Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Tory Phoenix.
Thanks so much, Tory, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: If I were a Hollywood producer about to put your book on the big screen, who would you want me to cast as the leads?
Tory Phoenix: Oh, now that is a fun question. Actually had a dream, or three, on this very subject, so actually pretty easy.
Randy Orton from the WWE as Tory Phoenix.
Johnny Galecki (plays Leonard on Big Bang Theory) as Kyle Durlow.
Scarlett Johansson as Kate
Steven Yeun (Glen from Walking Dead) as Little Joe
Dwayne ′The Rock′ Johnson as Big Joe.
JSC: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Tory Phoenix: When? Ever since I have memory. I have always been good at spinning a tale, and plied that skill successfully as a RPG Game Master. I have taken great pride over the years to spinning a tale as Game Master that has my players splitting between threatening my life in one breath and demanding to know when the next session is in the next.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
TP: Voracious could be construed as an understatement. On at least three occasions I sat down with a series and didn’t move accept to use the bathroom, my mother dropping off sandwiches.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
TP: Genre – I′ve struggled with that up until recently. Then I found the Science Fantasy Genre, and I found myself home. Both my more mainstream, meaning SFW, and my erotica work, fall into the SciFan genre.
Style – That is a bit harder thing for me to answer. Primarily as I have not thought about it. I write. I try to be expressive and descriptive, and to write conversation the way people speak, which is not always in complete sentences. Some have found the conversation stilted because of that, others have loved it because it does sound like real people talking.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
TP: I′d live in my own. I know the world, perhaps better than the real world, and in knowing it, I could leverage that to really live large.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
TP: My first published work was a poem in a book of poetry from Poetry.com, and yes, I now realize that they are a bit less reputable than I knew at the time. My first real work will be the novel The Chaos Fountain. What will be, I hope, the first of many.
JSC: What’s your greatest weakness as a writer?
TP: Editing. When I read my own work, I know what is supposed to be there, and tend to drop back into the 4D movie when I′m reading it, so I find it hard to edit sometimes, okay…, a lot of the time. It is a lot of work to change gears to that mode. I can do it, but when I am done, it usually takes a week or two before I can shift back to ′writer′ mode.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
TP: My process…. Ah, but isn’t that a loaded question. I don′t currently have an office space or real work space. I pull the laptop up once my wife is asleep, usually around 10pm or so, turn on Pandora, pull up what I have been working on and wait. Sometimes I have to change the station on Pandora from Disturbed to Linkin Park to Haduken and Lindsey Sterling. Eventually Muse will make an appearance and the veil will part.
I find myself mentally transported to the world of my characters, and I do my best to faithfully record what I see and hear and experience. It is much like being in a 4D movie where you can change viewing angle in some scenes, occasionally have a choice in which direction things go, but for the most part, I am just along for the ride. That means that I experience the joy, and pain, of my characters as I record it, and on several occasions, it took me several days to get through a scene as I became overwhelmed by the events in question.
Once I get it written out, very flow of consciousness style, I then shift gears into editing and building it into a more coherent whole.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
TP: Oh! Another fun question. I had an crush on Kate for the longest time. But if I could, as in not married and able to do so, I′d go for Karl. Though you will have to wait for book two to meet him.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
TP: I have a lot I am working on right now in truth. I am working to complete the finalization, as I write this, of The Chaos Fountain, which should be released in soon. I have given up on specific dates until everything is finished and ready, because each time I give a date, something comes up that delays it. If all goes according to plan, I am currently hoping for a late February release, but as I have been burned by my estimates, that is a hoping for, not a hard date, yet. I am also addressing another edit on my first Erotica novel, and completing the alignment of the time-lines of two otherwise completed novels that happen, at least in part, parallel to each other.
And now for Tory’s forthcoming book: Chaos Fountain:
A chance encounter on the streets of San Diego rockets Kyle into a world where titans of industry have business meetings with gods, and he is dragged along for the ride.
Kyle quickly learns that not only are we not alone, but the universe is a far larger, more dangerous, weird, and wonderful place than even our worst nightmares dare consider. He finds love, adventure, new friends, death defying escapes, world shattering revelations about ancient universe spanning wars lost to forgotten histories, and a job unlike anything he could have imagined.
Pulled into a world of adventure, and set, like it or not, on a path to alter the very course of history. Kyle’s choices will alter the direction of not just his own life, but the destiny of the Earth, Humanity, and the very Universe itself.
He cut the connection, so I ordered the privacy off. I was a good 3 hours from Kate’s by public transport and a day on foot, even if I could see her apartment from where I was, she actually lives on the 352nd floor; there is a pressure field that keeps the wind at bay. So I spent five minutes and 300 credits on a taxi ride to the landing pad on her level. There was a package waiting for me when I got there, I signed for it and the mail-bot flew off to its next delivery.
