Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Talking Books with Phil Fragasso, author of 'Going Both Ways'

Phil Fragasso sold his first article at the age of 16. Since then he has written and published a wide variety of books and articles, including the recent bittersweet love story, Still Counting. After many years as a corporate marketer, he left to pursue endeavors that were more fulfilling personally and more contributory on a societal level. Today he focuses his time on writing and teaching.
His latest book is Going Both Ways.
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Thanks for this interview, Phil.  Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?
I can honestly say that I’ve been a writer my whole life. Like many kids I starting writing goofy stories for my own enjoyment and to share with friends. I sold my first article when I was 16. My first book was a YA novel. Since then I’ve written several books of humor, three nonfiction books, and four novels. I also write for the Huffington Post and blog on my website. I often say “I live the American dream” and that is indeed how I feel.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

My wife and I have two yellow Labs and we take them for a long walk every day in nearby woods. I’m always reading two books at once – one novel and one nonfiction title. I could perhaps be defined as a Netflix addict but I prefer Netflix “enthusiast.” I enjoy hiking, golf, and cycling but, in all honesty, writing is my favorite thing to do.

Do you have a day job? Or a night one?

I guess I’m in that stage of life called semi-retirement – meaning that I no longer have a 9-5 job. I do, however, mix and match four different jobs. Writing is certainly my focus and I write every single day. I’m also an adjunct professor at Boston College and I still do the occasional consulting project. And fourth, I’m a part-time chauffeur for a local car service company where I get to meet a wide variety of people and get inspiration for characters and storylines.

Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

The writing has always been easy for me – it’s the selling and marketing that give me fits. I have a literary agent who sold my nonfiction books, but he handles very little fiction and declined to represent Going Both Ways. I tried to find another agent who specialized in fiction but couldn’t find any takers. Many of them said how much they liked the writing, but they declined primarily because I was an unknown. I loved the book and had decided to self-publish – but first tried some small independent publishers. That’s when Wild Rose Press and I discovered each other – and I couldn’t be happier.

What is it about the Paranormal genre that appeals more than any other genre you would choose to write?

I’ve often said that my tragic flaw is having too many interests. I don’t consider myself a genre-writer. I focus first and foremost on the characters and story and see where they lead. I’m very interested in exploring interpersonal relationships. I’m open to any approach (like the paranormal element in Going Both Ways) that provides a thought-provoking perspective.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?
Frat-boy thinks women have it easy until he turns into a woman every other day and sees life and love from a surprisingly different perspective.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?
I take a familiar conceit – body-swapping and gender-switch – but make it unique by having the character alternate as male/female every other day. The male/female characters (Patrick/Trish) share the same mind and their experience leads Patrick on a journey of insight and personal reflection.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?
I’m torn between Halloween and Valentine’s Day. The former seems more logical because of the paranormal aspects of the story, but at its core I believe the book is about relationships, love, and mutual respect for your partner.
Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
No, this is a one-shot deal. Patrick/Trish dealt with their issues and have moved on.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Pretty much everywhere. I have way more storylines, situations, characters, and plot twists than I could ever use. I can’t point to how or why, but the inspiration just pops into my head. Part of it is that I’m always open to new ideas and keep my eyes and ears wide open.

What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up a black-comedy, satirical novel about the current state of American politics. While I’m confident I could place it with a publisher, I’m going to self-publish in late April or early May so it’s available during the peak months of the presidential campaign.

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