I love Haven Wakes; a tale of magic and robots. It is my pleasure to share an interview with its author Fi Phillips while I wait for the next book in the Haven Chronicles series.
For many years Fi Phillips worked in an office environment until the arrival of her two children robbed her of her short term memory and sent her hurtling down a new, bumpy, creative path. She finds that getting the words down on paper is the best way to keep the creative muse out of her shower.
Fi lives in the wilds of North Wales with her family, earning a living as a copywriter, playwright and fantasy novelist.
Writing about magical possibilities is her passion.
You can follow Fi on social media
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FiPhillipsWriter
Twitter - https://twitter.com/FisWritingHaven
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/fiphillipswriter/
or check out her website http://fiphillipswriter.com/blog/
Tell me about your book(s)
My debut novel, Haven Wakes, was published by Burning Chair in October 2019. It’s a futuristic fantasy – think magic and robots – centred around 12 year old Steve Haven and a dark fairy character known only as the darkling.
When Steve’s Uncle Rex - founder of the globally renowned Haven Robotics Corporation - is murdered, a mystery man delivers a magical device, the Reactor, to Steve at school. This marks the beginning of a dangerous adventure which plunges Steve into a hidden world of magic where he must stop the Reactor falling into the hands of his uncle’s murderer.
Book two of the Haven Chronicles series is in the works at the moment and picks up about a week after the end of Haven Wakes. Steve and his new magical friends must face the consequences of their actions and fight a new, powerful foe.
Haven Wakes - https://burningchairpublishing.com/product/haven-wakes/
Burning Chair - https://burningchairpublishing.com/
How does a story begin for you? Is it an idea, a conversation, a title, or an image?
It varies. Sometimes, it’s a character. For instance, the beginnings of Haven Wakes were tightly bound to the darkling and another character in the book called Hartley Keg.
Other times, a situation will present itself, a what-if. That was the inspiration for the novel I want to work on after the Haven Chronicles.
Did you plan out the Haven Chronicles or are you taking it one book at a time?
I know how the series will end and I know the steps that Steve and the darkling have to take to get there. How many of those steps happen in each book is a little less decided though.
I like to work with that level of flexibility and see where the story takes me.
What was your favourite research activity you have done for a book?
For Haven Wakes, it was definitely the sci fi elements. The tech and gadgetry in the novel are all based on scientific developments in our world right now.
For book two, one particular favourite piece was finding out about space robots being used on the International Space Station – the Astrobees.
What do you consider your greatest writing accomplishment? And which was your biggest challenge?
My greatest writing accomplishment is being published, and it was my biggest challenge too.
I spent a long time (as in ‘years’) approaching literary agents but with no success. Even the agents who liked Haven Wakes weren’t willing to take a chance on it.
It wasn’t until I contacted Burning Chair that anyone believed in my novel as much as I did.
What writing advice have you been given that really helped you?
It’s as simple as ‘write’. You can’t edit and improve a blank page. Get the words down, without making alterations, and then see what you have and whether it can be polished into a gem.
What would you do if you didn’t write?
Be a very sad person. ☹
No, being serious, I would probably still be working as a PA, although in today’s pandemic, it would be as a VA working from home.
I don’t think I could survive without some level of creativity though. Maybe I’d return to making jewellery and my artwork.
Has a book really touched you? Made you rethink your views on life? If so, what was it?
Most recently, the cli fi novel 10:59 by N R Baker stopped me in my tracks. It’s incredibly pertinent during the pandemic and, without wanting to give the plot away, it reveals the kind of decisions that worldwide governments might be forced to make if we don’t sort out the environmental crisis.
You are stuck on a desert island and can choose: one of your own characters, a character from someone else’s book, a famous person to join you. Who do you choose?
From my own characters, it would have to be Hartley Keg, if only for the entertainment factor.
From someone else’s book, I’d choose Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant. Having said that, we might have to get used to seeing a skeleton lying around in bathing-shorts.
Someone famous? I would love to meet Lucy Davis from The Office (UK), Wonder Woman, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She’s so funny, optimistic, and just generally fabulous.
Skulduggery Pleasant - https://www.skulduggerypleasant.co.uk/characters/#characters-1
Lucy Davis - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0205063/
What is your ultimate dream as a writer?
To keep getting my books out there on people’s book shelves. I intend to keep writing until the very end. I’ll have to if I want to complete all the book ideas I’ve stored up.
Anything else you want to share? Maybe some advice
Don’t ever compare yourself, to another writer or another person. You are you, and they are they. You are the only person inside your head, and nobody can see the world just the way you can.