Saturday, September 9, 2017

Phil Stephens: The IAN Interview

Phil Stephens

Phil Stephens is an Indiana native and a graduate of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, and of the Dale Carnegie Course. He spent many years working in Fortune 500 America. Raised in a solidly Catholic family, he attended Catholic grade schools in the 1960s and served as an Altar Boy. His writing has appeared in the local newspaper and Pen IT literary magazine. His passions include reading in his favorite genres—history and horror. He also enjoys cooking, exercising, and the environment. Stephens resides in beautiful Brown County in Southern Indiana with his wife Marie, and has an adopted granddaughter, Crystal Maiden, in the Philippines.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Phil StephensBlack-robed nuns, priests, bishops, the select fraternity of Altar Boys, and the ancient ceremonies of the Catholic Church. Music of the ’60s, boyhood shenanigans, Cootie doctors, and coming of age. Set in the socially and politically tumultuous period of the 1960s, The Altar Boy is the fictionalized memoir of Carl Sanders, a funny, sensitive kid, who’s caught in the middle when his family is fractured by the intrusions of a priest. We follow Carl's confusion and pain as he watches the pious fa├žade of the Church fall away to reveal unholy carte blanche, cover-ups, and collusion.

The book opens in the late 1980s. Carl and his brother down beer after beer at a favorite pub, trying to piece together their family’s chaotic past. The stakes are high—someone is about to return after a 20-year absence, threatening to re-ignite the family conflict. As the brothers’ painful recollections of their past become more traumatic, Carl drifts back in time to the era he tried for so many years to forget. 

The story is realistic, poignant, and at times very funny. Stephens shines a timely spotlight on the then-unquestioned power of the Church, while taking the reader back to the ’60s era of rock & roll, Catholic schools, social upheaval, and boyhood pranks.

IAN: Is The Altar Boy published in print, e-book or both?

Phil Stephens: It is currently published in print only.

IAN: Where can we go to buy The Altar Boy?

Phil Stephens: It is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

IAN: What inspired you to write The Altar Boy?

Phil Stephens: True events...and a story that needed to be told.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Phil Stephens: Some chapters I outlined and some I winged.

IAN: How long did it take to write The Altar Boy?

Phil Stephens: Longer than I'm willing to admit.

IAN: How did you come up with the title? 

Phil Stephens: I wanted a title that conveyed the subject matter of the book and grabbed the reader.

IAN: How much The Altar Boy of is realistic?

Phil Stephens: Most all of it.

IAN: How is The Altar Boy different from others in your genre?

Phil Stephens: Very little has ever been written about this subject.

IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?

Phil Stephens: David Halberstam (The Reckoning), Sun Tzu (The Art of War) and Carl Sagan (Contact)

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Phil Stephens: Yes, if my first novel takes off.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Phil Stephens: It is one of the few things I have a talent for.

IAN: Who designed the cover?

Phil Stephens: I did.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Phil Stephens: Finding the time to do it.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Phil Stephens: First of all START the book and then FINISH it.  Don't give up.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Phil Stephens: It is a stand-alone novel titled "On The Edge of the Stairs." A story of a young couple very much in love and planning their wedding but then the girl dies in a tragic accident.  As the woman lay dying she vows to the man she will reincarnate herself and come back to him.  And she does.