We began a 20-year friendship that I hold dear inside my heart. We bonded over our love of writing. Phil was always the more dedicated author. He participated in several writer’s groups simultaneously. One time, he insisted that we should form a group that met at noon on a week day. His belief was that authors make sacrifices, and for the small group that we formed, taking time off of work was ours. I requested time off from my boss to make each meeting. Phil made the same requests, for which he gave permission to himself.
In those 20 years, he published The Freya Project, a technology thriller and Seoul Legacy: Orphan’s Flu, an international thriller involving our fears of North Korea, which Phil predicts much of the conflict we see today. That was Phil’s gift. He wrote about cultural settings that exist now and where could they evolve in the near future. If asked about the setting of his stories, Phil often said, “my stories are set five minutes into the future.” Phil did extensive research into his novels that enabled him to turn dense subject matter into compelling prose for a wide readership to get sucked into the drama.
Recently, I reminded Phil about when he asked me to be his publicist for promoting The Freya Project. My job was to get Phil into stores to give talks and sell his book. I did, and in the process I learned so much about the book promotion side of being an author. Phil was passionate about getting his novel out to the public. That 3 to 4-month experience prepared me for when my book came out this year. Everything I do now to prepare, I owe a deep gratitude to Phil.
His latest novel, “Broken String” yet to be publish, takes a compelling look at a family who struggles with the tough decisions around a woman who discovers joyous and tragic news: She’s pregnant and she has cancer. Phil worked on this book, while fighting his own battle. Each chapter that he shared at the Deadwood Writers Group received praise and debate around the layers of conflict faced by the family.
As part of the Deadwood Writers group, Phil drove over an hour from Troy to Northville once or twice a month. He almost always had a chapter or query letter to share for feedback. A Phil ism that the group adopted early on was: “a reader should be able to jump into the middle of a story, and know if the writing is good.” This wisdom, one of many gems, is an important guide to all writers.
Phil contributed a monthly story or article to the Deadwood Writers Voices, our blog. His current serial, The Crow story, will be thankfully continued by his son, Jack. There is more compelling prose to come.
Phil lives on through his stories.