This Author Spotlight
Author of EDEN
Book 3 of THE UNION SERIES
I don't know about you guys, but military fiction and military science fiction really get to me. There is something about it that is difficult to describe. When I come across a writer who was, or still is, active duty, and who writes about it, I pay attention. It's a glimpse into a world most of us will never know, populated by larger-than-life characters caught in larger-than-life situations. There is often something powerful to behold there as well.
I write military science fiction, using the genre as a means to reflect upon aspects of my service within the British Army. I have served in the army for over thirteen years, so I have a great deal to talk about, but because I am still serving I can’t really write anything factual for legal reasons that I won’t get into.
I use my military experience to blend realism with the genre, by using military doctrine to understand how concept weapons and equipment are best employed, their advantages and disadvantages, but also by understanding how it actually feels to be there and witness conflict first hand. I feel this is where I stand out amongst the crowd. In a few hundred years half of the weapons my characters employ may not exist, but war will never be viewed through rose tinted spectacles. It will always be hell.
3. When EDEN is adapted to film, and the producers ask for your dream cast, what will you say?
Well, we can but hope can’t we? I’m going to be boring here, because I’m sure everyone would love to have their favorite actors. Tom Cruise for the lead role, Leonardo de Caprio and maybe Bruce Willis… No, I wouldn’t want a film to be cast driven. I would much prefer to have fresh, upcoming actors to give it a unique and believable feel. The problem with having famous actors, in my opinion, is that they make a film appear even less believable because you know who they are, and their private lives off the film set. My work specializes in being different, as well as believable- as much as military science fiction can be- so I think it would need a fresh cast.
4. Stephen King often makes a cameo in films adapted from his work. Stan Lee is also enjoying doing so these days. What supporting role would you like to play in the film adaptation of EDEN?
Hmmm… Supporting role… now that would be funny, and weird! The main character is actually me… at least the way he thinks, talks and acts, but clearly I couldn’t be him! I wouldn’t mind being Andy’s Sergeant Major, who is a rather mean and unpleasant man to work with. I’m a platoon sergeant myself these days, so being mean and unpleasant can come pretty easy at times!
5. For a writer, word of mouth is everything. What was the last book you read that you enjoyed so much that you wanted to share it with everyone you know?
It has to be the Sharpe series written by Bernard Cromwell. I absolutely love his books, so much so that I have read many of them twice. He blends his deep understanding of the Napoleonic era with a gripping, action packed storyline. Anybody who likes my books and doesn’t mind trading magnetic rifles for muskets should read his work.
Eden is indeed part of a series, though not because I chose to follow trends. Like many other military fiction novels it works as part of a series because life in the military isn’t a short, isolated incident. My own service in the army, as an example, has taken me from young terrified recruit to veteran platoon sergeant with a short temper over a period of thirteen years, and I could write and talk about my experiences for a long, long time! I don’t really know how many books I will finish the series on, but there is easily scope for another two or three. Andy Moralee has yet to promote to Corporal and then Sergeant before he catches up with me, and the war on Eden is far from finished. Then there is the uprising that simmers back on New Earth…
I am almost always at work! My inspiration often comes from the men I see working around me, their thoughts, their experiences and their fears. I always think it funny when somebody says ‘soldiers would react to a situation like that’ or ‘they wouldn’t talk like that’. Some of the things that happen in my books actually did happen, and that’s exactly how they reacted!
8. Brett Easton Ellis once said, “Do not write a novel for praise. Write for yourself; work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.” Indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has said that it messed with her head a bit when she realized so many people were going to read the books she’s now writing. Now that Phillip Richards is rapidly gaining recognition in the publishing world, has an established fan base anticipating his next novel, and is being talked about in the highly-reverent third person, will reader expectation influence how and/or what he writes? Or will he hold to Ellis’ suggestion?
I totally agree with Brett. No matter how much you might want fame and fortune, no matter how driven you are, if you aren’t writing about something you care about then you will never write well, and this is most definitely true with fiction. If I didn’t enjoy writing then I simply couldn’t do it. If my readers made a suggestion- and I liked it- then I would attempt to include that suggestion, but if I didn’t like the idea then I wouldn’t do it. Readers pick their author, authors don’t pick their readers.
9. The world of Indie authors is the new slush pile. What are you going to say/do when a traditional New York publisher and/or agent contacts you and asks for a meeting?
It has been suggested to me a couple of times to contact a traditional publisher, but I haven’t yet done so. I like being an indie author. I don’t work to deadlines (except when I impose them upon myself!) and I write what I want to write without anybody apart from my editor- and maybe my mum- making any input whatsoever! It’s a very liberating experience, both for me and for my readers. As for the slush pile, how many wonderful books may have fallen into the gutter, simply because a traditional publishing house didn’t want to take the risk? In my belief it is the indie author- not the publishing house- that will keep the book industry alive.
10. Someone once said, and it may have been my dad, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Where do you want your writing career to be in five years’ time?
At the moment I still consider writing to be a hobby that I’m very passionate about, rather than a career. For the next few years at least, the army will continue to be my bedrock. I plan to use the next few years to develop my writing, to see where it takes me before I take the leap of faith and finally embrace it. After five years I will be looking to finish the Union series, if I haven’t already, and perhaps start something new. No plan survives contact with the enemy, so who knows what the future will bring…
Finally, because no artistic endeavor is a solo flight, would you care to share the names and contact info for your supporting players, namely your cover designer, editor, proofreader(s), research assistants, hairdresser, dog groomer, chauffer, maid, butler, etc?
Yes, I would like to thank my wife and my family for their love and support. I would like to thank The Electronic Book Company for their work to turn my manuscript into a finished ebook, as well as my editor, Kimberley, for her hard work just prior to Christmas. Links to my cover designer, and The Electronic Book Company can be found just inside my book front cover.
Thank you, Phil, for sharing your new book. Keep us posted on the series and on any and all future projects as well.
Be sure to visit Phillip's website http://militarysciencefictionblog.blogspot.de/
Grab a copy of CROW, LANCEJACK, and EDEN right now.