Interview with Phil Farina

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Author of Reflections

Scary Short Story Contest Winner

1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

I write novels dealing with the supernatural. My works are usually in the 80,000 word category, so I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could develop a full story in less than 2,500 words. I saw this as a literary challenge. I have always been fascinated with Halloween and the lore that goes with it. So the challenge to write a short story with a supernatural bent was right  up my alley!

Back in history Samhain, the end of the harvest, was a time when darkness prevailed. The lore and superstitions mark this time as a period when the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest. It was once thought that a mirror was a portal to the dead. So what if it were true?  I wanted to write something using this  theme.  Hence the concept of using Halloween as the precept for allowing a demon to come through a mirror was born.  

2) What made you decide to enter this “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest?

I love to write. I love to tell a story. I love the supernatural, so we had the trifecta! I saw it as an opportunity to determine if I was any good as a short story writer. I do have 3 novels published, so that is one thing, but a short story, well that’s much more difficult. I began writing this story, as I do will everything I write, with no concept of beginning, middle or end. The story has to write itself, I am only the medium to get the word on the page. I am often as surprised as my readers as to where the story goes. With Reflections, I became part of the story myself, so it was an easy task to complete.

 3) Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I like Dean Koontz the best. His supernatural stories have the air of “possible”  rather than having to completely have a “willing suspension of disbelief” to allow the story not to be nonsense. Dean does not require this to the extent of  say Stephen King, whose stories are much further beyond reality. By the way I love Stephen’s books as well!

I also like the Ann Rice Vampire stories. Again they are truly “possible” in that nothing really happens that is outside the concept of  “under certain conditions” that may actually be true. She also writes in a fluid style that brings the reader into the story. I think for a reader to enjoy the story, they must become part of the story.

In my novels I use this concept of “possible” story lines. I also bring the reader into the story by using the first person voice, much like Ann did in Interview with a Vampire. I think it is more interesting for the reader to read “from the inside” rather than from “the outside”

 4) What is your favorite book you read this year and why?

That’s a tough one. With a full time job and a writing career I really don’t have much time for reading. I would say that the novel I enjoyed the most this year was Origin by Michael Crichton. I went to Thailand on vacation and read this book in one sitting on the plane on the way over. It was fascinating in every regard. I felt I was part of the book right there along with the lead characters trying to solve the mystery. Everything in the book, was possible even probable. How we are giving over our society to AI and the possible effect it may have on the human condition is fascinating… and frightening.

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

Writing must come from deep within. Write as if you are talking to someone. Write from what you know. Let the story come alive, be a part of the story and bring your readers into the story with you. If you are writing a fact based story, please check your facts from multiple sources. Nothing will kill this type of story faster that inaccurate facts. If you are writing fiction, sprinkle in some facts. I wrote a story about GRAVESEND Brooklyn. It was completely fictional but I spread facts about people places and events throughout so that people actually checked the facts and began to believe the story was true.

Make it fun, if writing a story line is a chore, kill it. You will not be happy and if you are not happy the reader will be miserable. Most of all, enjoy what you are doing. A good story will write itself. Let the characters come alive. Let them be real, have their own voice and they will reward you with a great novel.