Interview with Mitchell Stokely
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
First of all, Cleve thank you again for the interview. I’m a new author and this is my first opportunity. You are very generous to give me this interview. So its very much appreciated! I am a new author so you have no idea how much this means to me. Thanks again.
My name is Mitchell Stokely, and I am a new author. My book is called “Phantammeron Book One”, which was just released October 31st, 2015. I was excited this year as I got to post a book on Halloween and take my son trick-or-treating. I am from Dallas, Texas; born and raised there. I have ancestors that were here in the 1830’s when it was part of Mexico, so Im one of the “original” Texans. But we love everyone here in Texas. My background is in art, with a BFA from SMU in the 1990’s. In 1998, I went into web development and software engineering. I took a break a few years ago from tech to try my hand at writing. And here I am with my first novel! I am also a single father of a 10 year old, my son, who lives with me. He is autistic and ADHD. So I am a proud parent of a very special and loving child whom I love and who is the one thing I live for now. He is an artist like his daddy and likes to dream up stories.
That’s about it!
- Who are your favorite authors?
I have read a lot of different things. But my tastes are weird. As far as newer authors I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan. I also like Stephen King and Kazuo Ishiguro’s work. Writing in fantasy, I’m of course obsessed with J.R.R. Tolkien. But Im less a fan of Lord of the Rings. His book The Silmarillion is my all-time favorite novel. It’s really a mythopoeia and so a very special book to me. I’ve read lots of other people I like….Lovecraft, Howard, Moorcock, George MacDonald, etc. I have read more mythology and history than anything else, however, which ranges from the Mabinogian, to the Prose Eddas, Kalevalas, Rig Veda, European Fairy Tales, etc etc. Most of my reading is in ancient mythology Western or European mythology. I do love the Native America, Mayan, and Hindu mythology as well.
- Tell us a bit about your books.
I started the Phantammeron back in 1989. I was only 24 years old and obsessed with ancient mythology, for some strange reason. I was reading a lot of ancient manuscripts of mythology at the libraries, plus the mythological studies of Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves, both of which got me thinking of writing in a mythological fictional style, incorporating facets of poetic prose with pagan symbology related to my personal psychological symbols. But it was Christopher Tolkien’s The Silmarillion that set me off on the idea of abandoning fantasy fiction for a time, and just delving into dreams and writing about much older Celtic mythology. That’s when I discovered the Lebor Gabála Erenn, Welsh Mabinogion, the Norse Eddas, and some ancient druidic/bardic poetry that would become the inspiration for the Phantammeron series. I ended up with about 12 books worth of stories by the time I turned 26 in 1991. That’s when I stopped writing and abandoned the project (I was broke). That all sat in a dirty storage unit until 2012, when I finally had the time and funds to write the book. Im an old man now at 50! It took me 2 years copy digitize all the notes, and a year to write the first book. So this book is a combo of the young and old me. This first book barely taps into the creation story behind the larger mythology. So I have many more stories and books to go.
- If you could travel back in time to any place and period in the past where and when would you go?
That’s an interesting question Cleve. I would love to be a mountain man in the American West in say 1820. America was beautiful, rugged, wild, and raw back then. Jefferson had just funded the Lewis and Clarke exploration team to travel up the Missouri in 1804. So it was an amazing to be an American and be free.
- What attracts you to writing in your genre?
Many people are embracing fantasy fiction now as a genre. It’s a long time coming. My work is fantasy but with a twist, as R.L. Steine says. Im more about mythopoeia and creating myths tied to some form of character development. So I guess Im fantasy but maybe something different. If you are a person that is looking for a fantasy book like the Simarillion with a rich and tragic story of Gods and myths and creatures and tragedy, then my books might interest you. My books have character development too, but not on the level most have today. I’m more into the larger operatic, I guess Wagnerian, and mythical tragedy of story-telling. The individual characters in my books fit into the larger drama and play of the world like Tolkien’s work, rather than the modern theme of the protagonist that saves the world, wins the crown, or saves the princess. I am more into story-telling that is closer to the darkness of European fairy tales, and trying to build on the older medium of tragedy and pathos from the Greeks, I guess. Im not sure I’ve been able to pull that off quite yet as a new writer, but all that is supposed to be in this first Phantammeron book.
- I see you like to delve into many different genres.
Yea, as above, I’m much more interested in developing my own “personal myth” from ancient myths and those symbols which still resonate in our brains….though we don’t know it. Karl Jung has talked about some of this in his writing on archetypes. And I think the genre that’s missed in some fiction is the exploration of those mythical archetypes; the pieces of story that don’t always end well or benefit anyone; that transcend kings, medieval battlefields, princesses, dragons, etc. Im very much in the “epic fantasy genre”. But I’m very focused on using my books to trigger readers into feeling their own ancient Celtic nature symbols……like ancient trees, magic pools, storms, the earth, shadows, mist, etc. and then showing those natural forms as parts of our unconscious self that symbolize something else. That might not make sense. But I think if you read ancient pagan mythology you see how our ancestors used story to connect our brains to nature, the Gods, the stories, and those symbols. It was all tied to the cycle of the sun and the seasons for Indo-Europeans. That’s where mythology crosses over and goes beyond protagonists and modern fantasy. That’s the genre and audience I’m hoping to find and connect with; the people who are craving that deeper story and deeper fairy tale that still dwells in the shadows of our subconcious. That’s why my books do better in Fantasy-Mythology as a category on Amazon, as opposed to swords and sorcery, kings, etc. for example.
- Are you planning to participate in any anthologies? Any hints about your story?
I don’t have any plans. If other writers invite me I would be excited to join. But I’m a newbie and haven’t earned my stripes yet. In terms of the Phantammeron, I have lots of poetry, backstory, hidden myths and even lighter stories like a children’s book Ive been illustrating for the last world of the Phantammeron. Some of the illustrations Ive done might be part of a collection someday. I’m very interested in illustration, too. So in terms of a collection of my own stuff, that may develop years from now.
- What do you like to do to relax?
I spend my time with my son. We do various things like draw together, play games, camping, etc. But we mostly do schoolwork, which never ends! I enjoy reading, listening to music. I have a rare illness that has sort of hobbled me, as I experience vertigo and autophony in my head and ears. Ive had surgeries on my brain to fix it but most have failed. I don’t enjoy loud places anymore, or crowds, music, etc. Until I get another surgery, Ill very content at home. Im much happier quietly reading or writing these days. We don’t watch much tv, either.
- What are you currently working on?
I will be working on the second Phantammeron book next. It will be released next year, maybe summer 2016. It will have many more characters, including the children of the characters in the first book. The next books will have all sorts of wild creatures and Gods and beings…the books and their mythology just get richer and expand from here, expanding on the central theme of the enchanted pool in the Phantammeron.
- How can readers connect with you?
You can visit my Facebook page on the Phantammeron or my website:
I will do my best to answer all questions or interests in the book.