Philip Smith Q&A
Book Link: The Brotherhood (The Eirensgarth Chronicles)
Social Link: Philip Smith Website
The Brotherhood is a classic epic fantasy tale about one young girl's journey into the unknown to rescue her sister from a vile and savage prince who has locked her away inside the most impregnable fortress on the frontier. With the help of a rag-tag band of heroes that call themselves the Brotherhood, she sets out into the mountains of The Wild and faces the ever-surmounting dangers of the hostile frontier. But Paige also carries a secret; a secret that her father took to his grave. And the worst part is, she has no idea what it means. Filled with harrowing tales, swashbuckling adventure, a pinch of magic, and an ensemble of characters you won't want to miss, the Brotherhood kicks off an adventure series that is sure to take readers of all ages for a few twists and turns.
About the Author:
Kilted, uncanny, and just a little beyond normal, Author Phil Smith has been unsuccessfully attempting to wrangle a wild imagination for an entire lifetime. Lucky for him, self publishing is easier than ever now, and so he decided to jot his stories down for the world to read. He is the author of the Eirensgarth Chronicles, as well as countless other series yet unwritten but stewing in the strange crockery he calls a mind. Phil currently lives in Tennessee, slaving away at his Muggle job till enough weird people want to buy his books and let him move to a cabin in Alaska to write full time.
Philip Smith Q&A
1) Tell us a bit about yourself. Any personal tidbits you’d like to share?
I grew up traveling the world with my family. My father was a gospel preacher, and so from a very early age I was getting to experience new places and people that helped me shape how I view the world today. And being home schooled, I had a lot of time on my hands that I’d fill with daydreaming about far off lands and adventures, staring out the window for hours much to the distress of my poor mother who just wanted me to finish my math homework before dinner-time.
2) Tell us about your past and current works. Any future projects you’d like us to know about?
I just released my first published novel, “The Brotherhood” which is the first in a planned series of probably four books or so. It’s the story about a band of adventurers who team up to help the main heroine, Paige, rescue her sister from a vile prince in an impregnable fortress. The sequel, “The Crypt”, is currently in the rough-drafting stage, and I’m hoping to keep the momentum going and release it this summer.
3) What inspired you to write your current project?
When I was about 13 or 14, we attended a Homeschool camp every fall, and I made friends with about 7 kids around my age. We would spend hours in the woods beating the ever-loving snot out of each other with carved wooden swords, and then shooting each other with home-made bows and arrows. We called ourselves “The Dark Brotherhood” but that was too ‘evil’ sounding for our parents so we shortened it to “the Brotherhood”. When I turned 15, I decided I needed to write a story and use all of my friends as inspiration for what is now a published work of fiction. Gosh, that’s so surreal! Haha!
4) Why did you decide to start writing?
I’ve always been notoriously terrible at reading, ironically. I’m an auditory and visual learner. So when I listened to the Eragon book for the first time read aloud, I knew I wanted to have audio books made from the stories I told myself at night and the only way to do that was to start writing it all down. Eventually I fell in love with the process, and even enrolled in a One Year Adventure Novel program taught by master storymaker Daniel Schwabauer, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to really dig down into the mechanics and basic psychology of keeping an audience on the edge with a well-written plot.
5) Who are some of your favorite authors & why?
As cliche as it may sound, I always loved Tolkien, Lewis, and Paolini. But to be honest the authors that inspired me the most were not writers at all, but the old tales my Grandfather used to tell us from “the Old Country”. Scottish stories of the Fae, mighty heroes, mythical beasties, and rolling landscapes have been with me ever since I was a “wee Bairn”. The old ways, the storyteller’s way, that is what inspires me to write the way I do. I want my stories to be simple enough for anyone to read, and deep enough for any age to enjoy.
6) What do you think makes an author successful, and what makes their work resonate with people?
Well, since success is a very subjective thing to measure, I think it depends on the author’s goals. I’ve only sold about 170 copies of my book so far, that’s not exactly rolling in the dough like J.K. Rowling. But if your goal is to get your story out there to the world, then I’d say if you do that then you’re successful.
I will say that as a Marketing specialist, it is VITAL for anyone getting into this game to understand that a manuscript isn’t your “baby” if you plan to make a living off of writing. You have to understand that not everyone is going to like your book, and not take it personal. You have to write things people want to read and so any cut or addition you make to a manuscript must be tailored to make it appeal to your target audience, otherwise word of your wonder will not spread. Marketability is everything.
7) What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome as an author?
Hands down the “fear factor”. I still have a mini panic attack when I log into Amazon to see if I’ve got any new reviews, because my biggest fear in putting my work out there has been “what if people don’t like it?” I mean, my books are clean; no sex, no swearing, basically everything Game of Thrones is not. So what if people aren't into the classic “Hero fights a real bad guy and good triumphs!”? Being willing to take that step and get the story out there into the harsh, cold world has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to overcome, since I am always my own worst nemesis.
8) This is a personal question so feel free to answer how you want or to not answer. A lot of people in the creative arts suffer from depression, self-doubt, and hopelessness. Can you share a moment in your writing career where you felt these emotions? How did you overcome it? Do you have any advice for those currently struggling?
Well, when you base your characters off of real life people, it can get a bit sticky. The main character was originally based off my highschool sweetheart, and so when she dumped me while I was en route to college, I went into this super emo, super angsty depression and swore I would NEVER publish that stupid book. Also in that time one of the other friends I based a character on decided to leave God and his faith behind, which was crushing to me. But as the years passed and I’d open it from time to time, things started to hurt less and less as I grew up and matured.
Eventually, the biggest step for me was deciding that just because a character is BASED on a real person, doesn’t make that character that person. As I tackled that eight year old rough draft, I watched the characters bloom and blossom into their own entities. Sure, Paige will do something every now and then that reminds me of a girl I used to date, but she’s as much her own person as I am now. People change, so do characters. And just because you face depression and anxiety doesn’t mean you will always be that same person, which is a very encouraging thought.
9) What do you feel is the biggest reward with writing?
Hands down the reviews. While feedback is scary, I cannot help but feel my heart burst with joy when I get tagged in a photo by a friend telling me her daughter just got my book and is so excited to read it, or to get a review on Amazon telling me someone has Post-Last-Page Depression and cannot wait for book #2. As someone with a lot of classic self-doubt, it’s so encouraging to know you didn’t royally screw up and someone even LIKED what you had to say.
10) Is there any advice that you can offer new writers?
Never quit. Take a break, take a sabbatical, take all the time you need to make a quality story, but never EVER quit. Take your craft seriously. Put the time and effort into it to become the best that you can be. Take a Skillshare or Udemy class. Try a writing Masterclass if you can swing it. Go to Comicon and skip the actor interviews and sit in on the writer’s panels. Use Youtube, it’s a great free resource. Make your story the best story you can write no matter how long or how much sweat and sleep you lose over it. But NEVER EVER quit.