Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 24, 2011

Phil Truman, Indie Author, Visits with Us

T. Hello Phil, welcome to Pinnacle Writing. Tell us a bit about yourself.

P. I’m a native Oklahoman, born here in 1945, which makes me 66, if my math is correct. From college, up to a couple years ago I worked as a teacher, coach, and at various positions in the business world, mostly in IT. I now consider myself a full-time writer, instead of retired. I’ve been married to the same woman for 38 years, bless her heart; I have not been asked to leave the town of Broken Arrow for over 30 years, which is a record. We have two adult children, and I’m called “Grampy” by a pair of almost perfect grand boys. I dote on them a lot. I’m a Republican, a Methodist, and a veteran all in reasonably good standing.

T. When did you start writing?

P. During my wage-earning years I dabbled in writing; wrote columns for local and regional magazines and newspapers, did some freelance stuff, entered contests for short fiction, that sort of thing. But I had a family to support, and, being the traditionalist American that I am, stayed with “real” jobs instead of trying to make a living as a writer. I’ve always had an itch to write, but I never considered my writing much more than a hobby…or a rash. That’s because, unless you’re Stephen King – which, by the way, I’m glad I’m not – writing, especially writing fiction, is an abysmal way to make a living. So, to answer your question, I took up writing full time when I had the time, space, attitude, and wherewithal to maintain it.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

P. It’s kind of a cliché, I guess, but I had a high school English teacher who was the first to tell me I had some ability. She helped me get published in an anthology. She paid attention and encouraged me. My brother Gary, who’s now deceased, got me to collaborate with him on a Vietnam era novel, which sort of re-kindled the fires to write.

T. Please tell us about your current book. What is the genre? Give us a thumbnail sketch.

P. I call Legends of Tsalagee a mystery, adventure, romantic comedy. My original idea was to write a book almost everybody (women included) would want to read, by which I mean, buy. It’s my second novel, sort of a follow-on to my first – GAME – a guy book. It’s not a sequel, because it has a completely different theme and premise, but it does take place in the same fictional town thirty years later with some of the same characters. The story revolves around a hunt for the Lost Treasure of Belle Starr. There’s a murder, there’s some lovey-dovey stuff. Oh, and there’s a Bigfoot.

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or in progress?

P. The idea of Kindle Singles intrigues me, and I’m thinking of doing a mystery series using two of the main characters from Legends of Tsalagee as the protagonists – two funny old guys who solve mysteries/crimes in a bumbling sort of way. I’m currently writing a historical novel about a late 19th, early 20th Century Oklahoma outlaw. Expect to have it out by the first of the year.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants?

P. Most days I think I spend more time staring (supposedly thinking) than actually writing. I also look for ways to get out of writing like dinking around on social networks, going for snacks, doing interviews, playing various forms of solitaire, more snacking, checking cable news, writing e-mails. I usually wind it up sometime between 11 p.m and 1 a.m.…after a snack, of course. Hemmingway is supposed to have said (something like): “Writers don’t like to write; only to have written.” And I am a “seat of the pants” writer; which is strange, because I’ve always been a compulsive planner.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

P. We’re in the midst of another revolution in reading akin to what happened with the onset of cheap paper production. Brick and mortar booksellers may well die out, or evolve into something like video game stores. John Locke said it best in his “How I Sold a Million e-books…” e-book where he says e-books and self-publishing/small press publishing have leveled the playing field with big house traditional publishers. Now we “unknowns” can compete with the big boys (and girls). With the traditional press and most literary agents, Indie authors are virtually shut out. But now we no longer have to endure their condescension and snubs. We don’t really need them. At least, we don’t have to deal with them on their terms.

One interesting thing to watch will be how textbooks play out in the digital book world. That’s long been a major rip-off area, as any college student (or parent who has had to buy them) would tell you. A quick check on Amazon shows that most textbooks are still not available in digital format, and those that are don’t show much of a price reduction. Perhaps buyer pressure will change that over time. I’d much rather carry $10 copies of Fundamentals of Psychology and Survey of English Literature across campus in my Kindle or iPad than $100/10 lb. copies in a backpack. Come to think of it, e-textbooks could save you the price of a backpack, too.

T. Anything else to share?

P. Thanks, Tom. Great to have the opportunity to be interviewed by you.

T. Thank you for visiting Pinnacle Writing.

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