Hey lovely bookworms, as promised I have a special blog post… An Author Interview with the amazing M.A Phipps (Molly Phipps). Author of Ultraxenopia and Type X, A Project W.A.R Novel.
Upon discovering the brilliant Ultraxenopia, and being submerged in a world of terrorism and oppression, following Wynter Reeves on her gruelling journey of suspense and discovery.
My dreams have been haunted and my mind lost, obsessing over what will happen next! Hugely anticipating Type X… Which I’m so close to devouring! So look out for more fan art and a review.
Anyway, here is what Molly had to say, as she kindly answered all of my questions. Enjoy. ☺️
Meet Molly Phipps. 💜
“As I’m sure you’ve already gathered, my name is M. A. Phipps, and I’m an American fiction author living in the UK. From the time I was a small child, I remember having a passion for literature, but it went so much further than the normal day-to-day dreams we tend to have as kids. Sure, there were moments when I wanted to be an astronaut or a ballerina (or yes, even a wizard), but the one thing that never left my mind was how much I loved books and how amazing it would feel to see my name on the cover of something I had written. It’s been a handful of years since I began seriously writing fiction, and now I can finally say that dream has become a reality.
On the more personal side of things, I’m the wife of a hunky Brit and also a mother to one rambunctious (but adorable) little girl. I also have an equally crazy Jack Russell Terrier named Milo. Although I was raised in the US, I’ve lived in the UK for the better part of a decade now. I’m a big time movie buff, and I love comparing books to their film counterparts. You will never hear me say, “BUT THAT WASN’T IN THE BOOK!” probably because film studies was a huge part of my major at college. Oh, and I feel it needs to be said that I am quite possibly the biggest Lord of the Rings nerd alive.
In regards to my writing, I want to explore every genre of fiction possible. I want to test myself, explore the farthest reaches of my imagination, and above all, share my stories with the world.”
1. If you get my emotions running wild, then for me, you’ve nailed it! A book should make you cry, laugh and even curse! And I’m definitely guilty of all of the above. Your book, Ultraxenopia hit my emotional levels to the maximum… so I was wondering, when writing these amazing, nail-biting moments, do you too, have your emotions whacked up high?
You know, it’s been a while since I actually wrote Ultraxenopia (I wrote it back in 2014), so I can’t really remember what I was feeling at the time. Saying that, what I love about writing first person perspective is you really get to dive into the character’s head and allow yourself to feel what they’re feeling. So yeah, I suppose my emotions do get whacked up a bit when writing.
2. Speaking of scenes, I’m dying to know, what was your favourite scene? And did you struggle with it or did it come easy?
As grim as it sounds, I really loved writing the torture scenes during Wynter’s time at the DSD. She has this amazing sort of “Dr. Frankenstein and his monster” relationship with Dr. Richter that I just find so interesting to explore.
What’s really fascinating to me is that I’ve actually had people message me and say they could really feel Wynter’s pain in those scenes, as if I’ve experienced that sort of agony to allow me to write it so believably. It never occurred to me before that, but I’ve struggled with a few physical disabilities in my life that have caused me quite a severe amount of pain and hardship, so I suppose that’s why those scenes were so easy for me to convey. I could get in Wynter’s head and remember what that pain felt like—even if the actual cause for mine was way different.
3. I believe inspiration for writing is everywhere, but was there anything in particular that inspired you to write this story?
There were a lot of inspirations for the story in Project W. A. R., many of which have roots in history. The DSD, for example, was inspired by Unit 731 which was an experimental weapons testing unit of the Japanese army based in China during WWII. Long story short, they tested biological weapons on human subjects, resulting in the deaths of approximately 3,000 people at that camp alone and a further 300,000 from subsequent use of the weapons they created thanks to human experimentation.
The State itself actually came about from two inspirations. When we’re first introduced to Wynter’s world, it’s very much your sort of technologically advanced version of the totalitarian regime of North Korea. Its origins, however, hold more similarities to how Nazi Germany operated, which readers will get a glimpse of in the sequel, Type X.
Aside from the grim stuff, I based Jenner on Jim Sturgess because I just love him and he has the sweetest smile.
