Today I welcome author Phil Duncan to my blog to discuss his latest book, Wax, a young adult novel about a boy who comes back from the dead with a whole bunch of new problems.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born and raised in a small farming town in Eastern Washington State. After an eight year stint in Seattle, I now call Portland, OR home.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
While there is no one character in Wax that is based on me or my life, I see bits and pieces of my personality scattered and amplified in all of the characters — both my attributes and flaws. I see a lot of my hometown in the story’s high school, so while everything is changed a bit and fictionalized, former classmates of mine who have read the book recognize certain settings.
How do you conceive your plot ideas?
I usually have dozens of ideas for stories in my head at any given time. Slowly, one will emerge as the squeakiest wheel and start snapping in place. Once I can clearly see the story from beginning to end, then I’ll sit down and start fleshing out the characters, plot points, and everything else.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Outlining is the most labor-intensive part of my process. I spend a lot of time mapping out each scene in the book before setting out to write the first draft. With a good outline in place, I can focus on more nuanced things while writing, without worrying about the direction of the story.
Please tell us about your current release.
Wax is a young-adult novel that follows Yancey Muncy, a hapless 15-year-old who after a tragic accident ends up dead. However, this fate is short-lived as Yancey is brought back to life by a scientist only to be blackmailed into using his new and improved body to do the scientist’s bidding. This forces Yancey to not only readjust to his ordinary life, but to make decisions that that have huge consequences.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was a little tired with the “zombie” genre, but thought there was still some interesting, unexplored ground to cover. I was drawn to the Shelley’s Frankenstein — the original tale of the undead — and wanted to toy with the idea of a modern “Boy Frankenstein” and see how a “second” life would play out within the frame of typical teenaged life — gym classes, high school crushes, sibling interactions, etc.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
Wax was outlined and written mainly in my neighborhood 24-hour coffeeshop. I tend to make a lot of notes in longhand before transferring them onto a computer, because I like the freedom of just having a notebook with me whether I’m at a cafe or park or wherever. When it comes down to the editing process, I usually lock myself up in my home office.
What book are you reading write now?
I tend to read a lot of comics and graphic fiction, which I think is probably obvious to anyone who’s read Wax. I like very visual storytelling and find comics such as Chew and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service to be great inspiration.
Yancey Muncey is dead. Or, he was. Raised from the grave by the shadowy figure of Dr. Blankenship, Yancey is now back in high school, hanging out with his best friend, and working up the nerve to ask the girl of his dreams to the upcoming Halloween carnival.
But not everything is the same as it was before: Yancey’s eyes are yellow, his skin is blue, and he’s indestructible. As if that weren’t bad enough, Dr. Blankenship has made it his life’s mission to hunt Yancey down. Because the only reason Yancey is alive again is to help the good doctor destroy his rival.
An average boy with a new lease on an extraordinary life, Yancey must battle high-trained security and high school bullies in his quest to get back to normal. What’s the worst that can happen after all? He’s already dead.
About the Author
Phil Duncan is the author of Wax, a young-adult novel published by RainTown Press, as well as of various short fiction published both in print and online. He is a graduate of Goddard College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and the University of Washington’s English program. A former Jacob K. Javits Fellow, Duncan recently served as a Creator-in-Residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site-Aoyama in Tokyo, Japan. He currently lives in Portland, OR.
You can learn more about Phil on his website.
Wax can be purchased on Amazon.