Who are you and why are you here?
According to my frequently neglected blog (http://phylcampbell.wordpress.com/), I am author, mother, dreamer, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, Night Owl. I'm also a published author with three (or 4, if you count the 2 in 1) titles on Amazon and over 70 articles on a site called Wikinut (http://www.wikinut.com/author~wjejeh/Phyl-Campbell/), where I've been a blogger for about six months. I maintain a Facebook author page (Phyl Campbell Author Page) and a personal page where I play Candy Crush, WWF, and Bejeweled Blitz. This is a judgment free zone, right?
Today, I'm telling everyone to get their hands on The Carley Patrol, a small town drama that I hope keeps people guessing until the last reveal. I write about small towns because I'm from small towns. And I've been an outsider to small towns, so I've viewed them clinically and cynically. That said, I love small towns. Everyone has a secret and everyone in town knows something about that secret – usually except the person whose business it is to know, the person being "protected." Secrets always come out -- that bears repeating: secrets ALWAYS come out.
In Carley, brothers Michael and Marcus McCoy are both on constant patrol over their sister Carley. Carley resents their hovering, and is determined to prove that she is her own woman. The problem comes when one of her boyfriends has a vendetta against her brothers and has no qualms using her to damage them. That's when things start to get freaky. But don't take my word for it -- check it out on Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/The-Carley-Patrol-ebook/dp/B00EGS11GO/ref=la_B006BBGHSG_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381375699&sr=1-2
Next up: a study of opposites. On one hand, I've got an adult sitcom-esque comedy of errors. It's called 25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane, or 25 Reasons, for short. And it's about this couple who've been together a while -- they have a son who is almost a teenager -- and they're kind of in a romantic slump. Charlie is a simple guy. He just wants more sex. And he's willing to try and stretch his romantic side if Jane can scratch his itch. Jane, on the other hand, has been filling her head with these romance novels that are in the fiction section of the library for a reason -- or lots of reasons. But she's got this idea that if she makes Charlie read stuff that turns her on, he'll act more, well, non-Charlie-ish. And Charlie tries. The results are usually disastrous. I've actually posted some excerpts and sample chapters on the Wikinut site. Look up 25 Reasons from my home page (http://www.wikinut.com/author~wjejeh/Phyl-Campbell/).
On another hand, I've got some childrens books in the works. And this really isn't such a study in opposites, because couples in healthy relationships do have sex, and unless something has been done to prevent it, sex can lead to kids, and then parents have to teach kids. I'm hoping my books will help in that arena. In my first children's book, You Can Call Me Mommy, Jason is figuring out that his mom is a woman named Emily and that all the people in his community can be more than just their job or more than just Mom or Dad to someone. Kids that go to preschool and daycare figure this out a little earlier than those that stay home with a parent. Some kids need to have the discussion and others don't. This book came about because when my son was young enough for me to be in a Mommy-group, one of the little boys had such a conversation with his mom after I called her by name. Bibliophile that I am, I went on Amazon to find a book that would reinforce what his mom said, just in case he had questions he didn't know to ask. And, of course, I couldn't find any. A few weeks later, YCCMM's first draft was written. It's taken a bit longer to find an illustrator who shared my vision and was willing to bring it to life, but some things are just worth waiting for, so I hope I can bring that to everyone for in time for all the major holidays.
If you could go back in time and have five minutes to speak with a much younger you, what would you tell yourself?
Time travel and advice! Fun!! Honestly, I would love to go back and tell my newly pregnant self to skip graduate school. I didn't finish the program, so it served no purpose other than severely affecting my stress level, over-qualifying and over-specializing me for many jobs and yet not qualifying me enough for the teaching jobs I thought I wanted. And giving me student loans it would take me five years to pay back.
I had the extreme good fortune to have my very favorite job while still an undergrad. I taught high school English classes at night, at my alma mater, for second-chance students. My boss took a big chance on me, and I even loved the minutes I hated. It was the kind of thing I wanted to continue on after I graduated from the teaching program. I saw myself as LouAnne Johnson and I was teaching those kids Shakespeare and about the Titanic and how to write and spell and IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL.
Three months later I was an expectant mother in a city that scared the pants off me. It was five times the size of the place(s) where I grew up. And even though their accents were generally thicker than mine, and their dedication to the Confederate South a bit stronger, they viewed me as the dumb (albeit brilliant) girl from Arkansas and I just never got both feet on the ground around them. And I worried that if I ever did, I wouldn't recognize myself -- and more importantly, I wouldn't like myself. As frustrating as it was not to finish something I'd started, getting pregnant and dropping out of grad school was probably the best thing I could have done. But I should have done it sooner. If I hadn't been so desperate to suck it up and soldier through, I'd have saved myself a lot of CRAP. Instead, I went through a lot of self-hatred and yucky stuff that to be honest, I'm still dealing with ten years later.
My third year in Kentucky, I did find a teaching job that was a good fit for me. The boss was (and is) a wonderful lady from whom I learned a lot. Had I found her agency when we first moved into town, and had I started working there right away instead of attending graduate school, a lot of things would have been different and presumably better. So if I could time travel back, I would try to save myself a lot of heartache. Now, whether or not I would listen to myself -- that's an even better question.
