Talk show host, author, comedy poet, radio goblin, sasquatch, and what else?
This post has a theme tune.
(Minor warning for fans, there are some tiny spoilers here and there)
I wrote this post for everyone who wants to know a bit more about me, my comedy and my books. I’ve written it in the style of a Q&A for two reasons:
It makes me look popular and sexy and cool
A few of these questions have been asked by real people in the past
My degree was in writing, not maths
Q: What is a ‘Phillip Carter’?
A: I’m a British poetry comedian, Science Fiction author, radio comedy person, and talk show host, not always in that order. My work has been compared to writing by Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams, and Frankie Boyle, sometimes on the same day. I like to tackle ‘what-if’ stories, such as ‘what if there were robot crabs in a higher dimension that could eat time?’
I have an MA in Creative Writing, and at one point my genuine career goal was to get a PHD so I could write a thesis about time travel and be a “Doctor of Time Travel”. I didn’t manage.
Since then I founded Halfplanet Press and started the hard work of convincing total strangers that self-published books can be just as good, or better, than traditionally published books.
Q: How will your books make me feel?
A: Like this, probably.
Q: What do you write about?
A: As a Sci-Fi author I write about big existential things such as human extinction, the implications of time travel, space crabs, and why aliens might be visiting us and keeping themselves hidden. Time travel and simulation theory are my favourite themes right now so my next few books tackle those. The Stephanie Glitch tackles both at the same time, and the Earthloop Trilogy is mostly time travel with some sim theory thrown in. They also connect in a weird way, but you don’t need to read one to read the other.
As a comedy writer, I write about evil space crabs, sucking my ex-wife’s door handles, and all the best ways to hide a body. My comedy side comes out a lot on my talk show, and like with my fiction, there are returning themes and references that over time become memes, like the crabs did.
I also write speeches/poetry for weddings and host radio things and live events. I enjoy the challenge of making people laugh, so I find that comes up as a central theme or goal in a lot of my work. Making people think is the second goal. I like to hope my Sci-Fi covers that part.
I realised only recently in my life that the comedy side of my writing is an unavoidable part of myself. You see, I see Sci-Fi and Comedy as two parallel paths. They both explore the weird, unthought corners of experience, and they both twist reality in such a way that it becomes a lens through which we can see something new about human nature. They both chisel down to something deeper than the surface-level entertainment we find elsewhere.
They also both include probing.
Q: What’s the talk show about?
A: The Phillip Carter Show’s main philosophy is:
Shake clever people until funny things fall out.
and the driving force behind it is my determination to create a platform which comedians, authors and other weirdos can use to boost their careers and find a new audience. Weirdos is a compliment here. I’m trying to bring together several different things here, and the result is a show that should be both informative and funny. My goal for it this year is to get it on a stage somewhere.
Q: What’s your favourite story or character?
A: My favourite story is probably Lucy’s introduction in Who Built The Humans? or the entire novel The Stephanie Glitch. I love Lucy as a character and her introduction contains one of the weirdest lines in the book.
“The first brought their dead in briefcases”
and it only gets weirder from there. My readers often love her too. She’s the first character I have written who got fan art.
The second is the Intersect timeships. They aren’t technically characters, but they do have low level AI that allows them to get up to mischief.
My favourite character has to be Lax Morales. He started out as a small part in a comedy story, but I liked him enough to transport him to a serious universe, where he still functioned as comic relief for a while. But when the Furukawa Universe was complete, I realised it wasn’t. There were three more books in it. I kept this secret for a while, but then people started to ask if there would be more. So yes, Lax is coming back, and this time there are three of him, time-looped and dizzy, trying to save the world.
Q: What can I find in this newsletter if I subscribe?
A: You can find a lot of short stories in the basic subscription (free). You have to sign up to for some other sections separately (also free). This way, my newsletter is unlike many others because I can post a lot of work, and you can choose which bits you see. It’s a buffet of content, from sci-fi to satire.
No boredom here.
No spam either. Unless you sign up for the spam newsletter*.
On top of that, I post discounted sci-fi books I find through bookfunnel promotions and events I attend. I try to link these into my own posts to keep your inbox as clean as possible, so you will sometimes see a link at the end of a short story leading to a little online bookshelf. This is how I give back to the authors and readers who have supported me on my journey.
If you ever find there are a few too many emails or want to critique my writing, comment on one of my posts. I value the feedback.
*There is no spam newsletter
Q: What’s the Patreon/KoFi for?
A: The Patreon is my alternative to a paid tier here on Substack. The reason behind it is that the lowest possible tier on Patreon is lower than you can go here on Substack, and that Patreon has integrations with Discord, where I host my beta reading group and writing community. Patreon is also a monthly subscription, and I had some teething issues here with the yearly subscriptions. Essentially, I want paid subscribers to have a smoother experience, and Patreon is right now the best way to enable special benefits for paid subscribers.
Patreon supporters get a special badge on the discord and eventually, merch and discounts on any crowdfunded books. It’s a monthly subscription, meaning you can cancel at any time and it just stops next month’s payment. There are multiple tiers for different levels of content, too.
The Ko-Fi is a one-time donation box for anyone who wants to support me, but who doesn’t want to subscribe to any paid tiers. You can also order custom comedy poems and art through there, if you fancy a drawing of David Bowie fighting aliens in space. Because that’s another thing I do.
Q: What’s Discord?
Discord is a free chat room / voice call service. I created mine so that I can discuss books with fans in a streamlined way. So there is a chat room for each project, as well as workshops and resources folders for any other writers here. You will find things in the discord which you won’t find here on substack.
Similarly, exclusive voice chats and text chats exist for Patreon members, but there is a lot of free content too, including a book club, inspiration channels, meme groups, and a writer’s workshop. If you ever want to know what I’m listening to when I’m writing, the discord has a channel for that too.
It is still a work in progress at the moment, but you can check it out here.
Again, it’s totally free. The patreon links paid subscribers to exclusive channels and grants them control over some of the chat rooms, as well as special badges and the ability to add their own files.
Q: What inspired you to write Who Built The Humans?
A: I wanted to create a brand new type of book. My basic pitch was ‘a multiverse in your hands’ and the execution of that idea is a 125,000 word long short story collection that is also a novel, if you read its chapters in the right order. It was a genre-defying marketing nightmare and I love it.
Imagine a book in which existentialist science fiction, dark comedy, and brutal stand-up poetry got together at a dimly lit cocktail bar and made eleven evil babies that could travel through time. That book would be called WHO BUILT THE HUMANS? and the evil babies would be entire universes for you to explore. That’s right, it has eleven universes in it, and depending on which way you read them, some of the endings change.
It was very popular at ComicCon but it confuses most advertisers.
Q: Will you be crowdfunding your next book like you did with WBTH?
A: Yes. I plan to crowdfund at least the first book in the Earthloop trilogy, as well as Who Built The Humans? Two, which should come out late 2023 to mid 2024. Right now I have not launched the page for that because I am taking a marketing course and want to use my newfound knowledge before the launch, rather than after. I made some mistakes with promoting WBTH1 and I want to learn from them.
Q: What’s happening with the Earthloop trilogy?
A: Earthloop nearly got funded on Kickstarter back in August 2022, but I had a much smaller audience back then. I have since been working on it privately. Last week I worked out how it all ends, and it is brutal.
Like with The Stephanie Glitch, I might try to query Earthloop for traditional publishing some time in early 2023. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll crowdfund it. But either way, you’ll still see free chapters here because I want to share them with you. Really, the only things tradpub has that I don’t is distribution and marketing, both of which I am getting better at, so we’ll see.
Q: What’s happening with the Seven Stories Series?
A: Whilst the first book in the Seven Stories Series is nearly finished, it doesn’t have the same audience recognition that WBTH2 has. It is nearly finished, but I am trying to work out how to distribute Advance Reader Copies to people before I launch it. What’s certain is that when I feel ready to share those, you’ll see them here.
Q: Why work on so many books simultaneously?
A: I get this question a lot. The simple answer is that to take a break from writing or creating one thing, I often move over to another. I won’t force an idea to fit into a story if it doesn’t want to, and the result of that process is that my ideas have room to grow and turn into other books, jokes, poems, etc. Just as Lax Morales moved from comedy to serious and back a little bit into comedy, so too do entire planets and civilisations come and go through my body of work. For example, I knew WBTH2 was going to happen back in late 2020, but I kept it a secret until Christmas day 2022.
The less simple answer is that WBTH2 and the Seven Stories Series are both filled with short stories, and that writing them both simultaneously doesn’t feel like multitasking at all. Earthloop and The Stephanie Glitch take place in the same multiverse, so some of the tech and lore from one informs the other. In fact, writing one of them six years after the previous one might be harder, so I am glad I am writing them all at the same time, even if it feels like it takes longer.
Simply put, working on everything at once makes my brain happy. These are not just standalone books (though they are designed to work as such) but a larger story universe that I hope you will all enjoy exploring. If you’ve read WBTH1, you will know I put a lot of thought into the structuring of my universes so that they work for casual readers and lore archaeologists simultaneously.
And WBTH2 will be darker, funnier, and weirder because of this process.
Q: Where can I find your comedy stuff?
A: At the moment most of it is on my instagram, tiktok or youtube (all titled realphillipcarter). The comedy is a part of myself that was sadly neglected and I’m still amazed whenever someone leaves a decent comment on some joke I’ve made about the world ending. People say I’m naturally funny, and I intend to lean into that this year. I seem to be doing okay with the radio thing, and I’ll be putting together a comedy poetry book some time mid-2023, if not earlier.
So that’s it. Thanks for reading this far. Say hi in the comments if you like, it’s nice to see the people who are supporting me on this weird journey. If you’re a reader, what are you most interested in seeing? And if you’re a writer, do we write similar things, or are you from another universe entirely?
Hola from Barcelona(Spain), Phillip!
My name is Meenaz.
Pleased to meet you. I haven’t read your books yet, but Who Built Humans title has an intriguing ring on it! I’ll check it out. Thank you! Have a lovely week. 🧡
Phillip you are an inspiration! Loved your q&a newsletter. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to finding your comedy! --fishclamo