Author Interview: Phillip Frey
Hello Phil and great to have you here today. Please tell us a little background about you and when you started writing.
I was brought up in Cleveland, Ohio. The best part of my youth in Cleveland was working as a child actor at The Cleveland Playhouse. It was the beginning of my lifelong love of the arts.
Later while living in New York I performed with Joe Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, then with The Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center. I then switched careers and became an independent filmmaker, writing, directing, and editing 3 short films, one of which was shown at The New York Film Festival. Moving to Los Angeles I became a screenwriter. After many years as a screenwriter I turned to writing narrative fiction.
I didn’t start writing screenplays until I was in my thirties, and throughout my screenwriting career had always wanted to write a book.
What inspired you to write?
My mother was a writer, a freelance journalist. I suppose it was her doing, getting me to read. She had always wanted to write a novel but never did. Maybe in some psychological way I’ve brought her wish to fruition by writing the novel “Dangerous Times.”
When I was around 10 years old I read some of Edgar Allen Poe’s works and wanted to become a poet. My father had a lot of laughs about that one. But then a bit later while at The Cleveland Playhouse I turned my sights toward an acting career, though becoming a writer was always lurking beneath the surface.
How did you go from writing Dangerous Times to writing Hymn and Hur?
For “Hym and Hur” I had two characters in mind, started writing and surprised myself by not stopping, and then went through many drafts. It’s a comedy, so I think I needed to have some fun.
By the way, I’ve learned to trust myself, meaning that the characters are all I need to start writing something. I don’t need to know where things are going. The characters are what pushes me forward, they tell me where they want to go. That’s why I don’t do outlines. They force me to contrive situations to satisfy the outline.
What do you enjoy writing more, thrillers or paranormals?
I’ve read many, many crime and crime-thriller books and had always wanted to write one. For me, the self-reward of accomplishing the task is greater than writing in the paranormal genre.
I read that you did film gigs before, do you miss it? And if so, what do you miss most about it?
I don’t miss writing screenplays, maybe because I had done so many over the years. There is one thing I miss, though. I used to like meeting with producers, each one so different from the other, each quite interesting in the character vein. And then of course there were the free lunches and drinks.
What was your inspiration in writing Hymn and Hur?
I have no memory of where the “Hym and Hur” idea had come from. It’s pure fantasy, with humor.Or maybe the inspiration was more like having to purge myself after having written “Dangerous Times,” a down-and-dirty, hard-boiled crime-thriller novel.
What are 5 things that people don’t know about Phillip Frey as a writer?
- My day ends at around 6 p.m. I get into bed, read a bit, and then I’m off to dreamland. I get up around 2:30 a.m. and work at my desk for about 4 hours. The reason for this is that there are no interruptions while I’m writing—no one else is awake, no phone calls.
- I live alone and like it. When it comes to the writing I can think and work better with no one around.
- You may hate me for this, but I’m not fond of dogs. They’re too demanding. If I had one, I’m certain it would be another kind of writing interruption. Though I do love wolves, from a distance.
- I like a good challenge. For me, writing fiction is harder than writing screenplays. When it comes to fiction I have to work hard on syntax. For the narrative parts of screenplays there’s no need to worry about it; screenplay readers don’t care about it. For both fiction and screenplays dialogue is another matter because we mostly speak in the vernacular.
- I have an electric cup warmer next to the computer. Drinking something warm or hot while I work is one of my writing tools. Another tool is a pen and pad for quick notes about what I’m working on. Another is to have music on low in the background.
Any work in progress?
Maybe I have a split personality. I’m working on a “Dangerous Times” sequel while also working on another “Hym and Hur” story.
Describe Hymn and Hur in a sentence.
In this fantasy-comedy a magical couple get into big trouble when they try to play a prank on humankind while attempting to do a good deed for an earthbound couple.
Thank you Phil for dropping by. Good luck on your books and before you go, where can the readers find you?
http://www.phillipfrey.com. It’s where you can see both books with reviews, along with the direct links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc
Hym and Hur are a young couple who never age and have been in love for more than a century. They also possess an array of magical abilities, two of which are either to play pranks on humankind or to perform good deeds. Enacting both at the same time is now what gets them into trouble, especially since it’s the unruly character of Death they must deal with to bring their plans to fruition.
The prank Hym and Hur have come up with must first be agreed upon by Death, who happens to be a rambunctious, difficult character. Once agreed upon, the prank is set in motion. Hym and Hur soon discover Death had tricked them into a contract with dire consequences for all of us.
During their attempt to break the contract, Hym and Hur try to save the relationship of an earthbound couple, knowing they are truly meant for each other. A good deed that will bring Hym and Hur even more trouble.
DANGEROUS TIMES is a contemporary noir crime-thriller with dark humor and the pull of the unpredictable. This book is not for the squeamish. It begins as a creepy slow burner that leads to sex, violence, murder, and betrayal.
Frank Moore’s impish playfulness makes him an alluring antagonist — an evil criminal who has come up with an outrageous, malevolent plan. After a frustrating search he has finally found the key to its success. Frank has found his look-alike, a close-enough double: John Kirk.
In the harbor city of San Pedro, John Kirk leads a troublesome life, common troubles that fall by the wayside when Frank Moore comes to town. John Kirk, hunted down and pegged for death without knowing why.
Phillip Frey grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where he performed as a child actor at The Cleveland Playhouse. The day after he graduated high school he moved to Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College. Phillip enrolled in their Theater Arts Department and performed in many of their plays while also performing in local theater.
He then moved to New York where he performed with The New York Shakespeare Festival, followed by The Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center. With a change of interest Phillip wrote, directed, and edited 3 short films, all of which had international showings, including The New York Film Festival.
With yet another change of interest he returned to Los Angeles to become a produced screenwriter. And now more recently, “Dangerous Times” and “Hym and Hur” are Phillip Frey’s first works of fiction.