#SPFBO7 Interview – Phil Williams

Phil, welcome to Lavender Lass Books. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!

Kept From Cages: An Action-Packed Supernatural Thriller is the first book in the Ikiri duology. Here’s the blurb:

No one returns from Ikiri.

Reece’s gang of criminal jazz musicians have taken shelter in the wrong house. There’s a girl with red eyes bound to a chair. The locals call her a devil – but Reece sees a kid that needs protecting. He’s more right than he knows.

Chased by a shadowy swordsman and an unnatural beast, the gang flee across the Deep South with the kid in tow. She won’t say where she’s from or who exactly her scary father is, but she’s got powers they can’t understand. How much will Reece risk to save her?

On the other side of the world, Agent Sean Tasker’s asking similar questions. With an entire village massacred and no trace of the killers, he’s convinced Duvcorp’s esoteric experiments are responsible. His only ally is an unstable female assassin, and their only lead is Ikiri – a black-site in the Congo, which no one leaves alive. How far is Tasker prepared to go for answers?

Kept From Cages is the first part in an action-packed supernatural thriller duology, filled with eccentric characters and intricately woven mysteries. Click BUY NOW or READ NOW to start your journey to Ikiri today.

What reviewers are saying…

“Elements of Tarantino, Indiana Jones, and James Bond mix to form a heady brew of adrenaline cut with cultural soul.” – Fantasy Book Review

“a gripping and unique suspense novel with a significant cross-genre appeal” – Fantasy Book Critic

“An addictive read that is difficult to put down” – Lynn’s Books

“From the first page of the book, I was hooked” – Paul’s Picks

“A crazy kind of adventure where you can only expect the unexpected” – Space & Sorcery

“If you’re looking for a high adventure style book, with brilliantly written characters and a perfect mash-up of genres then look no further.” – Crook’s Books

“pure popcorn…the thriller-style pacing had me flipping the pages” – Jen, Rockstarlit Book Asylum

“I had no idea what I was getting myself in for and I was richly rewarded” – The Sword Smith

“A wonderful, exciting, page-turner of a book” – Phil Parker, author of The Knights Protocol

“Get ready for a crazy, fun and terrifying ride!” – Dini Panda Reads

“The ONLY Urban Fantasy writer I will not hesitate to read (other than Dyrk Ashton of course).” – OllieSpot SFF Book Reviews

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
This is my fourth time, but so far I’ve peaked with my first entry, Under Ordshaw, which reached the semi-finals back in 2018. I’ve entered this year in the hopes of getting more eyes on a book that’s been swimming around a bit under the radar – Kept From Cages is a supernatural thriller that blends genres, with fantasy at its core. It’s one I think people will find a lot of fun.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
Fantasy is the domain where anything’s possible, and for me that’s where you find the biggest wonder and biggest surprises. There’s little more satisfying, to my mind, than successfully blending the unreal and impossibly unique with a believable narrative/reality, to bring things to life that we don’t see every day. And then deal with how that turns characters’ lives upside down.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
The biggest reason for me, honestly, is impatience. I write a lot and I’m keen to see projects finished through to the end. I have queried agents and publishers for years (so many years), but after a point I just wanted people to be able to read what I’m working on. I bowed out of screenwriting for the same reason, once I appreciated that the scripts I sometimes spent years working with might, at best, end up as a calling card to get a job, rather than as a piece of entertainment in themselves.

We have the means now, as individuals, to do a great job producing books with professional editing standards and design, so while a big publishing houses may still offer promotional clout and access to some of the best talent in the business, there’s really no reason that a self-published author can’t complete an excellent piece of work without them. And that, to me, is the key goal.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
The biggest advantages beside speed are flexibility and control. You can produce whatever you want, exactly the way you want it, without interference, and you’re free to go back and make changes, tweaking things in a fluid way. The downside is you’re mostly in this alone, with no one else as invested as you, and no one can do everything alone. You need to be good at every stage of the publishing process, and it’s also hard to manage your time. I’d always rather be writing than marketing, for example!

5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
Over the past few years I’ve consumed much more diverse fiction. I find it fascinating to discover different perspectives and new ideas, as well different structures, as stories from different cultures don’t necessarily stick to the Western monomyth type arcs we’re used to (for instance Sword Of Kaigen, I think, is a good example of an unexpected story structure that’s been doing brilliantly). I also notice a proliferation of LGBTQ+ characters emerging, which I’m definitely here for.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I’ve already released a few dystopian novels and have a couple more to come (from post-apocalyptic to near-future), but one of my goals for the next couple of years is to release some real-world crime thrillers. I’ve got all sorts of ideas laid out there.

There’s also darker fantasy and horror in pretty much all my work, and I’ve recently penned some proper horror short stories, so I would like to turn my hand towards a few standard horror novels. I’ve had one planned that fits into the Ordshaw series (a haunted tower block type affair), but that was also once a TV pilot, so we’ll see how that pans out.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
For me, it all starts with character; give me characters I care about and want to spend time with and then put them in situations where I need to know what happens to them. To a degree, this has a lot to do with the voice, giving the texture of the story, and I think no matter the specifics of a story we can easily be drawn into or lose interest in almost anything based on how we personally connect with the voice.

When it comes specifically to fantasy, my preferences lean towards the darker side of weird. I like things that wow or shock me, a sense of scale or something visceral. I definitely prefer twists to the traditional – and stories that work it seamlessly into the story.

Case in point would be T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones which I’m reading right now. The main character has a wonderfully engaging, light and quirky voice, and the world (provisionally our world) is laced with really unexpected unusual elements that gradually shift from mysterious to threatening. Perfect combo!

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
I’m currently polishing up the second half of the Ikiri duology, to complete the story started in Kept From Cages. It picks up where we left off and builds to a great cymbal-crashing conclusion!

That’s taken me forever to piece together, what with 2020 and all, but in the meantime I’ve also completed an epic military fantasy in an all new secondary-world with parallels to the Great War. But also magic and monsters and female soldiers.

On top of that, there’s another Ordshaw book on the way and the crime thrillers I mentioned above…also at least two books I just haven’t got round to editing yet…

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
The main piece of advice I’d give to anyone wanting to write, in any field, is to read as much as you can. Active reading is the best way to get an idea of market expectations, a great way to hone your skills (always be questioning what techniques work or don’t) and a good way to keep you on your toes looking out for what new and established writers are up to. Beyond that, nothing quite beats networking with others in the community; you can learn so much more from a five-minute conversation with someone who’s already been there than from ten years of isolated trial-and-error. Trust me.

You can find Phil Williams’ book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Kept-Cages-Action-Packed-Supernatural-Thriller-ebook/dp/B08GKZTCCV