I went inside and opened it. It held the other bracer on top. I put it on without thinking. The clothing was a matte black one piece jump suit, with boots and gloves to match. It looked to be skin tight. So I stripped and put it on, boots, gloves and all. It didn’t feel like I was wearing anything at all. Then the bracer started talking. Both of which had found their way outside the sleeves of the thing.
>Connecting to Polymorphic suit. Downloading control files. Downloading basic type morphs. Downloading variable and personal control software, Initializing. < Then it was quiet for a moment. Suddenly it asked me a question. I jumped, not expecting it. >What do you wish to be wearing sir? <
“What?” in confusion.
>The clothing you are presently wearing is an unstable, single molecular chain and can be morphed into the appearance of anything within a given volume. <
“Anything?” I asked in curiosity.
>Yes sir. What would you like? <
“Give me blue jeans, a red silk shirt, and square toed boots.” I was trying to stump the damn thing.
>Short or long sleeved?<
“Short.” I said.
I felt the material begin to move and after a moment it felt like I was wearing exactly what I had asked for. It also looked that way. Now I was really impressed. Within seconds I could have almost anything I could ask for. This was an actor’s dream. No more hours in wardrobe. Between this and a 4DGram, who needs special makeup effects?
I went through the few things I had at Kate’s, grabbing a few personal items, just for appearances, and because Kate had bought them for me. My watch, new wallet, necklace and a ring. The ring was a beautiful piece of carved asteroid stone, and through everything, it has survived. My watch.., dead, wallet.., gone, necklace.., melted, but the ring, sitting on my finger even now.
I used my key and walked into Joe’s. I was getting used to the feeling of euphoria as you passed across the threshold of the door. But I don’t think I will ever get used to the internal changes Joe’s goes through each time I go there.
I entered about five feet from the bar as always. It seems as though the door location in relation to the main bar and the main bar itself are the only constants with Joe’s. However that is where normality stopped. There were the usual tables and chairs near the bar, but the place had opened up. I had gone to a warehouse club/rave in L.A. with a friend once. This was twice that size, and three times the number of people.
When I was here last, the dance floor was about 20′ x 15′. I couldn’t even guess at the size of the place now, and the variety of people, the shapes and colors, it was a psychedelic riot moving in time to the thumping beat of a live DJ.
The DJ was up on stage working what looked like modern art, done with random pieces of electronics. It was loud, it was hard, it was fast, and I loved it. The bar itself was raised well above the floor so you got a good look at everything.
I jumped when a big hand was placed on my shoulder, when I turned to look at its owner, it was Big Joe. He pointed toward a table at the far end of the main bar area. I saw Tory there. Thanking Joe verbally was impossible, so I smiled and nodded. I then began threading my way towards Tory, even the bar proper was packed.
The guy on stage had started mixing in earnest. I swear I could almost see images in the music, like it was telling a story.
During the five minute transit to Tory’s table I got several good looks at the dance floor. There was 6 or 7 island bars evenly spaced across the dance floor. Each had at least 10 bartenders. Plus, a single continuous bar lined the floor against the walls with more tenders than I could count. It was astonishing.
Suddenly the sound vanished, to be replaced by a deafening silence. I then realized I was sitting with Tory at his table, and not sure how I got there. I had come to think of it as his table because he was the only person I ever saw sit there.
“Sorry about the privacy field Kyle, but you had gotten caught by the music. Billy’s mixing can be rather hypnotic at times, it’s why people like him so much.” Smiling at me, and leaning on the table. He was the usual black furred feline version of himself, wearing dark jeans and a black t-shirt with a stylized number two on the front.
Turning to face him in surprise. “No kidding!” I yelled, then shaking my head. “Sorry.” Quietly realizing what I had done.
Smiling even wider. “Don’t worry about it, I’ve done the same thing. So how have you been?”
Closing my eyes, and shaking my head to clear the last of the images and music from my mind, then looking back up at him. “Fine, all considered. I mean look at me. I’m wearing a pair of bracers which would allow me to take on a small country. My clothes are made of an unstable molecule, which is great by the way, even if I thought such things were only in comic books. Oh, and I am in love with an alien cat woman, who happens to be a particularly powerful telepath. Let me tell you about that some time.
But then, I don’t need to tell you do I? You are a lover of hers. I was. I should be jealous. Yet I have scraped my entire moral system and am working from scratch. All I know is that she loves me, but she also loves you.” He looked surprised at that. “Don’t act so surprised. Thing is, she refuses to chose, and doesn’t have to according to her moral system, which means that I could have a lover as well. Now that confuses me all to hell, and scares me, but I’m dealing. I am still getting over what I have been taught all my life, but it also makes the sex better.
I have spent the last 4 days playing tourist on an alien world, while wearing a holographic disguise which has substance. I was wearing the disguise because they don’t know humans exist yet. I took the alien I’m in love with, also wearing a disguise to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We haven’t even made first contact yet.”
“As far as the general public is concerned.” nonchalantly smiling.
