Quickfire questions with Gillian Phillip
Gillian Philip lives in the north of Scotland with her husband, ten-year-old twins, two dogs, two cats, a slayer hamster, three chickens and several nervous fish. She writes anything that comes into her head, including fantasy, crime, science fiction and horror. Her books include Bad Faith, Crossing The Line, The Opposite of Amber and (for Hothouse Fiction) the Darke Academy teen horror series. Firebrand, the first of four novels about the Scottish Sithe, was published last year and the second episode, Bloodstone, comes out this August. She has been writing all her life, but has also tried proper jobs as a record store assistant, theatre usherette, barmaid, sales rep, political assistant, radio presenter, typesetter, and singer in an Irish bar in Barbados.
Which 3 writers, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
Christopher Hitchens, Richard Holloway and CS Lewis. That ought to be good.
What's your favourite writing snack?
Coffee and an occasional cigarette… which I’m giving up. (No, honestly I am.) I like being slightly hungry while I’m writing. It’s harder to write when I’ve just eaten.
Longhand or computer?
Longhand notes and then computer all the way. I’m more inclined to lose notebooks (or have them eaten by dogs) than I am to delete files accidentally.
Win Booker prize or land Hollywood film deal?
Oh, Hollywood film deal, no question. But I’d want dibs on the casting couch.
Tabloid or broadsheet?
Broadsheet, usually the Times. But I stand in Tesco for ages reading the good bits in the tabloids. And I love a good Sun headline. They are an underrated art form.
Independent bookshop or Amazon?
Both. And my lovely local Waterstones. Um, I buy too many books.
Hacker or adder? (in terms of editing)
Adder. I have to race to get the plot down because I need to find out what actually happens (see following answer). I like going back and adding in scenes and conversations and incidents. It feels positively relaxing.
Plotter or panter?
Seat of pants. I start with a scene and a character. But I like to have an idea where it’s going by about halfway through or I start to panic.
Leave on a cliffhanger or tell all?
Complete cliffhangers are annoying. Even in a series I like to round off any particular episode of the story into a sort-of ending. But tell all? Heck, I don’t even KNOW all.
You really must read…
How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen. And every single Calvin & Hobbes book ever. That strip is a masterpiece of storytelling, draughtsmanship, character, conciseness, care, and knowing when to stop.
I get most excited by…
The lightbulb moment when I see how a book is going to work without everyone dying.
If I wasn’t a writer I would be…
Incredibly bored and boring, and trying to retrain as a forester.
An author should always…
Avoid self-indulgence. Except with whisky, pasta and chocolate.