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Friday, February 12, 2016

Fantasy Author Mike Phillips Guest Post: An Unlikely Hero (Hazard of Shadows book tour)

An Unlikely Hero

Thank you for joining me on this guest post. My name is Mike Phillips and my new book is Hazard of Shadows, the sequel to The World Below. For this post, I was asked to talk a little about one of the characters in the book. I thought it would be interesting to take on our hero, Mitch Hardy.

Many readers are interested in how an author chooses the names for his or her characters, so let’s begin there. Figuring out good character names, or even worse, book titles, is one of the hardest parts of writing for me. I actually named a character Boyn because in the draft I couldn’t come up with anything better to call him than boy. I told myself it sounded Sci-Fi and, in my defense, there is a whole city named Boyne in northern Michigan, but it’s totally pathetic, I know.

If I’m naming a monsters, it’s a lot easier. I use the old half-and-half trick made famous by CS Lewis with Screwtape. So we get names like Thudrott and Gullysack for the friendly goblins and Malfeat for an Oxford educated troll. Puttygut may sound like I came up with it the same way, but that’s actually a road name in St. Clair County, Michigan. People I’ve talked to say it’s a corruption of the original French but no one I talk to can tell me what the original was meant to be. Someone ought to goggle that. The moment I heard it, I knew I had to write a character around a name like that. I think it worked out well –no matter what it really means.

Back to the origin of Mitch Hardy. The last name honors Thomas Hardy, the great writer, someone who can make even the most mundane event interesting by the use of language. The first name, Mitch, is a bit harder. I’m not sure where it came from. I knew I wanted a name that hadn’t been used before, and protagonists with the name Mitch are few.

The thing about Mitch I like best is that he’s not the typical hero. He’s not the chosen one, not the son or daughter of anyone important. He’s not ordained by some unearthly force to become what he is. He doesn’t have any extraordinary talents or skills. Mitch is an average person. Like most of us, he’s trying to find his way in the world. He has a good heart, tries to help people when he can, but often has trouble making rent.

In The World Below, the first book in the Goblin King Series, Mitch is recovering from a workplace injury that left him flat broke and physically deformed. He travels to the tourist town of Traverse City, Michigan to try to make a few bucks and finish his teaching degree. Little does he know that this place is a hidden refuge for the magical creatures that were once so plentiful, a subterranean realm known as the World Below. Little does he know that his fate will soon be bound up with theirs.

It all starts when he goes to a party at an abandoned factory and meets the Lady Elizabeth. She’s one of the Elder Race, an actual Fearie Princess. She’s looking for a father she never knew, but there are people after her, dangerous people, powerful people. Without knowing it, Mitch draws the attention of the evil Baron Finkbeiner, despotic ruler of the World Below. Soon he is running for his life from a pan-dimensional, shape shifting monster. It’s no spoiler to say he escapes, mostly through the help of a friendly group of goblins. Life takes an unusual turn, and for Mitch, this rescue puts him on a path that can only end with a war against Baron Finkbeiner.

Starting a war, no less starting a fight, is the last thing you’d expect from a person like Mitch Hardy. He’s one of those big, dopey guys that have nothing to prove. He’s nice to everyone. If you were hungry, he’d split his last pizza with you. The real world has a tendency to run people like him into the ground, but with the help of some unusual friends, and for the love of a special young woman, he accomplishes remarkable things.

Don’t look to Mitch Hardy to be the strongest hero ever, the best swordsmen ever, or the best sorcerer ever. None of those things are what Mitch, and the Goblin King Series, are all about. It’s about friendship, teamwork, and most importantly what we can accomplish when we all work together toward a common goal.

Unfortunately that’s about all we have time for. Thanks for hanging in there with me. As you can probably tell, Mitch isn’t your typical hero. There are depths to him I’m only beginning to explore. Thanks so much for joining me for this guest post. I hope you check out The World Below and the new book, Hazard of Shadows.

Take care, MP

Hazard of Shadows (Chronicles of the Goblin King #2)
byMike Phillips
Publisher: Caliburn Press
Pages: 280
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ecopy/Paperback
The enchanted creatures of legend still exist, taking refuge from an age of camera phones and government labs in a secret place called the World Below. After leading a revolution against Baron Finkbeiner, the despotic ruler of the World Below, Mitch Hardy has taken the throne. Unknown to him, ancient powers are at work. The Lords of Faerie seek to revenge the death of Baron Finkbeiner and recover the mysterious Blade of Caro. Soon Mitch is fighting for his life against hellish monsters, the likes of which he never imagined.

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About the Author:

Mike Phillips grew up on a small farm in West Michigan, living much the way people did at the turn of the century. Whether it was growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock, Mike learned the value of hard work and responsibility at a young age.

While his friends spent their summers watching reruns of bad sitcoms, Mike’s father gave him a very special gift. He turned off the television. With what was affectionately referred to as “the idiot box” no longer a distraction, Mike was left to discover the fantastic worlds that only exist in books. When not tending sheep, gardening, building furniture, chopping wood, or just goofing off, Mike spent his time reading.

With all that hard work at home, Mike was always eager to go to school. He excelled as a student and went on to pursue a career in the sciences. Working as a Safety Engineer in the Insurance Industry, Mike soon became bored with the corporate grind. Writing engaged him like nothing else. After a few novels and numerous short stories, he thought getting published would be a pretty neat idea. And so, here it goes…

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