4. One of the hardest part to read was when they were testing on Wynter- I was so worried about her, I was full on going crazy, shouting at the Book, desperately wanting her to punch Richter right in the face! I imagine it would be a hard scene to write, it was so emotional. So what was the hardest scene to write?
I actually found the torture scenes to be among the easiest to write (as creepy as that is). The scenes I struggle with tend to be the scenes of long dialogue—not the actual dialogue itself, but all the filler (ie. what everyone is doing between the dialogue). Saying that, I might be projecting a bit with my latest WIP and how gruelling that often was to write. I don’t remember there being any particularly difficult scenes to finish in either Ultraxenopia or Type X.
5. As much as I hate , I also love Dr Richter… you have written the perfect bad guy in my opinion. He as a past that you can’t help but feel for, he is creepy and cute. He is ruthless and cunning and I don’t think there is a limit to what he is capable of… so which do you prefer to write, the villain or the hero?
I’ll admit, I really do enjoy writing villains. I think I have a knack for them and there’s just something so fun about writing a character who has zero reservations and is willing to do just about anything to get what they’re after. The hero usually has to show a bit more emotional restraint whereas with the villain, you can cut loose a little. I enjoy writing both, but I think I find villains a bit easier to write overall.
6. The build up of romance in your book was perfect. I knew exactly why they’d fallen for each other. You truly gave me the sense of love building bit by bit watching them grow together, I loved it so much. That be big said, do you prefer to write romance or read it?
This is tricky because despite having the emotional range of a teaspoon, I am a bit of a romantic at heart. I do love me some good old-fashioned romance, but I also find a lot of it (especially in YA) to be a bit…over the top? I can’t really handle the super cheesy lines some of these popular characters come out with—I much prefer realistic romance where characters aren’t spouting these very elaborate old-timey sonnets every five seconds, which I think is why I tend to always incorporate romance into my work, so I can write the sort of romance I like personally. Saying that, I do love getting worked up over my favorite ships!
7. You have created some truly amazing characters, I have to say my favourite has to be Jenner. Do you have a method on creating them?
Not particularly. Characters come to me very easily, I barely have to work at it. I think a huge part of it is because I have a very visual brain (so I see stuff in pictures instead of words) so I’m able to play out my stories like a movie in my head. I also draw inspiration from so many things that the characters tend to just materialize without me needing to force it.
8. Are you an organised writer or is your work space chaos?
I am definitely an organized writer. I need to make outlines and have playlists. If I don’t, then it’s chaotic. I didn’t make proper outlines or playlists for my current work in progress, and it took me over a year to finish writing because of it. I know what works for me, I just need to make sure I actually do it!
9. I was wondering, I like to listen to music while I write, I actually have different playlist for writing different scenes, hehe. Do you need quiet or do you listen to music when writing too?
I absolutely have to listen to music while I write, but not just any music. It has to be instrumental/orchestral and it has to feel like the scene I’m writing (which is why my playlists are sometimes very strange LOL). I tend to make a playlist with the same number of songs as chapters in the book I’m working on so there will be a song correlating to each chapter. I then play that song on repeat until the chapter is done. Most of the music I listen to is from film scores. For example, my Ultraxenopia playlist has a few songs from The Hunger Games and Cloud Atlas soundtracks.
10. I must say your book covers are beautiful, that being said, do you ‘cover buy’ books? Are you drawn to them and do you like people on the front covers?
I am definitely a ‘cover buy’ reader. I only ever pick up a book if I like the cover or if I’ve heard so much about the book the cover doesn’t matter. I tend to prefer more artistic/symbolic looking covers, but I also like covers with people on the front (especially if big, pretty dresses are involved!)
11. Are there any other genre you’d like to explore?
I’m actually SUPER into adult thrillers as a reader, like even more so than YA. I would love to become the female version of Dennis Lehane. Dude knows what’s up (Shudder Island FTW!). Saying that, you’ll notice everything I write has some sort of thriller aspect to it for that reason.
12. What other projects are you working on?
I recently completed a YA fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast which I’m reading back through now so I can send over to my beta readers and then pitch to agents in March. Then, it’s onto Project W. A. R. book three!
I’ll leave you with a slideshow of my fan art, you’re welcome. ☺️