Friday, December 9, 2011

Phil Truman talks about Legends of Tsalagee: Game, An American Novel

AUTHOR:             Phil Truman
BOOK TITLE:       Legends of Tsalagee; GAME, An American Novel
PUBLISHER:        Deadly Niche Press & Buoy Up Press, respectively (both Imprints of AWOC Publishing)

Please tell us about yourself?
I’m a native Oklahoman, born here in 1945, which makes me 66, if my math is correct. From college 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, Oklahoma 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 conservative, a Methodist, and a veteran all in reasonably good standing.

When and why did you begin writing?
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.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was/is, actually, a non-fiction guide for writers on humor writing – Writing Humor for More Than Laughs. As I mentioned, I’d done a fair amount of column writing, of the humor kind, and my friend Dan Case, who is a small press publisher (AWOC Publishing) and editor of the award winning e-zine, “Writing for Dollars,” asked me to put together a little book on the subject. 

As for my novels, I don’t recall being inspired too often. To me, getting inspiration is something almost supernatural, something accompanied by a bite of genius or the Divine. Beethoven was probably inspired, Van Gogh, John of Patmos. But looking at those guys, there seems to be a fine line between genius and madness. I’ve not been accused of having either…yet. However, I have been influenced by many people and events over the years. Life experience is my wellspring.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not so much in Legends of Tsalagee, that one was written just for fun. I grew up in small Oklahoma towns, and the characters in this novel are composites of people I’ve known in those places, all colorful and memorable. I just want the reader to have as much fun knowing them as I did. In it, there’s a murder, a treasure hunt, a mysterious creature, and some lovey-dovey stuff.

In my novel GAME, my first, I wanted to convey a feeling, or a message, that the human spirit need not be broken by the hard circumstances life gives us; that one’s destiny should be achieved, not waited for. It’s positioned as a YA novel, mainly for males, but could spill over into the pot of adult readers.

 Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
As I mentioned earlier, all my characters are composites of people I’ve known, both likeable and unlikeable. I would think that’s true for most fiction writers. The happenings in my novels have some basis in my own life experiences, some more than others. Some things are made up, some are not.

What books have most influenced your life most?
One book I read as a youth, which I’ve never forgotten, is Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Probably had some ancestral memory there or something.

I don’t know about influencing my life, but certainly the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry influenced my reading and writing bent.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I once found a little paperback at a used book store – Education of a Wandering Man, the memoirs of Louis L’Amour.  Up to that point I hadn’t read much of L’Amour’s, but the telling of his life by him was so fascinating, the writing so compelling, that I fell into reading his novels. He’s not the greatest writer that ever lived, but he’s such a great story-teller that his writing transcends literary mastery. 

I’ve also read most of Larry McMurtry’s books. Both of these writers have influenced my style.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
I’m currently reading an anthology of Western writers called The Traditional West. It’s excellent. All the authors are well known in the genre, most award-winners. As you might’ve guessed, I have a lean toward the American Western, historical Western writers.

What are your current projects?
I’m currently writing a historical Western novel based on the life and times of a late 19th/early 20th Century Oklahoma Cherokee outlaw. It should be released near the end the first quarter 2012.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m a compulsive re-writer, so my latest book barely resembles the original draft. That’s probably a holdover trait from my days as a programmer/analyst. Computer programs are never finished; I think I carried that over into my novel writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Mostly promoting my books. In fact, I spend more time nowadays hawking my books than I do writing on the new one. Sometimes I think I do that on purpose so I won’t have to write. One of my favorite quotes is from Hemmingway (Earnest) – “Writers hate to write, only to have written.”

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Wow, advice for writers. Well, let’s see…get the aces out as soon as possible when playing FreeCell solitaire; use adverbs sparingly; action verbs are good; eat more fruit than Twinkies when snacking; and, uh…oh, yeah – don’t quit your day job.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I’m very grateful and humbled that you would take the time to read my books. Also, would love to hear from you – Phil @ PhilTrumanInk dot com

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is the small press house of AWOC Publishing in North Texas. Dan Case is the owner/operator/graphic designer/cook/father confessor/sergeant at arms. He and I go back thirty years or so to when we were young fire-breathing co-workers in the IT world. We’ve both since moved on to less sane endeavors
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

My website:
My blog:

Synopsis - Legends of Tsalagee
Legends from a small town come in many forms. Near Tsalagee, Oklahoma a monster lurks and an infamous 19th Century outlaw’s booty lays hidden. When two renegade bikers ride into town looking to find the Lost Treasure of Belle Starr, local legends Hayward Yost and Socrates Ninekiller suspect the ruffians’ involvement in the murder of a local farmer; a man rumored to have knowledge of the lost treasure’s location...and its curse. As events unfold, others in the community are drawn into the hunt – a Wiccan who moves to town to pursue her New Age lifestyle; her bumbling, socially inept boyfriend women can’t seem to resist; a young Iraqi War veteran home to heal his physical and emotional wounds; and a mysterious creature known in Native American lore as a forest demon whom they call “Hill Man who screams at night.” Mystery, romance, comedy, and adventure await in Legends of Tsalagee.

1 comment:

  1. It's very nice to meet you, Phil. Grapes of Wrath is an awesome book, even more so now. Best of luck with your books. LOT sounds wonderfully creepy.