Growth in Movement: Interview with Phil Stamper

By Silk Jazmyne on


Phil Stamper is an author who understands growth in movement. Originally from a rural village near Dayton, Ohio, Phil’s journey has taken him from his home state to Washington, DC and on to New York. He studied music, then went into publishing, then into public relations, and then into publishing development, so it seems natural that his debut novel, The Gravity of Us, is a journey through the exploration of human truths, triumphs and tribulations. It’s a boy meets boy story of first love, self doubt, and family obligations amidst the age of sharing life via social media–and NASA. Phil agreed to answer a few questions about his approach to his craft.

How did your hometown influence your writing style?

This is a great question! I was raised in a small farming village in Ohio, and I went to a high school that wasn’t exactly world-renowned for… academia. To me, writing was a chore, and the thought of writing a 10-page paper was enough for me to panic. So, if 14 year old me could see me writing ~300-page novels, he would flip.

“Country” living was good for a lot of things, though. I think I have a good grasp of describing settings and bringing a lot of heart into my character- and world-building, and I was influenced by the many unique friendships I had over the years. I also lived in a kind of boring area, so I made up for a lot of that by consuming (and sometimes creating) stories, whether it be through music, or Agatha Christie novels, Final Fantasy games, you name it.

I fell in love with storytelling decades before I found a love for writing, and I’m kind of happy it happened that way.

Once you have an idea, how do you approach the writing process?

I am a HUGE fan of beat sheets. I use a modified version of Save the Cat that includes pinch points, as I’ve learned I struggle with building those obstacles into my book. I’m a bit of a pantser in how I approach the writing process. I always follow my gut, and will adjust the outline as I go. But I also don’t want to spend more time than I need to in edits, and I like going into a writing session knowing exactly what I hope to accomplish. In that way, I have found a perfect blend of plotting and pantsing with beat sheets that include the estimated % or word count I should be at when I hit each beat.

After completing a manuscript, do you give yourself time to recoup or do you just jump into the next narrative?

When I was a querying author, I always jumped right into the next book. I would, of course, clean up my previous MS as much as possible—critique partners, beta reads, many many rounds of edits—but once I started querying, I was already onto the next book. Even after I got an agent, I did the same thing, though at a much slower pace. Being on submissions as an author is… the most draining experience there is. Knowing you could get a call about a book deal any day? It messes with your mind. (And I was on submission for two years, between three books. *skull emoji*)

Now it takes me a lot longer to recoup. There’s also a lot more planning in the writing process, plus… writing something you know will be on shelves? That’s terrifying! But also very exciting. You want to get it right, of course, but I sometimes find myself tinkering around because I’m too anxious to actually make progress. This is all to say…my writing process is a mess, lol.

The Gravity of Us is set for release in February 2020, so make sure you mark your calendars to grab a copy of this endearing tale!

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