We are pleased to feature Phil Stern for a one stop visit on his Virtual Book Tour. Phil is with us today to chat about his debut novel The Bull Years.
Born in 1970 in Ossining, New York, Stern grew up with a love of all types of science fiction, including the works of Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, John Wyndham, Piers Anthony, and more.
“Speculative fiction is so different today than it was back then,” Stern says. “I wanted to write stuff a bit more recognizable to fans of my generation. Science fiction should be about ideas and alternate worlds, strong characters and good stories.
Going into talk radio after attending SUNY Albany, Stern hosted regular shows in the New York City area, Albany, Utica, NY, and Greenville, NC. He later went into the advertising and sales industries.
Stern now lives in Florida, and is working on his next novel.
Help us give Phil a warm welcome!
Brenda & Steve: Phil, welcome to our blog! We’re so excited you could join us for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
Phil: I’ve been writing for about ten years, and like many people was excited about the opportunity to publish on Kindle. Everyone knows the traditional publishing industry has been shrinking, with fewer and fewer opportunities for new authors. When I realized what Kindle and e-publishing was all about it was a no-brainer.
Brenda & Steve: Please tell us a little about your new release The Bull Years without giving too much of a spoiler away.
Phil: The Bull Years is a book about the people of today. It’s Contemporary Fiction in its most basic form, taking a hard, funny look at what life is really like in 21st century America. The sub-title is A Novel Of America’s Most Disillusioned Generation, and directly addressed the expectations we all had as kids and young adults, compared to the challenges we've faced throughout our 20's and 30's. It’s funny and poignant, and I think will resonate strongly with just about everyone.
Brenda & Steve: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
Phil: A little bit of both. I did plan out the four main characters, who are also the narrators of the book, Steve Levine, Sophia Danton, Dave Miller, and Hayley Sykes. I think a good novel comes from having a firm game plan going in, but giving you enough room to be creative along the way.
Brenda & Steve: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
Phil: I’ve personally worked in several of the industries featured in The Bull Years, and known people who’ve worked in the others. Most of what’s there is based on personal stories and experiences.
Brenda & Steve: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?
Phil: There were seven or eight sections of the book I had firmly planned out before I began. The rest came out as I was writing.
Brenda & Steve: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?
Phil: I’ve worked as a Talk Show Host and advertising. Most recently I’ve been in sales. I’d certainly love to be a full-time writing, but that’s a tough transition to make.
Brenda & Steve: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.
Phil: I like to write in coffee shops. I can’t write at home, because there are too many distractions. So I have to get out, clear my mind, and get focused.
Brenda & Steve: That would be fun to write in a coffee shop, but I think the people watch could be distracting. Describe a typical writing day for you.
Phil: You have to write first thing. You can’t go shopping and then write, because now your mind isn't focused anymore. I have to write first thing if I’m going to get anything done that day.
Brenda & Steve: Totally agree we have to discipline ourselves, although marketing takes up a lot of an author's time. Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?
Phil: I’m finishing up my first Young Adult Science Fiction novella now, called Escape. Then I have Reylar, another full-length novel, coming out in a few months.
Brenda & Steve: Congratulations on your first novel! Good luck in your future works. Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?