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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spotlight Saturday: Author Interview and Giveaway with Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps, authors of Elf Killers

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by writing duo, Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps.

About Carol:
My name is Carol Marrs Phipps and I am an author who currently resides in Kentucky and Illinois. I have a book which came out in July 2011 from Hellfire Publishing called Elf Killers, which I wrote with my co-author and fantastic husband, Tom Phipps.

Tom and I spent the lion's-share of our teaching careers in the Southwest U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada) on different Native American Reservations. I believe we learned as much from our students as they did from us and a large number of them became the first dedicated fans of our stories. Tom teaches now in Illinois, though we live across the state line in Kentucky (during the school year) and return to our farm in Illinois in the summer. I am now, happily, a full-time writer.

I would have to say I discovered I enjoyed writing and was actually good at it in the eighth grade.I had to write a fictional story about some time in history the class had studied during the semester. We had two weeks to hand in the assignment, but I was inspired and went home, wrote the entire thing that evening and turned it in the next day. My history teacher gave me an odd look, but made no remark. I could tell, though, that he thought I had basically blown the assignment off and jotted off some junk from the top of my head, or copied something. The story I wrote was about the I became the Alamo and told the story of what happened there from my viewpoint. I even
helped in the fighting by dropping a brick from myself onto Jim Bowie's knife causing it to flip and stab his attacker...saving his life, of course. Ah well. My history teacher gave me an A+ for that paper and was so impressed with it that he not talked it up to the class. Several years later, when my sister took his class, he asked her if I still had my Alamo paper and if he could borrow it to use as an example for his current class. I did have that paper and gave it to him to use, but you know, he never gave it back!

In time, I learned what I really enjoyed writing most was the same things I enjoyed reading the most. Fantasy. Everything from children's fairy stories to dark fantasy.
Elf Killers is definitely a fantasy on the dark side. It is about a once vast clan of Elves who are mercilessly being hunted and eaten by the Dyrney, (trolls) who are completely immune to magic.The story has a slightly different twist as it tells both the Elves' and the Trolls' points of view. Elf Killers was a lot of fun to write and I hope that you all will enjoy reading it as much as Tom and I enjoyed writing it.

Not long after Tom and I married, I discovered to my joy that he, too, loved to write. We have been writing together ever since. 

About Tom:

I grew up running around in the woods on a dairy farm. The neighbors would come over and we'd have big sings. In college I was something of an essayist. Then, I farmed for seventeen years and built banjos. Carol blew me away with her yarns, and I started writing with her. We spent the next couple of decades teaching on the Hualapai, Apache, Navajo and Paiute reservations, living clear out away from people, writing all the while. We recently crossed the Mississippi into Kentucky, and now I teach at Cairo High School, but we're still writing.

Author Interview:

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Carol and Tom! Please tell us a little about yourselves.

Carol: As a child I was very afraid of the dark. Even now I feel uneasy going outside alone at night. Silly I know, but there it is. Perhaps I watched too many scary B movies when I was growing up. Perhaps being awakened countless times by the shouts and screams of my father as he relived the horrors of World War II on the front lines as a medic, had a bit to do with my fears, too.

Tom: I used to really love spending hours, riding a Ford Ferguson, watching the blackbirds flocking onto the freshly turned sod behind me, snapping up grubs as they hurried to keep up with the plough.

How did the decision to write as a team come about?

Carol: Tom read some of the stories I had written and he really liked my style. I read some of his and was impressed.We talked about our writing and our ideas and soon we were writing together. Everything seemed so natural that we plan to write together for the rest of our lives.

Tom: Yes. We started doing it as we became more acquainted with each other, right after we got married. We were both writers before we met.

Can you briefly describe your writing process as a team?

Carol: We are equal partners. No one person does the lion’s share of the work. We usually take long walks and brainstorm about what we want to write and where we want our story to go, both before and during the writing process. We write at the same time, in the same room and compare notes on each other’s progress. That way, if any inconsistencies arise they can be dealt with immediately.

Tom: It’s kind of a private matter, something akin to how we ride our old tandem bicycle.

Are there any particular challenges to writing as a team as opposed to writing solo, or do you find it easier?

Tom: Not in the least. We carry on as one person, right brain and left brain. We confer endlessly and sit side by side when we write. Writing together is neither easier nor more difficult, really. It’s just another way of doing it.

Carol: I agree with Tom completely on this.

Are there times during the writing process where you disagree on how things should progress? How do you resolve that?

Tom: Neither one of us is in charge. You see, we’re absolutely crazy about each other, so there are no ego struggles. We couldn’t possibly manage serious writing if there were. We also have a completely settled mutual notion about how decent writing is put together. Of course we didn’t start our first writing having this all figured out. We didn’t have it sorted out until we were past our first five or six hundred pages, but suddenly things clicked and we’ve been on it, ever since. We can really cover ground together, these days. When we write, we are having pure fun. We are on an adventure together.

Carol: Yes indeed. We write epic fantasy stories, and in my mind it is similar to having my very best friend come over and play with me just like when I was a child. It was always more fun to share in the play than to play alone. 

