m moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer or unloading the dishwasher.
- What is your writing Kryptonite?
My characters drive me. Once I have their name down on paper, these people and animals lead the way. Sometimes they do things I didn’t anticipate, and they are always right.
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I briefly considered a pseudonym, but decided against it. My thoughts were, I wanted readers to know me personally and I didn’t think that would be possible if I didn’t use my name.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have virtual writer friends and a few mentors. Social media groups are the place I get the most assistance. I have found other writers to be a generous lot, willing to share their failures and expertise.
- Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Currently I have a series of books that could stand alone, but they are based on the same coming of age of the main character, Sabine. The four book series follows her from age four, living in severe neglect with her mentally ill, alcoholic mother, to the age of sixteen. These were the first books I wrote. I only intended to write about Sabine as a child, but I couldn’t stop. I have five other stand alone novels, a pair of middle grade books, an anthology of short stories (a little spooky), and a non-fiction book on retirement. I have learned I am a story teller first and my stories are not always related, so I have no desire for my books to be tied to each other.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
First, I would say editing is the best money spent and second is the money I’ve spent on BookBub promotional deals. I say this because the BookBub deals have garnered reviews.
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My paternal grandparents used to tell me stories and read to me. I remember picturing images from their words. I could literally see the fairies and beasts in their stories. I think that was my earliest experience, the knowledge I could see what they spoke.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I like historical fiction, and I think my favorite was Cleopatra, by Stacy Shiff. I could visualize the palaces, her clothing, the ships, everything described. It takes me back to the time and place.
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A dog would be my spirit animal. All of my characters have pets. Many of them communicate with their pets. I think we all do that to a certain extent, but my very first character, Sabine, was psychic. Her dog, Auggie, was her only confidant. When Sabine missed human cues, Auggie could help her. For me, that was a metaphor of what we take for granted with animals every day.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
One book unfinished. I have a rough draft and a few rereads. I hope to get it to the editor in February to publish in late spring. I have a cover and the title is Birdie & Jude.
- What does literary success look like to you?
Success for me would be people reading my books and enjoying the story. I hope readers can take away something they can apply to their own lives. I love it when readers say they feel like they know my characters or can identify with a place. When I hear that I know I did a good job.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Characters inspire my stories, so I get to know them first. If they take me to a time I’m not familiar with, I do some research on what appliances, vehicles, clothing, etc. were common. Often, the book is set in a time I’m familiar with. My novel, And the Day Came, was set in the 1930’s, so I read about the history of some of the families in the story. It is historical fiction based on the childhood of my mother-in-law. There were other books written about the family, so I took some time to read those. That was the most time consuming research I’ve done.
- How many hours a day/week do you write?
I write most of the day and sometimes late into the night. I would say I write about 6 to 8 hours/day. Sometimes my time is blurred between writing and promotion. I spend a lot of time on the computer doing blogs, newsletters, submitting short stories, etc.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
Selecting names is a challenge. I have to admit I gravitate toward short names, so I don’t have to type so many letters when I’m writing the story. One of my editors criticized a name choice once, but I refused to change it. The young girl’s name was Beatrice. She was a minor character. I live in south Texas. Growing up, I had many Latina friends. Some of my best friends were Veronica, Beatrice, Norma Linda, Mary Helen, etc. The book, The Bright Shawl, begins in San Antonio and ends in Galveston. It would have been perfectly normal for a female to be names Beatrice. However, if she had been the main character, I might have given her the nickname, Bea. I like Pinterest and pin many inspirations there for my books. I have a board for every book. If I’m looking for a name, I do a search on Pinterest. There are wonderful categories, Bohemian, Hollywood, Biblical, etc. Pinterest is a great source for names for humans and animals. I used Pinterest to name the horses in Secrets of Dunn House.
- What was your hardest scene to write?
I had to think about this one. I think transition scenes where there is not much emotion or description. It’s hard to come up with a new way to describe the mundane. I don’t do romance, so that would probably be hard for me to write.
- Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
My experience, my age, and my characters dictate my genre. I wrote first and then decided on the genre. I lean toward southern gothic, but the more I write, the more I think my books are generally Women’s Fiction. I’m aware I’m not the traditionally branded author where all of my books are linked by an atmosphere, font, cover, etc. They reflect me and the issues that concern me at the time. As I learn more, I try to do a better job of branding those things and one of these days I may have a more professional look. I have done some do-overs to tie things together. It does look better on the shelf. I’m a work in progress.
- How long have you been writing?
I have been writing all my life, but not stories or books. I didn’t start trying to market what I wrote until about six years ago.
- What inspires you?
I like to people watch and I always find things to apply to my characters. This past August, we had a hurricane in Texas, Harvey. Some of the situations I watched on television and read about in the newspaper inspired the story in Birdie & Jude. I started thinking about people who get stranded due to unpredictable circumstances and meet other people they become attached to. It’s not a literal story, but a “what if” that I think about in those types of situations. I have been through a few hurricanes, so the details were easy for me to get in touch with. It’s interesting when I look back at other stories to see how much weather inspires me. My short story, Audrey and the Summer of Storms was inspired by spending summers in the Texas panhandle with my grandparents. They had to deal with tornadoes. There was a summer when I returned from several trips to the storm shelter in Quanah to my home near Corpus Christi to face Hurricane Carla. I can find inspiration in most anything. Houses, food, fabrics, animals, travel, illness. It’s never ending.
- How do you find or make time to write?
I’m lucky because I’m old enough to be retired. Because I’m old, I have many life experiences to draw on and lots of time to think about them. My normal routine is to write most of the day after I’ve finished my few chores. During holidays, I get a little resentful that there are other demands on my time. Writing is my priority and I’m lucky to be able to do it most of the time.
- What projects are you working on at the present?
My current project is Birdie & Jude. As I said it was inspired by Hurricane Harvey, but it’s also about the relationship that grows between two women from very different backgrounds. They connect because of their differences, but also because they have the same insecurities and desires. One rejects her family and social status, while the other longs for family and a stable home and friends. One is elderly and healthy as a horse and the other is young a medically fragile. However, as in real life, there is a spirit that unites them and it’s not what they might guess.
- What do your plans for future projects include?
I would like to begin writing something to release around the holidays, 2018. I love a good holiday story. Opal’s Story, my best-selling novel. Culminates in a Thanksgiving celebration. Josephine’s Journals takes place during preparations for a holiday open house. I like to decorate using the accoutrements in my imagination. They are free, after all, and I can rummage around in someone else’s attic and polish the silver without getting my hands dirty. I can also order someone else to do it if I’m that character. I can be sweet, or a real “you know what”. It’s the most fun, like playing house and mud pies.
- Share a link to your author website. http://www.phyllishmoore.com
Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it and reading about it. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Trilogy, Sabine, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her web site http://www.phyllishmoore.com. Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.
Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.