Interview with Christi Phillips

October, 2009
Christi Phillips

Questions About Books and Writing

SS: Who are your favorite authors?

CP: Jane Austen

Edith Wharton

Kurt Vonnegut

Iain Pears

David Liss

John Irving

Michael Chabon

Ian McEwan

Tom Wolfe

Alison Lurie

Kate Atkinson

Philip Kerr

Evelyn Waugh

Nancy Mitford

Raymond Chandler

Arundhati Roy

Tom Perrotta

SS: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

CP: Pride and Prejudice - J. Austen

The God of Small Things - A. Roy

Breakfast of Champions - K. Vonnegut

Foreign Affairs - A. Lurie

Les Liaisons Dangereuse - Choderlos de Laclos

The World According to Garp - J. Irving

Yes, I know this is six...

SS: Is there a book you love to reread?

CP: All of the above, and many more.

SS: Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

CP: Write a book you would love to read.

SS: What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

CP: Why did _____ have to die? (I can't tell you who, it's a spoiler.)

General Questions

SS: What is your birthdate?

CP: 6/7

SS: What were your previous occupations?

CP: Assistant in a NYC literary agency; travel writer; writer for Mosfilm Studios in Moscow; director of PR and marketing for a small, luxury hotel chain in northern California.

SS: What was/is your favorite job?

CP: My current job is by far my favorite.

SS: Where did you go to high school and/or college?

CP: I went to high school in southern California. I skipped a few grades and graduated early. I didn't go to college.

SS: Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

CP: Classical composers: Bach, Schubert, Chopin, Tchaikovsky; 20th century and later: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, Steely Dan, Weather Report, Talking Heads, the Clash, the Pretenders, the Police, Elvis Costello, Rickie Lee Jones, REM, Nirvana, Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Stone Temple Pilots, Beck

SS: What is your favorite movie?

CP: It's a tie between Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and Schindler's List

SS: What is your favorite television show?

CP: Right now it's House. I've been a fan of Hugh Laurie ever since Blackadder.

What Readers want to know...

SS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

CP: Swimming in the warm, clear South Pacific right outside my luxurious Bora Bora bungalow.

SS: With whom in history do you most identify?

CP: Napoleon. Nah, just kidding.

SS: Which living person do you most admire?

CP: Barack and Michelle Obama.

SS: What are your most overused words or phrases?

CP: "Just." It sneaks into the first draft somehow, and I have to strike it out during revisions. It's just meaningless. See?

SS: What do you regret most?

CP: That I didn't start writing novels sooner.

SS: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

CP: Musical talent. I'm learning to play the guitar, and it's quite obvious that I'm not naturally gifted. But I think it's important to balance work with play, to do something for fun that you don't necessarily have to be good at.

SS: What is your greatest achievement?

CP: It's a dubious achievement, yet I'm still proud: I once watched one hundred Russian films (without subtitles) in less than a few months. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about gulags and Stalin. The concept of "comedy" hadn't caught on there yet.

SS: What’s your greatest flaw?

CP: Impatience.

SS: What’s your best quality?

CP: Curiosity. I'm not afraid of new things, because I love to learn.

SS: What trait is most noticeable about you?

CP: I'm usually reading or talking.

SS: If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

CP: I think I'd like to meet Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen. I'd tell them that their work is still loved and revered--more now than it was during their lifetimes, in fact. Perhaps knowing this would make the unhappiness in their lives a little easier to bear.

SS: What is your biggest pet peeve?

CP: My pet, actually. I have a 18 lb, white long-haired cat, Clarence, who apparently was Born to Shed. When he's happy, he drools. We're not certain that he has any redeeming qualities.

SS: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

CP: Reading. And spending time with my husband.

SS: What’s your fantasy profession?

CP: Songwriter. I'm envious of anyone who can earn a living by writing something so short.

SS: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

CP: A sense of humor, an open mind, and a strong work ethic--I admire people who try to do their best, no matter what they're doing.

SS: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

CP: Sushi.

SS: What are your 5 favorite songs?

CP: I would hate to limit it to five. See earlier entry, "Favorite Composers and Musical Artists."

Quick Start

SS: How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

CP: I can't say anything in only eight words--that's why I'm a novelist.

SS: What is your motto or maxim?

CP: It never occurred to me to have one.

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