Do you discipline yourself to write a certain number of words daily? Or do you ever have dry periods where you do not write?

Carol: We write pretty much every day when Tom isn’t teaching. Of course, sometimes the words don’t flow as well as on other days, but we do have a set number of hours to work.

Tom: We write pretty much full time when we aren’t being throttled to death by my teaching job. 

What is your ideal writing environment? Do you prefer music or solitude? Is there a time of day (or night) that you prefer?

Tom: We write in the quiet of our house, listening to the birds. We get back from our morning bike ride through the river bottom and sit down to write without fail by ten. We keep it up until four, or maybe six.

Carol: Definitely solitude. 

Where did you come up with the idea for Elf Killers?

Tom: From our other writing. Our trolls first came to be in our epic series, The Heart of the Staff.

Carol: Yes, Elf Killers came out of our epic fantasy series. We really enjoyed writing about them and thought they were interesting enough to have a book of their own. Elf Killers was the result. 

Are any of the characters based on someone you know?

Tom: No, but we strive to have absolutely believable characters in our stories, so we certainly draw heavily from our experience.

Can you tell us a little about any current or upcoming writing projects? 

Carol: Elf Killers will be out in paperback sometime in January 2012. We also have Good Sister, Bad Sister, the first book of our epic fantasy series, Heart of the Staff, coming out as an ebook from Hellfire Publishing on March 30, 2012.

Tom: We're getting ready to begin the fifth book of The Heart of the Staff.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Tom: We go on long walks and talk about our writing.

Carol: We also like to spend time with family and friends, read and watch movies. 

Who is your favourite author and what really strikes you about their work?

Carol: I have lots of favorites. Mark Twain, J.R.R. Tolkein, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind and Shakesphere. I like their fantastic plot fantastic character development.

Tom: Oh Chaucer for me, maybe. Or perhaps Faulkner or Tolkien. What I like about each of them is his grasp of his characters. 

What book(s) are you reading now?

Carol: Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson and While you Were Sleeping by Paul Craig.

Tom: Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer, The Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe and Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. 

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?

Carol: We’d love to hear from you. Currently we are working on a new website that should be up very soon, and you’ll be able to reach us through our ‘contact us’ page. Come by and you just might ‘meet’ an Elf or an evil sorceress.

Tom: Yes. Please talk to us. Talk to our trolls.

*Fun Facts*

Favourite music?

Carol: I know this dates me, but I am and always have been hooked on Rock’n’Roll. 

Tom: The old fiddle tunes that I grew up with. 

Dog-lover or cat-lover? 

Tom: We go for ravens and parrots. 

Carol: Also, I have always loved cats. 

Vanilla ice cream or chocolate? 

Tom: Chocolate, by all means. 

Carol: Ditto. 

Secluded mountain cabin or five-star hotel? 

Tom: I’ll go up the side of a mountain, any day. 

Carol: Me too. I am a bit reclusive and prefer the privacy. 

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be and why? 

Tom: Any of my ancestors, maybe. It might give me a better grasp of the world I’m trying to understand. What would really do it, though, would be to go back and meet Lucy the Australopithecus. 

I can't live without my... 

Carol: Kindle. 

Tom: Why, my Eye Witness Barlow knife. 

If I could take an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, I would go to... 

Carol: I’d like to go to the Isle of Man and to France. 

Tom: I’ll go with Carol.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Carol and Tom! It was a lot of fun getting to know you both better, and I am looking forward to reading Elf Killers!


One lucky winner will receive an e-book copy of Elf Killers.

This giveaway is open to all.


It is the very worst time to be in the woods.

Oisin’s plan is to come with his bow to help Aedan and Doona lead a party of children into the forest to gather the maidenhair seedlings his people would take across the sea as they flee the trolls who hunt them as prey. Maybe he can be back in time for supper.

Dyr's plan is an early evening head smash for the foolish Elves who think they can steal away to the sands of the endless eye sting water and build their strange float huts. They will make a glorious feast.

But on the way, Dyr's brutes stumble across Oisin's gathering party and attack, leaving Aedan mortally wounded and scattering Doona and the children to flee in terror into the dark mountain woods, only to be run down and captured by the bloodthirsty trolls.

Can Oisin find the bonfires of the trolls and rescue them before it’s too late? And what then? Will any of them live long enough to reach safety?

To enter the giveaway, please complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open internationally, and it will close on Saturday, January 21st at 12:01 AM EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. What a great interview! I've always been curious how people co-author books together. So it was nice to learn a little bit about how you two go about it!

    Elf Killers sounds very interesting! Thanks for the chance to win it.


  2. Thanks Pam, I'm glad Tom and I could sate a tiny bit of your curiosity. Good luck with the contest. If you win I hope you enjoy reading ELF KILLERS as much as Tom and I enjoyed reading it.

    Carol Marrs Phipps, Co-author of ELF KILLERS

  3. oops, Pam...that should have been as much as Tom and I enjoyed writing it...(blush!)

  4. Thank you for having us, Darlene. Tom and I really enjoyed interviewing with you!

    Carol Marrs Phipps, Co-author of ELF KILLERS


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