Today, we have Phillip Chen on board. He is the author of Falling Star.
Welcome. Some people write for a paycheck, while others do it for the love of the craft or to fulfill a promise to a loved one. Can you tell me what drives you to get up and write?
I wrote Falling Star in 1990-1991 in response to a series of horrifying nightmares that I had in 1990 about gangs of ordinary-looking Americans wreaking apocalyptic horror on our people and institutions. In these dreams, flaming buildings came crashing down carrying its residents to their death. I felt that this was a story that had to be told. The book was copyrighted in 1991.
What is the first book that you can remember having a true impact on you?
Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage in high school. After all these years, I can still remember Maugham’s description of Mildred’s skin color which he described as having a greenish cast.
What is one quirky thing about yourself… something that no one outside of your friends and family might know?
Despite my public persona, I am extremely shy.
What is your current project about?
I am currently writing the sequel to Falling Star.
How did the plot and overall story for that project come into being?
As I discussed above, Falling Star resulted from my series of horrific dreams in 1990. I was carrying a laptop at the time and making extensive trips to Europe. I started typing the story on the long red-eye flights (augmented by weekend sessions at home) and within one and one-half months had a 560 page story about mysterious objects found buried deep in the ocean and what happens when they wake up and start sending signals to outer space. Mike, a successful banker pulled back into a clandestine world to help decipher these signals, is attacked by gangs of ordinary-looking citizens. On top of all this Mike learns that a very important friend has died. The sub-plot about gangs of ordinary-looking citizens attacking Mike and his colleagues were the direct result of my nightmares. In the story these people are foreign agents hiding in plain view fo decades, marrying innocent Americans, raising children, holding down mundane jobs, buying homes, and stealing the identities of dead babies. For years literary agents and publishers told me that my story wasn’t “strong enough”. I now understand that what they were saying is that the sub-plot that foreign agents could live among us for decades was preposterous. After all, this is America; things like that just can’t happen here! Until they did, of course, in June 2010 when Russian spies were found to be doing exactly what my fictional spies had done for almost twenty years. The only difference between my fictional spies and the Russians was that my spies did not grow hydrangeas. One of my undercove spies, a gorgeous female, even used being a financial consultant as a cover. Because of the disclosure of the Russian spies, I felt that I had to self-publish before any more of my book got played out on prime-time news.
(laugh) No kidding. Well, do you have any other projects on the burner somewhere (that you can talk about)?
I always have a lot of ideas floating around my head, but they need to ferment and come to fruition before I can actually transcribe them.
Fair enough. Okay, quick!… without thinking, what are the first five words that come to mind?
I like people who read.
What do you think those five words say about your personality?
Recognition that my writing is totally wasted time, unless there are people willing to read or hear them.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these interview questions. Before I let you go, I have one more question. If the world were to one day have your name as a household name (aside from your writing career) what would you want to be known for?
Having an eclectic mind.
Thank you, Phillip for visiting with us today.