It was my pleasure to interview Philip Dodd, author of the light-hearted science-fiction novel “Klubbe and the Golden Star Coracle”. It was definitely a fun read and perfect for these summer days. You can read the full review here.
Below are my questions in italics followed by Philip’s complete, unaltered answers.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Philip Dodd. I was born in 1952, live in Liverpool, England, have a degree in English literature from Newcastle University, and I have been writing songs, poems and stories since I was twelve.
My first book, “Angel War“, was published in April, 2013, and my second book, “Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle”, was published in March, 2015. “Angel War” was chosen as a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards for 2013, I am pleased to say.
I have had poems published in my local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo, The Dawntreader, a quarterly poetry magazine, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and in Mallorn, the Journal of the Tolkien Society. One of my poems, The Redundancy of Gods, has been accepted for publication in Greek Fire, an anthology of poems, inspired by Greek mythology, to be published soon by Lost Tower Publications. I enjoy posting my poems on my WordPress blog and in the Poetry group on Goodreads and in poetry groups on Facebook, such as Uncaged Emotions.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
When I am not writing, I like to read, listen to music, go for a walk, and visit art galleries and museums in Liverpool. This year I enjoyed an exhibition of the surrealist paintings of Leonora Carrington at the Tate gallery, the Albert Dock, Liverpool, and I plan to visit the Mayan culture exhibition in the World Museum, Liverpool, which has come to the city from Mexico.
Has writing always been a passion of yours or one that came over time?
I have a clear memory of me as a twelve year old schoolboy scribbling with a pencil the lines of my first song, inspired by the love songs I had heard on the radio. It was a magical moment. To write in verse and prose is my one gift, which has ever been a wonder and a comfort to me.
Do you usually write in the science-fiction genre or do you delve into other genres as well?
My first book, Angel War, could be classed as a work of fantasy fiction, rooted in The Bible. I like to write serious as well as light verse. So after writing a very serious book, Angel War, I enjoyed writing my light-hearted science fiction story, Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle.
I understand that this book was inspired by a tiny toy model of a turtle, designed to fit on the end of a pencil. What was it about this little object that sparked such a creative tale?
What was strange about the tiny toy model of a turtle I found was that it stood upright on its hind legs, instead of lying on its stomach. So I decided it was not a turtle at all, but only a being which looked like one. I changed the second t in turtle to k to get turkle, then I decided that this particular turkle was called Klubbe and he lived on a planet called Ankor. It is odd to think that if I had not found the tiny toy model of the turtle, I never would have written my story. Because the turtle looked unique, a being that only looked like a turtle, he inspired me to give him his own home and biography.
Klubbe and the people of Ankor are such a model of harmony and cooperation compared to our suspicious natures here on Earth. Did you envision them this way from the beginning or did they evolve that way as the story progressed?
When I first thought of Klubbe and his fellow turkles living on Ankor, I decided that they would not have any enemies. Most of all, I wanted Klubbe to be happy. I even allowed him to marry a princess. I decided that my story would be the biography of an inventor alone, without any threat, conflict, negative forces or opponents.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
There is no real message in my story. I wrote it to amuse myself, as a tonic. Those who have read and reviewed my book so far have enjoyed it, which is wonderful for me. The reviews my book has had up to now has made the publishing of it more than worthwhile. I just want people to enjoy my story. That is all.
What was the hardest part of writing your book and what was the most enjoyable?
The hardest part of writing my book was getting passed Chapter One. For a long time all I had was a few fragments of what became Chapter One and I thought it would remain so, as a short tale. As the years went by, I added more fragments, until it became a proper story, the biography of an inventor. The most enjoyable part of writing my book was creating the first draft, joining all the parts together to make what could be considered a book.
Can you speak to any lessons learned from the self-publishing process?
It was when I fully faced what it meant that literary agents and publishers were only interested in publishing books that would sell not just hundreds but thousands of copies that I decided to self publish my books, and I am very glad I did. The idea of waiting for up to six months for a rejection letter from a literary agent did not appeal to me. Publishing paperbacks through Print On Demand is very sensible, I think, and I like to see my two books lodged on my Kindle. I have read quite a few books on book promotion. The main thing they say to me is that you should write the best book you possibly can, and that it is word of mouth most of all that sells books. It seems to me that only those who expect to make money out of their books are frustrated and saddened by the experience of self publishing them. I just wanted people to read and, hopefully, enjoy my stories. So I am more than pleased, for my stories and poems have passed the test, as far as I am concerned. Those who have read them like them, which is more than enough for me.
What are you working on now?
I have written a few fragments of a sequel to my Klubbe story, called Assinarc, which is the name of a star city he builds. It will take me a long time to make it into a complete story. Encouraged by the praise I have had for my poems on Goodreads, Facebook and my WordPress blog, I am working towards compiling a collection of my poems. As I have been writing verse since I was twelve, it would be good to have at least one book of my poems published.
Many thanks to author Philip Dodd for taking the time to be interviewed on Amid the Imaginary!
To learn more about the author and his work, explore his blog here