IndieView with Phoenix Elvis Nicholson, author of Appalachian Phantoms

Oh, there are always struggles in writing. Anyone who denies this is either lying to themselves or you. Or they’re not faithful to their audience.

Phoenix Elvis Nicholson – 30 May 2017

The Back Flap

Friends from Bruceton Mills, West Virginia investigate the unknown.

About the book

What is the book about?

Appalachian Phantoms is about a diverse group of acquaintances investigating strange happenings in the Bruceton Mills area of West Virginia.

When did you start writing the book?

The genesis of this work came about after meeting some folks at a birthday celebration lovingly referred to as Millstock.

How long did it take you to write it?

In December 2016 it was published. I started writing it soon after that early July birthday party, urged on by stories my family was burdened with. They weren’t too keen on listening, so I retreated to my study and a few months later, Tada!

Where did you get the idea from?

During a brief trip to a purportedly haunted barn/farmhouse owned by family relatives that had been for years shuttered.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Oh, there are always struggles in writing. Anyone who denies this is either lying to themselves or you. Or they’re not faithful to their audience.

What came easily?

Starting from page one and going to the final chapter’s end, at least for the rough draft.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

For the first time, I have drawn from actual people met. Names are changed to protect the guilty and easily embarrassed.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I grew up loving Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov and Frank Stockton. I tried reading a few novels by other famous authors and found them great for bringing on sleep before the second chapter. How these and other authors have inspired me, well, I’ve always enjoyed being entertained and having my imagination challenged. James Patterson always thrilled me with how he wasted no time in getting the action started from the get go. I have always wanted to reach that effect.

Do you have a target reader?

As far as age groups, no. My hope is that anyone who enjoys the hobby of reading and gravitates towards the unusual will also gravitate towards my stories.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Certainly. Glad you asked. Proud of my eclectically adorned study. Take your time looking around. You’ll see some influences and odd props hanging about, such as the lava lamp, the Necronomicon, the 1930 Sears catalogue, the 1920 typewriter, and of course the multiple incense burners. I fire up the huge capacity CD Changer, turn the volume up to Deafness, light up some incense and try to escape any other interference. You’ll notice right away there’s no telephone in here. Part of the process begins with the right mental attitude. Reality gets shut out and the trance begins. Not a real trance, but bear with me…

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Everything depends upon the material being attempted.  For instance, with my first book, Trilogy White Stone (Book 1 Cousin Bertie), the approach was simply chaining myself to the typewriter and pounding out everything that happened. Honestly, I found sleeping extremely difficult after visiting her home.

Most times, it’s just a matter of knowing where to start and end the story and then filling in the rest, hoping that nothing important is forgotten along the way.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Usually, it’s all stream of consciousness. A few passages in Appalachian Phantoms were done in varying stages of unconscious streams of thought.

Did you hire a professional editor

Oh, yeah, I sort of evaded the other question, forgive me. Anyways, yes, and no. I edit as I go along, sleep on it a bit, wake up around, oh, some ungodly hour, and then trip over the cats on my way to the study. By the time my teenager needs a ride to the bus stop, she’ll snap me out of it and let me know it’s time to go. That’s where the work ends for that day. Only professional I ever “hired” was an online service for the first book’s cover. (I did call in a favor by the ultra-talented Cheryl Looker for the 4th book’s cover.)

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Heh, as said before, I love the ambience music provides. Depending upon my personal mood, I might fill the jukebox with Queen, Franz Liszt, Willie Nelson, AC/DC, Etta James, Styx, Alan Parsons Project, Frank Zappa, Susan Tedeschi, Primus, Beethoven, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Aerosmith, or any of a dozen different bands. (CD collection of 600 and growing.) My taste is all over the place, just like the voices that inspire. Some call them muses. I call them friends.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I did try. Not being very good at rejection, I took it upon myself to get all of these ideas out there quickly as possible. Biggest impetus was my daughter. Close to thirteen at the time, she wrote on my dry erase board, “You can do the stuff, so do the stuff. I believe in you.”  I look at that every day. At times it makes me tear up.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

After reaching a certain age, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe goals are more than lofty. Many will say they’re unattainable. My dream was publishing one book before passing away. With the wonderful encouragement of my daughter, I decided to simply do it on my own. In honor of her age, many of my books only had 13 chapters.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Book 1’s cover was done by an online service, book 4 by Cheryl, the rest by yours truly.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

No plans as of yet other than getting all these ideas and voices in my head out and onto paper, sharing it with the reading world. Should monetary success happen, great! If not, at least I got my stories in print.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Don’t ever give up. Age is only a number not a death sentence. Surround yourself with at least a handful of people who support you and are honest enough to tell you whether your words are good or not.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Born in Washington DC, raised in the suburbs of Forestville, Maryland. Served in the US Army for 9 years, US Park Police and as an officer in the Pentagon. Also, worked plenty of odd jobs like the Savannah (Georgia) Theatre Company, Humane Society, Domino’s Pizza…

Where do you live now?

With second wife and second daughter in Mechanicsville, Maryland. Currently entertaining seven freeloading cats.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I would love to be accepted into some ghost hunting society.

What are you working on now?

Appalachian Phantoms 2 & 3, Goblin 2, Siblings (7th part and end of Trilogy White Stone / Sky Not Empty collection), Guest Services and a few other titles. No moss growing here.

Thanks for talking with me. Maybe next time we’ll meet at your place. You bring the wine, I’ll bring the Ouija Board.

End of Interview:

For more from Phoenix visit his website. follow him on Twitter, or like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of Appalachian Phantoms from Amazon US or Amazon UK.


2 responses to “IndieView with Phoenix Elvis Nicholson, author of Appalachian Phantoms

  1. I am so sorry to have forgotten mentioning my friend Michael Humbert for his massive contributions to Goblin : Hobart Without his imaginative artwork, the book would not have had such an effective impact.

  2. Susie Parker

    I love “You can do the stuff, so do the stuff. I believe in you.” I have a ouija board that Gary gave me,.. if you are serious. 🙂