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READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Phillip Frey is the author of the tightly written thriller Dangerous Times, as well as a comedy novel Hym and Hur and a collection of short stories called The Master’s Ass and More. The short stories are moving and sometimes tragic, but there are also some nice touches of dark humor. In this interview Phillip Frey gives some good reading tips and talks about his acting and writing. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Los Angeles. He also lived in New York, performing in The New York Shakespeare Festival, and The Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center. He wrote, directed, and edited three short films, and had a film featured in the New York Film Festival.

Phillip Frey’s thriller Dangerous Times barrels along nicely through the streets of San Pedro, California. John Kirk is a mechanic and war veteran. His fairly miserable life becomes worse when he finds himself part of Frank Moore’s plan to steal drug money from his boss, gangster Eddie Jones. Frank plans to kill John Kirk, rob the gangster and pass off John Kirk’s corpse as his own. Frank is a bloodthirsty character. If he isn’t demonic, he’s close enough. But John Kirk survives and teams up with a down-on-his-luck cop to get the drug money themselves. Other characters join them in the hunt, like the niece of Eddie Jones the gangster, out for revenge on her uncle for killing her parents. But can they get their hands on the money while Frank Moore is loose? It seems nothing is an absolutely done deal.

READERSVOICE.COM: Did you start your novel Dangerous Times with the theme: the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and do you start long stories with a theme in mind, or did this theme emerge as you started writing?

PHILLIP FREY: I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing, but I don’t think I have ever started a project with a theme in mind, certainly not with Dangerous Times. For me, coming up with a theme happens after the work is completed. I have heard radio interviews with writers who speak about their themes, or what it was they were trying to communicate. This always sounds doubtful to me. I suspect they came to their conclusions after they finished the book. Possibly sometime during, but late in the game.
It’s like saying J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher in the Rye because he wanted America’s youth to see something of themselves, their circumstances, or whatever. No, he wrote a book and then reviewers and/or readers told him what it is about.
A patient in a sanitarium had begun painting on a canvas. The sanitarium director approached the patient and asked, “What is your painting going to be about?” The patient answered, “If I knew what it was about I wouldn’t be painting it.”

RV: Do you live in San Pedro, California, and did you drive around the harbour city researching the novel, or how did you become familiar with it?

PF: I live in Los Angeles, about twenty-five miles from San Pedro. I had been in San Pedro years ago on a day trip. When I had begun working on Dangerous Times the experience popped into my mind, and I realized it was the perfect setting. I then made several trips to San Pedro and did a lot of location research.

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– copyright Simon Sandal