The balance of self-identity and motherhood is a problem (or situation, as some prefer) many college educated or highly trained women face when they become mothers. This is especially true when motherhood is unplanned or unexpected. In the US and around the world, many women handle the motherhood situation in many different ways, and have different attitudes about the challenges they face. It's nice to be able to explore alternative universes of possibility through my fiction, and I hope it helps other women, and the men who stand beside them, too. If I had been able to time travel back and prevent some of that heartache, I might not understand some of my characters the way I do. I know bad things allegedly happen when time is altered. Still, there are times when I'd like to change it, and just tempt fate that little bit...
When and where do you do your best writing?
I do my best writing in the middle of the night. Everyone else in the house is in bed, sleeping, so the house is quiet. I'm punch-drunk, so my comedy scenes are really funny. My inner critic is asleep, thankfully, and I LOVE not having to deal with her. The only thing I have to worry about is being so tired that I mistype or my finger lands on the delete key when I slump over the keyboard. I've lost thousands of words that way. And it was probably for the best, but I just know I had the greatest American novel many times over and deleted it in a comatose state.
High school: Your glory days or a hell you couldn’t escape fast enough?
Unlike most students, I felt richer in college than I ever did growing up -- and with good reason. I was a scholarship student with a full ride plus a cash stipend. I lived at home, not the dorm, so all the drama of living at home was drama I was used to. In college, most of my classes were filled with students like me, smart and outspoken and generally placing a value on education more than those I went to high school with. While most students in college were also trying to work or navigate dorm life, obnoxious roommates, or something like that, I had money in my pocket, school was my job; I loved it and it loved me. While college-life wasn't perfect, it was a whole lot closer to perfection than high school had been.
Favorite guilty pleasure read?
My favorite guilty pleasure read – nearly everything I read is guilty pleasure read or I put it back!! If I'm feeling frisky, I reach for Nora Roberts. If I'm feeling truly naughty, there's nothing like Beatrice Small. Nostalgia leads me to Nancy Springer, my first feminist author and my first Science Fiction author after Madeline L'Engle. I'm reading a lot of stuff by writers who live in my area or that I've met through forums or faires and I just love being able to talk to someone about his or her work. Jenn McClory (http://jennifermcclory.com/ ), Charity Bradford (http://charitybradford.com/ ), Kymberley Cook (http://www.kymberleycook.com/) and the site's own JM Kelley are just a few of the current "little-knowns" that I've enjoyed reading this past year. Even social media articles are guilty pleasures just because it's so easy for me to click on one article, and it links to something else, and before I know it I've got 25 different tabs open and I'm just lost in the mire of my own creation.
But most of the time, I'm reading YA fiction. YA is all the adventure without all the gratuitous sex (which there is a place for, but not as often as Charlie thinks)... YA also has the drama I miss when I'm not teaching. Reading drama is so much more pleasant than actually having to deal with it. The other thing I love is little kid books. Mo Willems' Pigeon books are great. I find them in bookstores or on library shelves and I pretend I'm checking them out for other people or for research. I'm really bummed that my 10 year old thinks he's too young to get them – though if one's laying out, he'll open it up and read it out loud, and for Pigeon he does voices. He's so me in that respect – and I just love that.
If you could collaborate with any author on an exciting new project, who would you choose?
I do have an exciting project I would love to work with Dan Brown on. There's this woman, and of course she's the outspoken and mysteriously clairvoyant wife of a young up-and-coming politician. While he's trying to get into higher political circles, she's dreaming about an alternate reality where the Jews (during the time period prior to the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth), weren't really calling out for Barabbas, but they were drowned out by hired thugs the Pharisees and Pilate and Herod put in place there (there are currently some advocate groups for this ideology, but I digress...). This shocking revelation would destroy her husband's conservative base, so his people are all about shutting her up.
Meanwhile, Dan Brown's character Robert Langdon has been contacted by the Knight's Templar. A dreamer holds the key to unlock Joseph's chalice, but they don't know who she is, where she is, or how to find her. Only that they must get to her to get the key to the chalice. So, yeah, uh – if anybody out there has Dan's number, or wants to give him mine, I'd love to work with him on Begging for Barabbas.
Failing that, I'll change Robert Langdon's character to one of my own (you know, once I'm famous in my own right) and poor Dan will always wonder -- could that have been his Robert? Unless he's read this blog, he'll never know for sure. But when I'm on Oprah -- what do you mean, there's no more Oprah? -- I'll reveal all, and talk about the fine readers here who always knew the truth...
Strangest person you’ve ever met?
Oh, for the record, I AM the strangest person I've ever met. And I'm stubborn. But then, you already knew that, too.
www.phylcampbell.wordpress.com <Author, Mother, Dreamer>
Mother Confessor (Book 1) Paperback:
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Mother Confessor (Book 2) Paperback:
Mother Confessor (Book 2) Kindle: