Getting to Know Phillip DePoy

14 Sep

I discovered Phillip DePoy when I read one of his Fever Devlin novels and loved it, The Witches Grave. I then read The Widow’s Curse and that started my quest to read the rest.  He has a great voice and his novels are filled with well-rounded quirky characters who are involved in mysteries with a twist.  He kept me guessing right up to the very end. Now let’s find out a little more about Mr. DePoy:

phillipWhere are you from? I was born in Rockford, Ill., but I don’t remember it. We moved to Atlanta when I was five because my father got a job playing French horn in the Atlanta Symphony. Despite the accidental placement of my birth, I seem to consider myself from the south. The south doesn’t know that. It seems to consider me an oddity: a leftwing Taoist who prefers jazz to NASCAR. Still, the south is as much in me as I am in the south. So.

How long have you been writing? I consider 1965 the beginning of my so-called writing career. My 10th grade English teacher, Marilyn May, liked a short story I’d written, told me I ought to be a writer, and submitted the story for a prize. I really loved Marilyn May, so I thought I should go along with her assessment. My first poem was published in 1973 (and I published poetry for many years after that) so that’s also a good, you know, marker.

What do you write?I’ve written two mystery series, one stand-alone thriller, which is my newest book (see below) and one very strange, unclassifiable book. The first mystery series, featuring detective Flap Tucker , is urban, arch, as much a parody of noir as an example of that genre. The second series, the Fever Devlin novels, concerns a folklorist in the Appalachian mountains and veers toward literary fiction, but let’s not mention that. The strange book came out in 1979 and is called MESSAGES FROM BEYOND. It is essentially messages from famous dead men who appear in alphabetical order to tell me what the afterlife is like for them. Each message is particular to the man, and it is preceded by my own biographical sketch of the spirit in question. I also write plays, and have done so for twenty years. I’m currently working on a commissioned play about spies.

Tell us a little about your publisher and agent.My agent is Maria Carvainis of the Maria Carvainis Agency in New York. The publisher of the Flap Tucker books was Dell, the current publisher (for the Fever Devilin novels and the new book) is St. Martin’s Press, also, of course, in New York.

How many books have you published so far? The newest book makes eleven for me.



What is your writing day like? I generally write in the morning. When I’m on a contract I write from a general outline, though I always depart from the outline, and I set an arbitrary number of pages I have to write before I can stop. Structure is good, if only to have a launching pad from which to depart.

Can you tell us how you found a publisher and/or agent?I signed my first agency agreement after sending out queries with samples to several New York agents that I’d found listed in the book Writer’s Market. It’s still a great source for writers, very clear about what to do, what to send, who’s looking for what. I think that’s a great place for any unagented writer to start. And in the current climate, alas, it’s almost impossible to get any notice from a publisher without an agent.

Do you have anything that just came out?My new book is called THE KING JAMES CONSPIRACY. It’s in all bookstores and on Amazon. The first reader to buy 5,000 copies gets a house in Tuscany. Sure, you’re saying, “for that kind of money I could buy my own house in Tuscany,” which is true. But then all you’d have as a big old empty house with nothing in it to read. The book is set in 1605 and concerns intrigue surrounding the creation of the King James bible. The main character is Brother Timon, a spy for the Catholic Church who is possessed of the remarkable ability to memorize thousands of pages of writing. His mission is to steal the bible without taking anything away from England except in his mind. The character is based on the real life Catholic Saint Giordano Bruno. The book has been compared to Umberto Eco’s NAME OF THE ROSE. In a real review. No kidding. I say that because it’s, I think, the highest praise I’ll ever receive, so I want to make the most of it before, you know, something happens. Like the reviewer realizes he’s gotten my book confused with something else he was reading.

the KingsJamesConaspiracy

What are you working on now?I’m in the middle of two novels, one about the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 and one, called THE MAN ON THE RADIO, about my grandmother who helped to raise me when she wasn’t in a mental institution—which explains, I think, a lot about my perceptions in general. I’m also about half-way through the first act of the play I’ve been commissioned to write.

Do you have some words of wisdom for us unpubs? I have no wisdom, but I do have personal experience, and it’s told me several things that have had a personal effect. I’ll say those things. The only reason to write—the only reason to do anything—is because you love the process. If you don’t love it, the other rewards will never be enough, and if you do love it, the universe very often opens doors for you. On a more practical plain: finish something. Write a whole novel or play poem or something. Show it to everyone. Listen to what they say without answering back. Take everything the say into consideration. Rewrite. Then get an agent. And don’t ever stop. If you just keep going, something will happen.

My website is

Hope you enjoyed our interview.  Are there any particular questions you like answered in future interviews?  Also do you have a favorite author you’d like to know more about?

Until next time,



Posted by on September 14, 2009 in Author Interviews


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2 responses to “Getting to Know Phillip DePoy

  1. virginiagruver

    September 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm


    Thanks for commenting. I love his Fever Devlin books also. I liked the idea that his new book was compared to ‘Name of the Rose’. Really liked that story as well as the movie with Sean Connery. I will have to check out the Ellis Peters series. I will let you know what he says about new books in the Fever Devlin series. He will be part of an upcoming blog.



  2. Diane Karch

    September 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I appreciate Mr. DePoy’s very busy schedule and his diversity in his writing. I am always impressed with people who can manage time so well.

    I was wondering whether Mr. DePoy mentioned any future Fever Devlin books. I enjoy reading series, if I like the characters, of-course. I end up missing the characters when the series is over. I liked reading Ellis Peters medieval mystery books. They take place in England and Wales in the 12th century, so it’s a few centuries earlier than The King James Conspiracy. Peters really developed her main character and I loved the settings she described. So, I am going to pick up Mr. DePoy’s new book. I am also curious about his reference to Tuscany. I have wanted to visit Tuscany for a few years. Every picture I have ever seen of Tuscany looks so incredibly fragrant and colorful.
    Congratulations to Mr. DePoy about his new book being favorably compared with Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose.

    Coincidentally, I had a 10th grade English teacher that turned me onto poetry. He had a really nice voice and I remember thinking at the time that I was amazed I actually liked the poems he was reading to us. He never inspired me to write poetry, however, but it did open my eyes up to it.



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