Author Interview: C Phillip
C Phillip is a self-published author and entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India. She writes action-packed historical fiction, murder mystery and fantasy books with a generous helping of romance, suspense and strong female leads. The Last Nautch Girl is her debut novel. Fated to Live is her latest book release.
When not writing, Phillip is engaged in active research on Women Empowerment in Ancient India.
I recently finished Fated to Live, and adored it. The story of a fugitive princess in an enemy kingdom, the book features an eclectic mix of women in STEM, history, Indian culture, and magic. You can read my full review here.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been reading books since I was 9 years old. Somewhere along the way I found my love for writing. During my teenage years, I wrote a couple of short stories for children's magazines and also consistently contributed to my school magazine. At that time, I never thought of writing as a career.
In 2000, I bought a copy of Stephen King’s book On Writing (1st Edition). By then, I was already a long-time fan of King’s work. The book inspired and scared me at the same time. It made me realize my affinity for creative writing as well as my absurdly poor skills in that area. My favorite line from the book is – The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
For the next twenty years, while pursuing a different professional career, I also kept studying about creative writing, penned many stories and worked on imroving my craft. In 2019, I published my first book, The Last Nautch Girl. Since then, I have published three more books and I am currently working on the sequels.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My ideal time to write is 6-8am. That’s when I feel the most inspiration and I can do writing sprints very quickly. During the last two years, I was lucky enough to get a lot of writing down in this time slot.
Since I also run a small business, I always plan my week in advance but keep it flexible. Currently, due to various reasons, my writing time is distributed during the day. I use my own tracking sheet for projects as well as marketing strategies.
When I’m writing, my main focus is my current WIP. One full hour is dedicated to writing sprints. Depending on the day of the week, the next hour gets juggled between planning, outlining, editing, marketing, blogging, and social media posts. Basically, all of it is some form of writing and story-telling.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My ideas come from reading. I like to read a large variety of books from children’s fiction to comics to mainstream romance, purely for the joy of it. But nothing else can inspire me to write like reading does. I also do extensive research, both online and offline, to help me develop my idea into a viable story.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Owl - intuition, knowledge and change.
Intuition is my key to understanding my characters and their way of thinking.
Seeking knowledge is a key empowerment trait for my MC in all my stories.
Adapting to change in a positive and practical manner is the underlying message that I wish to impart to all my readers.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
The Last Nautch Girl is my debut novel published in 2020. It’s a historical fiction and murder mystery series based in colonial India.
Fated to Live is my latest book release. It’s a historical fantasy romance series based in a parallel universe of ancient India.
Currently, I’m working on the next books in both series and a contemporary horror series.
The Prince and the Flute Player is a short story written by me and featured in Children of War, an anthology to support the children of Ukraine, which is releasing on 24th August. This has to be my current favorite because it has a child protagonist who is living through war, it is based on one my favorite childhood stories, and it gives me an opportunity do something for the children in Ukraine as well as work with many indie authors that I have come to admire through their books.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Find your own time to write.
When I began writing The Last Nautch Girl, I was under the wrong impression that you must write at certain times of the day, you must write everyday and you must write even when you can’t. I learnt the hard way that this doesn’t work for everyone.
It’s better to find your own time. Maybe you’re a night person. Maybe you can only write on weekends. Maybe you need a day off from writing every week to recharge. When you find that particular day, hour and minute, you will see your best work coming through. However, it’s also important to be consistent and follow a schedule to avoid procrastination.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Definitely energizes me. Like all writers, I love writing. But I do take a day off every week to pace myself and avoid burnout.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Thanks to Instagram, I have met a lot of author friends and they all have helped me become a better writer. But I am listing some of them that also inspire me with their work.
Martine Carlsson, author of Light of Aphelion series, is one of my first author friends. She mainly writes dark LGBTQ+ fantasy and her writing is outstanding. She also gives the best feedback as a beta-reader. My writing has truly improved a lot with her inputs.
Donna White, author of The Whitmere Legacy series, is an incredibly talented writer and a wonderful human being. Her advice on trigger warnings really helped me understand how to give the best reading experience in my work. She makes the most beautiful bookstagrams too. I’m truly grateful to know her as a writer and a friend.
Astrid V.J. is an award-winning and USA today best-selling author, who is also the host of Children of War Anthology. Her superb books, her untiring support of indie authors, and her zeal to make a difference in the world truly inspires me every day.
Devon Gambrell is my friend and critique partner. Her advice on my WIP is clear, focused and full of encouragement. She reads a variety of genres and likes to make a meaningful connection with talented indie authors. Her debut novel is The Witch's Crystal, a high fantasy story that I am looking forward to seeing published. Like me, Devon is also an active member and Brand Ambassador for The Writer Community.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Ashenden by Somerset Maugham. It’s published 34 years before the 1st James Bond novel, and based on the author’s real life experience as a British agent during WWI. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I truly believe it’s the most under-appreciated book on espionage.
What do you have coming next?
My short story, The Prince and the Flute Player is featured in Children of War Anthology, which is about to release this month. It is an adaptation of a well-known and much-adored folktale in India, which has been my favorite since childhood. I've given it a fantasy and horror twist, inspired to some extent by my own life experiences. This story is slightly different from what I usually write since the theme was to have at least one child growing up in war. Still it was a lot of fun to write.
Here’s the blurb - A little prince, searching the Dark Forest for a legendary magical mango, befriends a mysterious flute player who will do anything to protect the boy from creatures both living and supernatural.
Children of War Anthology is a multi-genre collection of short stories exploring the experiences of children trapped in war, from a diverse group of 14 authors around the globe.
All proceeds of this anthology will be donated in perpetuity to Voices of Children Foundation in Ukraine or another similar charity. No one’s potential should be crippled because of trauma inflicted during their most impressionable years, and yet an entire generation of Ukrainians is threatened with just this outcome.
Releasing later this month on August 24th, the work includes multiple genres including Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Memoir, and Fantasy. Check out this list of amazing titles:
Child of Destruction by USA Today Bestselling author, Astrid V.J.
Jonah by C. Borden
The Tarnished Key by Susan Stradiotto
Not Dead, Just Sleeping by Darrah Steffen
The Dragon’s Demise by Daan Katz
The Prince and the Flute Player by C. Phillip
Through Vira’s Eyes by MJ Krause-Chivers
A Mermaid’s Tears by J.C. Seal
The War Legacy by Nandita Pant Joshi
A Vampire’s Heart by I. Vélez
A Child of Minidoka by Joan T. Seko
The Borrowed Life by Elena Shelest
Through the Eyes of a Child by Pam Floyd
The Curse of Blood by Lauren Merewether
Advance Review Copies of Children of War are still available. Those interested in reading and reviewing the anthology can sign up here.
You can also preorder it here.