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Q&A with Phillip Thomas Duck

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In this explosive follow-up to his powerful debut novel, Phillip Thomas Duck tells the tale of an edgy ex-con turned minister who tries to escape his past — and discovers that God truly does work in mysterious ways...

LeVar Path went into North Carolina's Jeremiah Correctional Institution a guilty, angry, dangerous man. Two and a half years later, he's come out repentant and born again. And it's a good thing, because LeVar is about to face all kinds of trials, not to mention temptations. While LeVar is looking for God, a notorious band of murderous brothers is looking for him, eager to avenge a crime they don't believe he's quite paid for.

Fleeing to New Jersey, LeVar hears that Fellowship Baptist Church is looking for an associate pastor, and he decides to risk it and apply for the job. The Lord saved his soul in prison, maybe He will shelter his body in the church. And maybe along with His love, LeVar will be blessed with the love of a good woman. For even a man of God is still a man. Faithful yes, but temptation is all around for a man who's grown...and sexy.

Soon enough, LeVar finds himself enjoying the role of pastor, and is strongly attracted to a member of his congregation — a woman who also happens to be his harshest critic. Denied by her, he meets another woman who challenges his sexual restraints. But that is just the beginning of a road that will lead LeVar and those whose lives he touches through a tangle of betrayal, long-buried secrets, desires...and hopefully redemption.

Q&A with Phillip Thomas Duck, Author of "Playing with Destiny, Whispers Between the Sheets (an anthology) and Grown and Sexy"
 
 
Q:  When did you decide you wanted to write?
 
A:  I've always been an avid reader, and throughout school I was told I wrote well. But the desire to write novels, or anything other than rap lyrics just wasn't there. The budding rap career never did take off though, and by that time I had a serious love affair with words, so I had to find some way of expressing myself. I didn't know what it would be, or what it would entail, but I knew somehow I would continue my journey with words. Then I happened upon DISAPPEARING ACTS by Terry McMillan. That book planted the seed of thought for me to try a novel. I dabbled on one but it never really took off. Then, while on vacation about seven years ago, I came upon MILK IN MY COFFEE by Eric Jerome Dickey. That book watered the seed, for real. From the moment I closed the book all I thought about was writing my own novel.
 
Q:  How many novels in all have you written?
 
A:  Counting the novels that I now consider homework, the novels that will never see publication, five. The published novels are: PLAYING WITH DESTINY (April '05), GROWN AND SEXY (April '06).
 
Q: How long did it take you to write your first novel?
 
A:  I'll answer for my first published novel, PLAYING WITH DESTINY. I worked on it for about seven months, put it aside, came back and tweaked it over the course of another two months. Then, when it was accepted for publication, there was another small polish done. All together, it took close to a year of my life.
 
Q:  Where do you get your inspiration for your stories? Are the characters based on real people?
 
A:  My inspiration comes from observing life. I've gotten story ideas by something someone has said or done. I've gotten story ideas from television, the newspaper, dreams. In every case I start with a "What if" situation and the novel is the exploration of that question. As for the characters, there are certainly small similarities to real people I've encountered, but for the most part the fun is in creating something from scratch. Writing is the only opportunity I get to play God.
 
Q:  Tell us about  your latest release "Grown and Sexy"
 
A:  Grown implies maturity and responsibility. Sexy is that carnal part of our nature. Sometimes the two collide. Sometimes our sexuality isn't mature or responsible. That's what I wanted to explore with the novel. My vehicle for exploring the collision of grown and sexy is an ex-con who comes out of prison so much closer to God. His journey outside those four walls ends with him as Baptist minister. That's the grown part of his being. He's made mistakes, but atoned for them, and is moving to greater things. But then, a woman in the church who he shouldn't get involved with becomes his passion. That's the sexy part of the equation. That's the collision. It makes for some good drama, too, I believe.
 
 
Q:  After writing your first novel, did you self-publish?? If so, how was that experience?
 
A:  I did a brief little self-publishing thing for my first novel, which I just don't talk about anymore. I was unprepared for the game at that point, in my writing ability, and in my approach to this difficult business. I took some lumps and learned some valuable lessons, so all was not lost. I have tremendous respect for those that self-publish successfully. It isn't easy.
 
Q:  What feedback have you received from fans?
 
A:  The feedback has been tremendous. A lot of positive feelings for the story, and most importantly, my writing ability. Which is important to me, because I don't want to just tell a good story, I want to tell a good story with style and substance.
 
Q:  What authors do you admire? Did one of them inspire you?
 
A:  The list of authors I admire is too long to even begin to divulge. But I will say that Terry McMillan and Eric Jerome Dickey inspired me to do this writing thing. Margaret Johnson-Hodge and Timmothy McCann mentored me as to the business. They took me by the hand and led me every step of the way. I valued that so much because they both are such tremendous writers. My list of favorite authors is a mile long, but hands down my favorite genre to read is crime fiction. Lawrence Block, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell...and on and on.
 
Q:  Is writing your only passion?
 
A:  Writing, family, God, life.
 
Q:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
 
A:  Hopefully I've grown as a writer, continued to write good stories, continued to take chances. I'd think my readership will be established at that point, and whether it is fifty or fifty thousand I will consider it a blessing to have anyone read my stories.
 
Q: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
 
A:  Sharpen the skills first. Too many writers start writing a story in May and want the glory of publication by "no later than July". LOL. I was there at one point, so I understand the anxiousness. But the best thing an aspiring writer can do is write, develop the discipline to sit down and see a story from beginning to end. There are many in this who I consider sprinters. The goal is to be a marathon man/woman. I think any writer who has honed his or her craft is better prepared for a distance run in this business.
 
Q:  What would you like readers to learn from your stories?
 
A: I consider my stories deep emotional journeys. I want my readers to not only experience that with the characters, but I also want them to come away from my novels with a desire to explore the deeper mysteries of themselves and those they love. I received a great deal of reader feedback about PLAYING WITH DESTINY making them reevaluate the relationships with their siblings and parents. Mission accomplished.
 
Q:  Are you working on another novel? If so, What is it about?
 
A:  Just agreed in principle to a contract for two more books. So y'all are stuck with me for a little while longer at least. APPLE BROWN BETTY will be out next year, April '07. It examines a relationship complicated by lies and more lies...and a character lurking in the shadows who will do just about anything to make sure the relationship does not prosper. It was an enjoyable writing experience for me. I mixed point of views and did some other things I've never done in writing before. That's the thing for me, to flex a different muscle with each book.
 
Q: Where can people purchase your books? Do you have a website?
 
A:  The usual places: amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, the chain bookstores, anywhere where books are sold (always wanted to say that). My website is www.phillwrite.com. Surf on through readers, and when you're done surfing, towel off and send an email to phillwrite@aol.com.
 
 
 

Phillip Thomas Duck
"Grown and Sexy"
Available Nationwide April '06
www.phillwrite.com

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