In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Connor Phillips and his story “Returnal.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
I was reading Walden and was wondering what would have changed if Thoreau wrote the book after being chased into the woods by a pitchfork-wielding mob consisting of everyone he ever knew and loved for sudden reasons he didn’t understand. It made me wonder how his transcendentalist ideals of individual purity and self-reliance as well as his efforts seeking solitude and nature might have been affected if the impetus for living at Walden Pond began within a tragic experience of exile and vilification.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
The story is told in the second person and can be read two ways, perhaps—with one reading being that the protagonist is a specific individual, and the other being that they are a sort of surrogate for potentially any individual. That’s how I see the character, at least. Someone else might read it differently.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
The setting is two towns that exist on either side of a forest. I am often walking or running in the woods, and I like the simultaneous feeling of being exposed and sequestered while standing alone in a seemingly endless spread of trees. It’s a contradictory sensation, and I wanted it to hopefully come across in the story.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I guess once it’s out there, they can choose to take away from the story whatever they want. I just hope the reader finds it engaging and not boring.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
I don’t know, really. I like to focus on the sound and rhythm of the words rather than just the meaning they convey. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but hopefully it isn’t over the top for some readers.
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
If the story was on the front-page of anything, I would be pretty concerned and confused.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’m not sure I can really call myself a writer yet, but any amount of money I have spent on reading new books, especially ones from small independent presses where authors are writing really bold and impressive stuff, has helped me improve and take chances with my own writing.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
The Ashley Book of Knots. If I wrote that book, I bet I would have unbelievable prowess at knot tying and knowledge of knots, rather than my current mediocre skills.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
Make anyone poop their pants just by imagining them pooping their pants. I could make them poop their pants at any moment, even if they were on the other side of the world from me. This sounds really villainous, I know. But I promise I would use it only for good, for making the world a better place.
Connor Phillips lives in Arizona.