Leaning back and shaking my head heavily. “Don’t say that. I don’t need to hear such things. I’m wearing a platinum necklace which cost her 120 credits, and a watch that cost 350. The chain is worth thousands on earth, and the watch. It’s a very simple thing really. However, it has technology in it which would make me billions back home. Like the miniature cutting laser for self defense, or the force field which acts like a miniature space suit and can stop bullets.
It tells time on 1500 different planets with local variations, including earth thanks to a quick hack added by Kap. It’s an emergency beacon, and has a computer link for surfing the local net, hell its processor is at least as powerful as a high end system at home. It uses a holographic projector and sensors for a screen and controls, as well as dozens of other features like a bio-monitor and a stop watch. It even has a back-light. Reality Check! Please! It looks like a Gods be damned G-shock from Earth!” I paused for a moment to take a deep breath. Tory was just looking at me, an odd smirk on his face. “Then there is this place.
I can get here by putting a key into the lock of any door, and I do mean any door, regardless of where I am. I’ve used my bathroom door for crying out loud. An internal door! When I look over to the bar, I see a guy in a business suit with a quiver for arrows over his shoulder, only problem.., in it is what I would call lightning bolts. Next to him is a slime mold eating something that looks like chili fries. At the end of the bar is a naked human woman, if you overlook the 4 arms, 4 tits, and 6 eye’s! The guy on the stage has a set of wings and a halo, but they are only kind of there, like a half seen image in a camera flash, with the exception of the steel gray-black skin, he looks relatively human.
And all of that doesn’t include the hundreds of bizarre, weird, oddly shaped and colored beings out on the dance floor. All of which are dancing inside a place that was about 50 feet by 20 feet when I first saw it, and seems to change dimensions in order to accommodate what is going on. Including adding extra bars.
Other than that, I’m not half bad, I mean my world view has been turned upside down, spun 180, shot, stabbed, drowned, impaled, blown up, anally raped, castrated, drawn and quartered, put on the rack, run through a blender, and burned at the stake.” Taking a big breath, “Otherwise I’m great. How are you doing?” With as much sarcasm as I could possibly muster.
He just turned on that irritating smile. “Not bad, had a good workout and a good sleep. You feel better now?” Raising an eye ridge.
Closing my eyes and breathing a heavy sigh. “Yeah, actually quite a bit, guess I just needed to get that off of my chest, sorry.”
As a point of note. At this point I had turned on the recording functions of the bracers. Hmm…. Well, look at that, I still haven’t turned them off. Ah, there we go. No need to have them on at the moment, not those recording functions anyway. Wait, that means….. Oh dear. I suspect Kate is going to want me to delete that.
“No problem. You are actually dealing with it all rather well. Better than I would have in your position.” Reaching over and patting me on the shoulder.
“Really? I didn’t think I was dealing with it at all. So is it morning for you yet?” Looking over at him resigned to my fate.
Smiling again with a slight laugh. “Yes, actually I was about to have breakfast. Care to join me?”
Figuring I had nothing to lose. “Sure, are we eating here?”
Shaking his head and standing up. “No. I cook for myself when I can. Besides I invited my first meeting to breakfast anyway. Shall we go?”
“Lead the way.” pausing to think. “What did she call you? Oh yeah. Honey buns.” He was halfway to standing when I said that. Anger flashed across his face, just ever so briefly. Then he sat down laughing.
Looking at me through tears of laughter. “She told you that?”
Smiling with a slight laugh. “It sort of slipped out when she was laying down the law.” I was still nervous around him. He has this intimidating quality, especially when laughing with his mouth open.
Getting the laughter under control. “Slipped out? What did she say?”
Sitting back and closing my eyes. “Let me think. It was.” Repeating what Kate had said to me. “If you think I am going to give up my honey buns just because you can’t get over some infantile jealousy, or some moronic moral code, you are seriously mistaken.” Shaking my head and smiling. “She is cute when she’s angry.”
“You’re telling me. I can never stay serious when she’s pissed, and that just makes it worse.” Shaking his head and laughing more.
Laughing as well. “I know. It’s terrible.”
Several chapters also available here: http://royalroadl.com/fiction/9470
Tory Phoenix is the name he has used online since the earliest days of the Internet, back when a 28K modem was considered top of the line, from back when Prodigy was a thing, AOL was new, and IRC chats and mail-groups were the hot online social constructs.
Writing under his actual name as D.C. Ballard, Tory has had many career’s. He served 6 years in the US navy, three of which were spend stationed overseas with a home base in Japan. Working as a welder and fitter in the Navy, he turned that into a short lived career in civilian life before and injury turned him to desk jobs working collections and Insurance before returning to school and becoming the ever so rare creature, the IT guy that actually speaks non-geek.
Now living in sunny Southern California. Tory is father to a beautiful daughter and married to an eternally patient and lovely wife who tolerates his late nights in front of the computer while she sleeps. Hacking out a few hundred to a few thousand words a night depending on how abusive muse is being that evening.
His upcoming work, Chaos Fountain, is a Space Opera featuring an every man plucked from his normal life on Earth and thrust into situation that leave him barely hanging on.