13 Questions with Phil Rossi

This time around I was able to interview Phil Rossi for Horror Addicts.

Episode 45: Squidman, is his first appearance on Horror Addicts. The name of his story just happens to be Squid Man. “The story is about a father and daughter who are vacationing in the Outer Banks while a persistent low pressure system churns up the waters off the North Carolina coast. The tide drags in a little more than shells and sea weed. It’s a love story on several different levels. It’s a survival story.”

I asked Phil what it was like to write the story, compared the type of stories he usually writes. “The Squidman is strictly a monster story, certainly inspired by some of the iconic classics. It’s territory where I haven’t really tread before, but I had a great time with the experience. How does it differ from my typical writing? Generally, the “evil” in my stories deal with forces than transcend flesh, blood, and bone (or cartilage). While, the Squidman is as biological an entity as the story’s protagonist.”

“[Rossi has] been into horror for a long time. [He] fell in love with HBO’s Tales from the Crypt series back in 1989 when it still aired. [He] was at a very impressionable age, and [Phil thinks] some of those episodes (and the classic comics) really shaped [his] take on horror. A lot of seeds were planted then. At the same time, [he] was introduced to Alien and Aliens. [Rossi] could perform Aliens as a monologue, near verbatim. Horror is a fun experience–a rollercoaster ride for the mind.”

I decided to ask Rossi about his well known novel Crescent. What his inspirations were and of course if we could have a little sneak-peek.

“There was no one single inspiration for Crescent, but rather a fairly diverse list of things I was into at the time. I was watching Joss Whedon’s Firefly for the first time, I was rediscovering Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and I had just stumble into the world of podcast fiction as a listener. Needless to say, my gears were spinning in strange and wonderful ways. Podfic seemed like a great fit for me. I’ve always been one for instant gratification and I realized I could write a story and get it out pretty quickly to a potential audience. Crescent was intended to be a Sci Fi/Horror series, but not a novel. Within a few chapters, I realized I had a book on my hand.”

Crescent is a ghost story. Crescent is an adventure story. Hell, it’s a love story. The novel is about sin and greed—it’s the human experience. It follows Gerald Evan, a smoking, drinking salvage pilot and anti-hero with no small amount of self-love, who comes to Crescent Station seeking a small fortune and early retirement. He lands a lucrative contract with Crescent’s corrupt mayor, Ezra Kendall, only to get caught up in the mayor’s devious machinations. But, in the shadows, Gerald soon discovers that the evils of man are the least of his worries. An ancient malevolence is stirring within the bowels of the station; it’s hungry as hell, and it’s coming for everyone.”

Phil also told me a little bit about his second novel Harvey. “With Harvey, I took the opportunity to stretch my legs a bit. There’s no science fiction element. The book is all paranormal horror. The story follows Calvin Hubbard, an ex-signing competition star who heads out to a little backwoods town called Harvey where he plans to write the next great rock and roll album and resurrect his career. But Calvin doesn’t know that a man has just been buried alive in the woods outside of town, and that this quiet murder is just the first in a string of macabre events. As the town goes silently mad around him, Calvin is unable to abandon the record of his dreams. Drunk on inspiration and blinded by an inexplicable lust, he careens headlong into the maelstrom, only to discover that he may be the town’s only salvation.”

Another one of Rossi’s stories Eden (which hasn’t been released yet). “Eden leans closer to straight science fiction than horror. The vibe was heavily inspired by Arthur C. Clark with respect to the ambiance and mystery of Eden, but with hopefully more focus on the characters and their experiences. Eden is a giant tree discovered orbiting Uranus. There she changes humanity’s very concept of extraterrestrial life. Dr. Malcolm Green is sent to Eden to audit a science team studying this extraordinary tree. But with unexplainable accidents plaguing the research program, tensions are mounting between scientists and custodial staff. Only Malcolm can determine if there is a future for the project. But from the second he is close to Eden, Malcolm’s own future becomes at stake. He soon finds that love, friendship, and his own mortality tremble like a leaf at the sound of Eden’s call.”

Phil has been compared to such authors as Stephen King, Philip K. Dick, and HP Lovecraft. He told me, it was flattering and humbling, it was also a little intimidating. “Considering those are some of the biggest names out there, the bar is set pretty high. At the same time, it’s something that inspires me to constantly improve as a writer so some day I can feel a little better about the comparisons being accurate.”

As well as being a writer, Rossi is also a musician. I asked him if his writing affects his music in anyway or vice-versa. “In the past, my music and my writing resided in separate spheres. More and more lately, these worlds seem to overlapping. For example, with Crescent, I composed a soundtrack that was directly inspired by the book. With Harvey, the impact was more intimate. The story directly inspired the songs on the soundtrack and at the same time, songs on the soundtrack really shaped some of the scenes in the book. In a way, composing songs in the head of Calvin Hubbard made the story a very real experience for me.”

“I’m fiercely passionate about both. I could never decide between the two. It’s been suggested in the past that I put my focus in just one or the other. But any time I’ve tried that, it’s only ended in heartbreak.”

Curious about his “fame” from his music and books. I asked Phil how his life has changed. “Well, I’ve been famous in my own head for a long time, so I was prepared going into to the maelstrom. In all seriousness, this little brush with “fame” (and I use fame in the sense that complete strangers know my name and who I am) has made me work harder, both to maintain the modest but loyal following I’ve developed, and to continue to put work out in a way that satisfies my appetite to create and tell stories.”

A little known fact about Phil is that he hates the telephone. “I don’t like talking on the phone and I dread making phone calls. I only do so when there is no other way to communicate with someone or any other means of communication would be inappropriate. I suppose that makes me a bit of a freak. The advent of text message was a godsend. Honestly, I’m trying to get over this. I’ll call and let you know how that goes.”

Keep an eye out for Phil Rossi’s future work and the fall release of Eden. “In terms of podcasting, I just started releasing a flash fiction anthology–Phil Rossi’s Fiction in Five, and I’m editing my next novel, A Prayer for Rain, for podcast sometime in the late fall (god willing). As far as music, my new band is hitting the studio in the next month or so to work on a record with the intention of a late Summer release.”

For information on Phil Rossi check out these websites:

http://www.philrossi.net
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Rossi/7699204257
http://twitter.com/philrossi
http://www.thephilrossiexperience.com/crescent


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