So, Philip, let's talk generally about your writing first.
What do you write? Why this in particular?
Most of my writing can be described as either philosophical fantasy or magical realism. I like to play with alternative explanations for the way the world is shaped around us. I find the thought processes stimulating but also it is a vehicle for proposing another way of being. Being a songwriter too, I have always found it useful to interpret ideas poetically so that the reader or listener can find their own selves within the words.
What got you started on writing in the first place?
Writing songs came first. I learned music in the Salvation Army and joined rock bands at school. Writing my own songs set the bands I was in apart from the lads playing Deep Purple and Black Sabbath covers. I won a song writing competition aged 17 and that gave me great encouragement.
There are a couple of names I recognize. I'm sure I'm not alone! Do you have a particular routine?
I’m pretty chaotic about writing. I scribble down notes as ideas come to me or dictate into my phone. Something I see or hear will spark an idea and I dream it through to the point I can start writing. Then it’s about grabbing a little quiet time when there aren’t too many distractions.
And do you have a dedicated working space?
I don’t but wish I did. I could easily create somewhere, because I live in beautiful surroundings. In the end I just sit down somewhere comfortable with the laptop and begin.
When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
Getting published gives you that right / privilege. I am fortunate in having had a number of my stories and songs published. It’s only in later life that I’ve found the head space for writing seriously though. Most of my life has been taken up with family and my business career.
How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
My family are used to me being creative and reinventing myself. I have a wonderful supportive family. Full of love.
What are you most proud of in your writing?
I am very proud to have written things that other people want to read or listen to, and take pleasure in. Amazing.
Yes, I know what you mean. How do you get on with editing and research?
I enjoy the research because I learn so much along the way. Looking into medieval witchcraft and the rabid persecution of ordinary people was fascinating. It was an interesting concept to imagine that within all the superstition and ignorance there existed a true magical line, fighting for survival. I realised very late the importance of editing. My early writing was finished when I got to the end, without even a sidewards glance at editing. I read it now and weep. I intend to rewrite so much of my early work and use the ideas again.
Do you have any goals for the future?
I have completed a YA Fantasy novel called ‘The Hunt for Moss and Magic.’ I would love to get that published and out there. I would also like to challenge myself to write something outside my comfort zone. Musically, my band Stuckfish is currently working on album 3.
Well, you do know that we have a YA imprint. I hope you will send that to us. Which writers have inspired you?
Anthony Doerr, Paulo Coelho, Tim Winton, Barbara Kingsolver, Jorge Luis Borges, Peter F Hamilton, Hilary Mantel, George R.R.Martin and as they say...many, many more...
And about your new book specifically. Tell me about Matter of Life and Death
Matters of Life & Death is a collection of short stories that reflect my personality. They are sometimes dark and sometimes light. The various themes and styles examine our emotions and attitudes and how they shape our lives and eventual demise.
I have used these stories to explore common feelings about the world in which we live, our views about the future and the situations we find ourselves in as we navigate our way through life. Hopefully there are layers within the writing for the reader to unpick. There’s magic and then there’s the magic to be found in everyday situations.
Tell us about your research for this book.
Beyond learning about the historical basis for the esoteric themes within the stories, such as alchemy and witchcraft, I also had to look deeply into my own psyche, my innermost thoughts...and my observations of the behaviours of others who I have come into contact with. I have travelled extensively for work and pleasure, sometimes off-grid or in unusual circumstances. I have seen the world from obtuse angles.
What inspired you to write this?
The need to explore what lies beneath, the alternative reasons for the way things are and of course, as with many writers, the innate desire to self analyse.
My novel, The Hunt for Moss and Magic. It’s time for that now. Oh, and album 3 by Stuckfish.
How can we get a copy of the book?
Online at Amazon or Waterstones or by ordering though any good book shop.
Do you have any events planned?
I’m saving the events for 2021. Hopefully the world will be entering a renewed, Covid free optimism.
Click on image to view on Amazon
Read a fabulous review here.
"What unites this disparate group of tales is the author’s unique storytelling and inventive plots. Stuckey deftly combines human interest with inventive plotting to create relatable short stories that capture the imagination and hold it long after you’ve finished this relatively short book."