Arthur Phillips: LibraryThing Author Interview
Arthur Phillips was born in Minneapolis in 1969 and educated at Harvard. He has been a child actor, a jazz musician, a speechwriter, a dismally failed entrepreneur, and a five-time Jeopardy! champion. His novels include Prague, The Egyptologist, Angelica, and the newly released The Song Is You.
Tell me about your library.
I tend to keep only those books that I think are 5-star, or that I need for current research. My library is almost entirely fiction, and it's alphabetized by last name. What else? Paperbacks, usually, as they take up less space. First bookcase: Amis, Kingsley through Mann, Heinrich. Second bookcase: Mann, Thomas through Woolf, Virginia.
What are you reading now?
What books would people be surprised to know you own?
I could list dozens of writers, hundreds of books. Let's just pick a country.
You've traveled a lot, it seems. What's your favorite place?
I have lived very happily in several places in the US and Europe. I was very happy in Budapest, so happy that I wrote a book about it (Prague). I was very happy in Paris (where I wrote The Egyptologist). Strangely, I wrote the Victorian ghost story, Angelica, on the sunny beaches of South Carolina.
Your new novel, The Song is You seems like a departure from your previous novels. It's set in present day, for one. Tell me more about the book.
It's a strange love story, I suppose. A love story between two people who consider whether they might be happier if they never meet. A love story of a man for music (especially his iPod). A love story of a shattered marriage. It's also got some Jeopardy jokes. It is set in the present, very much the present. 2009, January to November...
You were a Jeopardy! champion! Do you go to trivia nights at local bars and clean up now?
I went to one with some friends. They cleaned up; I drank and cheered them on.
If you could write a final Jeopardy! question on authors, what would it be?
This American author lost on Jeopardy on a very easy question, and should have known better, and apparently would have known the answer if he had gone to Princeton. Too bad he's a loser. (Who is Arthur Phillips?)
And lastly, what's on your iPod?
That's a very personal question, and one that would require listing all 8,000 songs, so that you had a full picture. How about this, instead: favorite classical composer: Erik Satie. Favorite jazz sax player: Dexter Gordon. Favorite band to come out of Manchester, UK: tie: The Smiths and New Order.
—interview by Abby Blachly
Books by Arthur Phillips
The Egyptologist (1495 copies)
Prague (1284 copies)
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives and Broken Hearts (531 copies)
The Tragedy of Arthur (489 copies)
Angelica (433 copies)
The Song is You (404 copies)
The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books (259 copies)
Port Arthur Sketchbook (7 copies)
Launceston sketchbook (6 copies)
Clare and District Sketchbook (4 copies)
Monotype Recorder Setting Mathematics (1 copies)
Survey of African marriage and family life (1 copies)
Moonta, Wallaroo, Kadina Sketchbook (1 copies)
Recent author interviews
Brad Stone (2017-03-22)
David Mitchell (2015-10-26)
Sharma Shields (2015-02-20)
Kara Cooney (2014-11-21)
Mallory Ortberg (2014-10-22)
Gregory Maguire (2014-09-25)
Ann Leckie (2014-09-24)
Andy Weir (2014-08-18)
Matthew Thomas (2014-07-24)
Maximillian Potter (2014-07-24)
Alexi Zentner (2014-05-20)
Ian Doescher (2014-03-24)
Jeff Greenfield (2013-11-13)
Patrick Ness (2013-10-16)
Tom Standage (2013-10-16)
Samantha Shannon (2013-08-20)
Paul Collins (2013-07-24)
Travis McDade (2013-07-24)
Colum McCann (2013-05-22)
Jennifer McVeigh (2013-05-22)
About author interviews
Each month we feature a few exclusive interviews with authors in our "State of the Thing" newsletter. Know an author who might want to be interviewed? Find out more.