Now that I have three books on the table, it seems like a great time to introduce myself more personally than a simple name on a cover can. Wait, did I say a simple name? Allow me first to clarify any confusion over my actual name as I have self-published three titles under three different names. Weird.
As you have no doubt observed, messieurs Michael Philion, W. M. Philion and William Michael Philion are one in the same, yup, they are all the same guy, yours truly. This is a long and funny story about my naming and identity, and, of course, I blame my mother for the lifelong conundrum. In one way or another, this plight of mine is foisted on an unsuspecting character in each of the three books. It seems I have yet to work through it…
WHO AM I AND WHY DID I WRITE THESE BOOKS?
It was never clear that I would write fiction. Or that I could. In 1996, I was a 44-year old international marketeer in the medical device industry, husband and father of three teenage kids, minding my own business when I endured a pretty dramatic career change and wound up as a German teacher. With unaccustomed free time to pursue the more noble things in life, I lost weight, got fit and took up the pen. I wrote what I call a practice novel that will never see the light of day, but that is when I learned the skills of the trade–dialogue, character development, the unfurling of story, where to begin and end the story, how to create three-dimensional characters.
After the practice novel I took on a subject I have considerable passion for, and that is the Native American. This was the beginning of Baggattaway (the word is Algonquin for “bumping hips” or what we call lacrosse). Thanks to a chance meeting with a bronze sculptor whose work is featured on the cover, I got the big idea for my first novel. I did extensive research on the history of the French and Indian War, especially as it affected the native tribes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I traveled to Chippewa country and interviewed tribal historians, walked the reservations and hiked the countryside that plays such a central role in the story. Baggattaway combines war, history, sport, love and death with a narrative twist that has been well received.
Within 18 months of publishing Baggattaway, I began to work on a story idea that came out of a real-life conversation with dear friends. This story would become Finch In A Funnel, a story of destination and its costs. At its heart, it is a Romantic story–the main character abandoning not only his home culture, but also his wife and best friends in pursuit of elusive and Romantic goals, and, also, his dead daughter. The story is narrated by the Sahara Desert, and, yes, my younger son and I traveled to Morocco and out into the desert in 2010 just to ensure that this most amazing feature of Planet Earth had a voice, and, oh, yes it did, an ancient, omniscient voice! So it is the desert who narrates this story of four American travelers, two middle-aged couples, bound to participate in one another’s carefully chosen itineraries and to watch as friends purge demons and realize ambitions in their travel. One of the interesting challenges I faced while writing Finch In A Funnel was the Arab Spring. The event, cataclysmic in the Arab world, was quite important to shaping the ending I chose for the story.
In April 2013 I began work on a stylized form of memoir, as, it seems, I have attained an age where one thinks of summing up one’s existence. Stylized in the sense that I did not want to simply tell the straight-on narrative of my life, too boring even for me! So it occurred to me that dreams are, in fact, a kind of memoir written by our unconscious minds. This idea would become Raw Footage / dream-tipped memoir. The narrator for this book is a seahorse, of course–seahorse as in hippocampus, the reptilian brain thought to be responsible for the production of dreams. This is a collection of bits of memoir embedded in dream–crazy, jagged, sexy, game-changing dream, 41 of them in all. My own seahorse berates me with impunity, shattering me with images I’d rather forget, harassing me with failure memories, patronizing me with the occasional piece of praise, so that the reader gradually starts to separate dream from memoir and forms a picture of the writer. This was a very fun story to write as it required very little editing. Each of the 41 dreams is told in five pages or less, and once I got the handle on how my seahorse would playback the dreams to me, it was like a piece of improvised music. You don’t go back with your blasted right brain and edit the thing to death! You leave it how it came out.
Right, the bio. Born February 19, 1952 in Glens Falls, New York. Oldest of eight kids. Graduated SUNY Binghamton 1973, German major. Lettered in wrestling. Traveled to Austria in my junior year. (Both wrestling and the junior year abroad figure into one or more of the dreams in Raw Footage. Also, one of the dreams is written in German.) Traveled the rich world on a corporate expense account for 21 years before settling into teaching…and writing…and traveling the rest of the world on my own dime.
I am so thankful to be able to share my stories in this day of the self-published writer.
A profound Thank You if you decide to sample some of my writing.
Michael / W. M. / William Michael