LIKE LA poet and author Charles Bukowski, David Phillips worked for the United States Post Office. Unlike Bukowski Phillips served in the US military. He repaired small firearms for almost 13 years, as a hobby, he claims..
In Webster City, Iowa he constructed horse stalls and developed ground-breaking animal feeding devices. He organized accounts for magazine publishers in Boone Iowa and wrote Battleship Run, originally intended as a film spec script. The work was shaped into a novel, with more, hopefully to follow in the series.
One early September morning Phillips was involved in a serious car crash. A broken neck, ribs, and the loss of his upper teeth, surgery for nerve damage is upcoming. Yet still David Phillips tries to write every day. Battleship Run is sure to grab you from the first page and not let you go until the very last.
I caught up with David just before his interview with a local newspaper.
JAN: First of all congratulations on the publication of Battleship Run. Let's hope it continues to sell briskly. What led you to write the book? I understand it was originally intended as a film treatment, right?
DP: First off, I’d like to say thank you for allowing me to answer these questions for you. Yes, it originally started out as a film spec script. It underwent numerous changes in the course of writing it three times or so. What you read in the book is not how the first script looked. I added and deleted scenes, changed the settings and involved more countries. It was a bit darker you could say. I had the financial collapse pending with the United States, and China being more of the aggressor. I had the Isis Satellite still in operation towards the big battle scene at the end, where the world was able to see the fight that would take place. I also had the ship badly burned and the crew dying as Ghost brought the ship back home on her own as thousands of spectators watched the burnt vessel coming into port.
I really liked what I had created so decided to go to the next step. I spent some money and had a professional script consultant look it over and give me his thoughts. He loved the story and thought it was amazing but as is the case with most scripts, I had too much dialog. I had to chop it down to where they were barely saying anything. He also thought that some of the things I wrote were too far-fetched to be believable, like the economic collapse of the United States. I knew from that moment on I did not like where this was going. I then made up my mind to convert the story to a book form. I wanted to tell it my way and not somebody else's way. I changed a few things again so that I could perhaps turn it into a two part story or a trilogy.
I only did the script version, and the conversion to book form just for my own pleasure. I never intended it to be out in the open for others to see. I was bored one day and I was sick of the stupid television reality shows on TV and did this to pass the time.
It didn’t exactly stay hidden very well because as you know James, I was looking for advice on how to format a book and you offered your services. Next thing I know, I hear you like the story and here I am.
JAN: Were there any particular books, television shows, movies or life experiences that inspired you to start Battleship Run or was it just an idea out of the blue?
DP: It was an idea out of the blue. As a kid I would have model boats and even make those little paper hats and me and a friend of mine would go down to the dredge ditch and put them in the water upstream and then we would take turns shooting at them with our BB guns as they slowly floated by. It was always fun to see how many times we could hit them, there are still small chunks of plastic sitting on the bottom.
My best model even had a small motor on it that would turn the propellers. I didn’t want to shoot that one, so come bath time it ended up in the tub with me. It didn’t float to well. It spent most of it’s time capsized bouncing off the walls of the bathtub. It would eventually sink and chug along the bottom as a submarine eventually striking a bar of soap or something. More fun than a yellow rubber ducky I always thought.
JAN: You've also turned your hand to shorty writing lately, "Post Partum Separation" is a wonderfully twisted tale. Where did that idea come from? Not the bathtub I hope.
DP: Ha-ha, no bathtub this time. It was the shower. Seriously though, it came from all the pain pills I was taking at the time I believe.
I was in an automobile accident and broke my neck some ribs and messed up various other body parts. So the pain pills and the agony I was in gave me this nightmare. It was something I have never dreamt of before, and I hope never again. It was pretty creepy as the readers will find out before long. I think it took me just an hour or two to hurry up and write down what I saw.
JAN: I believe, and I hope I'm not the only one, that story telling does come from experiences in life, good or bad. But it is the scary stories that people love to read the most so it follows that from tragic life experiences great stories can be told. I've found this to be true. Readers are fascinated by fear and the grit and determination the protagonist must pull out of his or her locker while getting through a shitty experience. Do you think the accident in anyway shaped or formed your writing or feelings towards writing? Has it made you more determined? More driven?
DP: It has now. I had Battleship Run completed already, but the sequel has come to a halt at the moment. Looking back at what happened it certainly changes everything I do from this point forward. The sound of the impact with metal collapsing all around you, and then suddenly finding yourself standing up 30 feet from your vehicle in a ditch with no memory of what happened in between, is one of the most oddest feelings I have ever experienced. It makes you wonder if it was divine intervention, luck, or lack of it, or surviving because some part of your destiny has not been completed yet. I often think of these things. I have no wife and kids and basically no relations left. The other person had all of the above and yet I was the one who walked away. Why? I have simply come to the conclusion that everything has a purpose whether it is good or bad.
JAN: Are you more determined to make your mark now you’ve been given a second chance?
DP: I wouldn’t say it has made me more driven or determined, but it has made me look deeper into every little thing I do. Too often people take things for granted and only when we lose something do we realize what it was we had, and how thankful we should have been. It only takes one second for everything to change. Whatever it is we set out to do, try to do your best. If you fail, so what, you tried and that is something no one can take away from you. It is better to try and fail, than not try at all.
I have started to try my hand at writing not because I thought I was great at it, but because I was often told I had a knack for telling a story. The only way I could know for sure was to throw it out there and let the public decide.
JAN: Well, so far they have decided in your favor. Let’s hope it continues
Battleship Run is for sale on Amazon and at www.spankingpulppress.com.