Friday, April 8, 2011

Interview with author Daniel Philbin

Today my guest is young adult author, Daniel Philbin.  His book 206 Kingston Street is published by MuseItUP Publishing.

1.     Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
I’ve been writing novels since I could write, and inventing stories since before I could read. My sisters and I would “fake read,” an activity that involved staring at what was then an unintelligible sea of words and making up what happened. I’ve always enjoyed writing novels, short stories and novellas, and when I realized that I could make money writing, I decided I wanted to become a writer. I later discovered that writers actually make so little money, it’s laughable, but by then, my love for writing had matured to a state where I wanted to write despite the few profits. For me, the ability to play God for a bit, to let my imagination wander, and to share my ideas with others was motivation enough.
2.     Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I would like to be a full-time writer, unfortunately, since I don’t want to starve to death, I have to devote some of my time to earning a college degree. To answer the second, question, I don’t organize my writing time very well. I try to write a consistent number of pages every day, however much I think I can handle. I make a goal for myself, say five pages, or two pages a day, and I write that number, despite any desire to the contrary.
3.     What influences your writing?
Books I read, movies I watch, people I observe, conversations I’ve had, and ideas I mull about before going to sleep all influence my stories, and the way I write them.
4.     Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
Before 206 Kingston Street, I actually published a short story, The Ghostwriter in a college literary magazine, The Purgatoire River, published by Trinidad State Junior College. However, 206 Kingston Street seems to me like my first published work, simply because I’m actually getting royalties, the editor has my name right, and I have a snazzy-looking cover. The Ghostwriter was about a debate between a crazy philosopher and his ghostwriter, but on a deeper level, the story was about morality, and what morality means in a secular world, if it means anything at all. I’ve written from many different genres including Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and Comedy, though I usually mix genres some.
5.     Why did you choose to write a children's story?
When I first came up with the character ideas for Jude and Leslie, I was fifteen.  Even now, I’m only eighteen. I guess I wrote a young adult story because I could relate to the characters more, and because I liked reading young adult fiction myself. I knew firsthand what teenagers wanted in fiction.
6.     What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
I first got the idea of a teenager running away from home, and meeting a girl on the side of the road, when I was fifteen. I wrote a story involving a murder for which the teenager is wrongly framed. Two years later, for a creative writing class at the local college, my assignment was to create a novella, starting with a character. I stole Jude from my earlier story and started writing about him. Slowly, as I wrote, I developed the conflict. He needed a place to stay, so he stayed in an abandoned, “haunted” shop. From here, the ideas of a twenty-year-old murder, and a ghost evolved. Thinking back, I’m not sure exactly where they came from. They just seemed to fall in my head. First one story element, then an answer to a plot hole I had overlooked, and so on.
7.     What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
I haven’t really had enough experience in either for a satisfactory reply, but I suppose even traditional publishing demands a lot of promotion, editing, and work behind the actual writing of the piece. I imagine self-publishing requires much more of this extra work.
8.     What is your marketing strategy?
My marketing strategy is to spread the word about my book in any place, in any discussion, with anyone, and to set aside specific times, like my writing, to promotion.
9.     What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
I think most writers advise getting an agent. It’s easier than getting an editor. This is probably the case for the bigger publishers. I didn’t need an agent, though, so it really depends, I think.
10.  Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
11.  Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
First and foremost, read and write- a lot. Second, you need to really love writing and reading a lot. If you don’t love writing, there is no sane reason to work hard developing characters and plots, only for a meager pay. 

12.  Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.
Jude Evans runs away from his abusive parents and takes the bus to Philadelphia to start a life of his own. With nowhere to stay, Jude is relieved when he gets a ride with Leslie Diaz, a friendly girl his own age. She tells him of a place he can stay: an abandoned shop whose owners disappeared over twenty years ago. Behind a locked door, Jude and Leslie discover the library of a spiritualist philosopher, Edgar Ross and letters between him and an Annabel Castou. Jude wonders why these letters sit in a drawer in an abandoned shop; wonders why the library is locked from the inside; wonders what happened to Edgar Ross, Annabel, and the shop owners. 
Finding clues: a woman crying in the night, a trapdoor leading to the attic, a journal telling of Annabel’s death, Jude and Leslie stumble upon a twenty-year-old murder.
206 Kingston Street will be available at under Muse Bookstore


  1. Lovely interview and I am so impressed with Daniel's mature approach to his new career. I wish you all the success in the world, Daniel. Your story sounds fascinating and I adore the cover.

  2. Viviane, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. This sounds like a fantastic book. I love reading about ghosts. The cover for this book is also one of my favorites. Another for the To buy list. I wish you much success!

  4. Roseanne, thanks for stopping by to see what Daniel's been up to.

  5. Penny, great post about an author I had not known about and he's a Muse author too and writes YA too. It sounded as if his book is already published. Can we get it in the Muse Bookstore? I can't believe Daniel is so young!

  6. We are so proud of Daniel's book. Although only eighteen, many will be surprised by this young author's prolific writer's voice.

    I wish you nothing but success, Daniel.

  7. Excellent interview, Daniel. :) Wishing you all the best!

  8. Daniel, wonderful to get to know you a little better. Your maturity is refreshing, and you're certainly off to a wonderful start in your writing life, as well as anything else you choose to do in life:) Looking forward to reading your story!


  9. Great interview, Daniel! Congrats! And amazing cover for your book. You must be so happy! Enjoy the ride.

  10. Barbara, Lea, and Karen, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Barbara, yes, Daniel's book is now available at the Muse Bookstore.

  11. Sara and Kevin, so great you could stop by and were able to learn more about Daniel.

  12. Wonderful interview. It's great to see someone so young who loves reading and writing, and actually go published! Congratulations on your book; it sounds very interesting. I love the cover.

  13. Very nice interview, Penny.

    Congratulations on your book, Daniel. It sounds like a great story. I read and write YA novels too. Best wishes for your success with your writing.

  14. Karen, I agree Daniel is inspiring to other young people with his accomplishments.

  15. Daniel, your book sounds wonderfully thought out and exciting. How fortunate for you and your readers that you recognized the writing bug at this young stage of your life! Your stories can only get better with age and experience. I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors.

  16. Pat, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I'm sure your kind words mean a lot to Daniel.

  17. Hey, thanks everyone for your comments. I really appreciate them.