01 July 2014

Author Interview: Shawn Phillips

Hello Dr. Phillips. Welcome to my blog. It’s quite nice having you here. I hope you don’t mind answering these questions, and somehow managing to handle my curiosity.
It will be my pleasure, and thank you for inviting me.

What makes your book special, Dr. Phillips? What makes that story unique?
In my fiction writing, I like to base my stories on something called fantasci, meaning that I create a fantasy world based on science or science fiction. My goal is to take your reality and initially shift it by a few degrees, so that what transpires is almost believable. As the story progresses, the fantasy subtly overtakes the science until you have stepped through the liquid mirror and are now living in a new, fantastical reality. And when you reluctantly look up from the last page, you can’t help but wonder whether the things around you really exist or are from that new world.
Now, why it is unique? It’s not just one thing. It begins with the science-based shapeshifters who are only one step away from claiming the top of the evolutionary ladder. Ready to accept another failed attempt, they discover that legendary spirit walkers exist. These spirit walkers possess the one thing needed to overtake humanity, the ability to trap the souls of the dead. The uniqueness is strengthened by a disjointed timeline, where a father-son duo, separated by two decades, must try to thwart the shapeshifters while also preventing them from gaining their power. And finally, I had to create the shapeshifter culture from scratch, and craft it into the story. I hope the reader finds the combination intriguing.

We are going to talk a bit about these creatures. As my readers know, I am quite a creature junkee. Why did you put werewolves as the center of your book (well, beside other creatures)?
I love mythical creatures, but in this case I placed a different kind of creature at the center of my story. More of a modern-day shapeshifter. Rest assured, werewolves and vampires are not thrown completely off the pages of my novel. In fact, they slowly build up their importance through The Doppler Affect, with a werewolf becoming a key part of the sequel (Picture Perfect, to be released in 2015). This class of shapeshifters—werewolves—still holds true to my desire of the creatures maintaining a thread of science. More to come.

Doppelgangers, the creatures you have written about, actually have appeared on German folklore, Egyptian mythology, even Greek mythology, but they aren’t that famous in the literature (compared to vampires, for example). As far as I know, they are supposed to be a double of a person. Are these the Doppelgangers you mention in your book?

Indeed, you are correct. These are the doppelgangers in my book, but with a subtle twist. From mythical accounts we have learned that from a single touch the doppelganger, or doppler, has the ability to mimic a person’s identity and possess their knowledge and personality.  Before I wrote my novel, I had asked myself what would a science-based doppler be like. Would touch be enough to shapeshift into a human? If not, then what would it take?  Also, could a doppler absorb memories and the personality of a human with one touch?  I decided that a science-based doppler would be able to shift into a human by ‘acquiring DNA,’ but not have any memories or traits, as these were not stored in one’s DNA.  How does a doppler obtain fresh DNA?  Let’s just say it’s a matriarchal society, and adds a provocative edge to the story.

What made you write about these less-known creatures?
Well, when I decided that I wanted to write a paranormal fantasy novel, I researched what was out there and most popular for readers. This helped me understand what was left to be explored. As we all know, vampire and werewolf stories abound, and I felt that I didn’t have anything new to add. Please, don’t get me wrong, there are some very talented authors who masterfully create new stories with these creatures.  I am amazed by their artistry. Anyway, I wondered who would be their master? Who or what could have control over such powerful creatures? From there, I explored traits of these creatures—and wood nymphs, fairies, etc—coming to the conclusion that the ability to change or alter one’s shape was key. Dopplers seemed to be a natural choice, which started me on my way. Science-based dopplers evolving alongside humankind, but having dominion over the mythical creatures that lurk in the shadows.

Since it seems that you are interested in mythology, then can you talk about your favorite creature (I think it’s normal to have a favorite creature, but then again I am Dracula’s fan, so…)
If one reads the acknowledgement page in my book, I confess that I was an avid Dungeons and Dragons gamer.  So, right now I have a mental image of my old Monster Manual and am rapidly flipping through it (sorry, but my psychiatrist says public admission is the only pathway to full recovery).  Chimera…no, Dwarf…fun, but no, Elf…close, but no…Imp, definitely not…Zombie…much cooler these days, but no. Time to flip the pages backward…yep, it’s the doppelganger. The thought of something being able to perfectly mimic me sends prickling shivers up my spine.

Giveaway Time!
Mr. Phillips plans to release 100 copies through the end of summer, on both Goodreads (link here
and his website (link here). For Goodreads he’s doing biweekly giveaways of 5-20 books, and on his website he’s giving away 2 books a week.

The Author:
Shawn Phillips wrote his first book, a young-adult fantasy novel titled Dillon’s Dream: Water in Earth, in 2009 before following it up with his adult paranormal fiction novel, The Doppler Affect. In addition to the sequel to The Doppler Affect, he currently has two other projects in progress, which he plans to complete in 2015. For Shawn, writing a novel begins when he is able to merge two disparate book ideas into one story, crediting this process to how he performed research in a chemistry laboratory.
After his mom shunned societal expecations and separated from his abusive father, Shawn spent his younger years living in southern Michigan farming communities. He moved to Holland, Michigan to pursue a chemistry degree at Hope College, which he completed in 1992. Relocating to California, he continued his chemistry studies and obtained his doctorate degree in 1997. After a brief yet enjoyable stint at DuPont, he signed on as a civil servant for the United States Air Force. He has spent more than fifteen years conducting and directing propulsion research at the historic Rocket Lab, located on Edwards Air Force Base.

Twitter:  @drshawnphillips

The Book:
The Doppler Affect
Shapeshifters Control Our Lives!
The frightening power of vampires, werewolves, and lycanthropes has lived within our nightmares for centuries, failing to be reasoned out by the rapid advances in science and technology. The truth is that they are very much a part of our reality. However, they are merely the genetically inferior offspring of a more powerful race, known as doppelgangers, who evolved alongside humankind. These shapeshifters adopted a secretive yet manipulative approach when dealing with us, feeding off the sexual desires of men to sustain their society…until desperate times forced a new order.

Christopher Sands, a rising investment banker, was just another victim in a long list of doppelganger schemes. Framed for a crime he wouldn’t commit and watching his family fade farther and farther from his prison bars, Chris makes an unbelievable discovery; shapeshifters aren’t the only race with supernatural abilities. Can he find the strength to accept an even worse fate than prison to not only save his son, but all humankind? Will Michael Sands be able to control the spirits that haunt him to finish what his father cannot?Links:

Have a great day!
Happy Scary Reading!

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