Please say Hello to DEBUT Author Phillip Twining!

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2012 at 9:31 am

Please say Hello to DEBUT Author Phillip Twining! “The Story of Eva Burns” in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables, is his first paid-published story. We hope to see many more stories that feature his unusual, mind-bending twists that Eva Burns introduces us to.

Let’s get right to it. How did you find Open Heart Publishing?

I don’t remember! I might have done an internet search for writing contests.


There you go, folks, a true writer is born. You can usually find us in Duotrope and many networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs. Just look for Open Heart Publishing!

Since this is your first publication, can you hint what else you may have in store for us?

I’m currently writing a series of essays on public education. I’m absolutely appalled with the way Texas is treating its children and turning schools into drill camps. I advocate for stronger community control of public schools, more equitable distribution of funds, and an easing of standards so students can aim for enlightenment instead of commodification and docility.


Sounds like you may have a bit of an agenda-bone in you. Do you discuss politics, or religion, or other important issues in your works?

The story I have published in An Honest Lie [“The Story of Eva Burns”] is not consciously political and, as far as I can tell, not religious at all. It may be one of the last stories I’ve written that hasn’t had politics in mind. For although it’s not necessary for a story to take a political stance to be good, today I feel morally obligated to address and discuss social inequities in my writing.

Of course I have certain principles that I adhere to, but I think it’s important to acknowledge prevailing viewpoints—even if they’re not my own—and to make writing a collective effort. That is, I think the public has to be kept in mind if the author has any intention of moving them. And I do. Therefore, I want to reach the viewpoint readers most likely already have—say, on some moral issue—but to make it kinetic and alive.


This is an outstanding and heartfelt viewpoint. I think most writers would agree that we have a responsibility to the public and to our readers. What about to our publishers? Which is more important: Writing without constraint, or within the confines of a publisher’s guidelines? Why?

Reasonable deadlines are healthy, but, yeah, the writer needs all the freedom he or she can get. So much of what we write is trapped in ideological bubbles and to codify that type of writing is oppressive. Of course publishers are trying to cover their own end and it’s a constant struggle for creative freedom and the bottom line. Small publishers seem to be better about managing the two.


Wow, there’s a thought we can hook into. Why do you think small publishers are better at managing artistic freedoms? Does this make you less likely to seek publication with a larger house? And how does this influence what you read?

I work at a radical/progressive bookstore called MonkeyWrench Books. We’re volunteer owned and operated and any decisions effecting the store are made collectively. Our goal is not only to provide books you wouldn’t normally find in large bookstore chains, but also to provide a safe space for community events, organizing, and education. We’ve been around for ten years and even in the sour book economy we’re still thriving and championing social justice.

Since book sales have fallen, we [MonkeyWrench Books] have lost credit with the large publishers and distros, but our friends in the small publishing firms, with whom we have actual interpersonal relations, have been patient with debt collection and continue to help us out during a particularly rough financial time. We do a lot of business with small publishers whose duty is to forward a message of social justice and radical critique of our current political situation.

Personally, by delving into the independent and radical publications, I’ve not only improved my critique of many facets of US foreign and domestic policy, corporate capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, but I’ve been roused to act on a local level to organize and mobilize my community. Currently, I’m working with a friend to begin a free language school that brings together Spanish and English speakers who don’t normally interact. The aim is to have them teach each other not only their language, but share their culture as well. Without books on radical, popular education that we receive from small, independent publishers, we’d be at a loss on how to effectively organize our school.


Wow. That is an impressive and aggressive agenda to pursue. I know for me that writing is very therapeutic, as well as self-educating. Why do you think that is?

Lots of reasons, I’m sure. It’s good to get the chaos out of your mind and logically piece it together on paper. It’s also nice to know that you are producing something and that you have something to say that matters enough to be planned out and executed.


Outstanding. You are a deep-thinking individual, but let’s change gears and ask a fun question. If you lost your dominant arm, how would you continue writing?

I’d move to Montparnasse, hang out in cafes, and smoke lots of cigarettes. Worked for Cendrars.


There you go! Another sign of a true writer. Let’s finish with a blurb about your childhood family.

My father was a pediatrician and my mother drove my brother and me around to our respective soccer and football practices. There was always plenty to eat and we all had our own rooms. Like many kids in my situation, I never thought that anyone lived any differently.


Perhaps this helps explain your generous nature. I’d like to thank Phillip Twining for taking the time to answer my questions, and can’t wait to read his story, “The Story of Eva Burns” in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables, coming soon!

Thanks again, Phillip!

Phillip Twining BIO:

Phillip Twining is a new and aspiring writer and poet. As an undergrad, he won the University of Texas at Austin Fall 2009 Writing Contest for best personal essay. He has since been developing his political ideas at MonkeyWrench Books, a radical bookstore, collectively owned and operated in Austin, TX. Thoroughly deserving of invectives like “pinko,” “commie-anarchist,” and “rabble-rouser,” he hopes to soon publish a collection of short stories and poems that deal critically with issues of race and power strucures. Fascinated by the resilience and resistance of youth culture, he has recently become a high school educator in hopes of teaching and learning better ways to confront the problems we face as a society.


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications

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