The Donut Queen by Scott S. Phillips

The Donut Queen

REVIEW

Vampires get a bad rap these days. A terrible rap. Sure, it’s easy to point to the general body of work from the last decade and shrug at the overdone and uninspired and lazy, but that’s a vast oversimplification. All genres wax and wane, and amidst the swirling seas of creativity there are always gems to be discovered and cherished. If you’ve been keeping watch, you’ll know there is plenty of thick red blood left in the vampire genre. Still not convinced? Fire up WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (movie AND series), for one, and you will be.

Along those humorous and wildly entertaining lines, the PETE, DRINKER OF BLOOD series has been a treasure for the last few years. Since 2012 Scott Phillips has been entertaining us with tales of regular, everyman, Pete, transformed into a vampire in 1973 and sort of stuck in the seventies in so many (good) ways. The fabulous and distinctive covers by Lili Chin elucidate this aesthetic perfectly.

All poor Pete wants is to have an unexciting, normal life (or what passes as one for a creature of the night). Spending quality time with his girlfriend Angie, working his night job for the Department of Water and Power, listening to classic rock at the Starbucket diner. But a simple life is not in the cards. Over five novels (with a sixth in the works!) Pete, with a fantastic cast of friends, enemies, and frenemies, has navigated an increasing chaotic adventure oozing with greasy magic and the machinations of the insidious Untermeier’s Donuts.

This adventure and conflict comes to its penultimate conclusion in The Donut Queen. Maisie Untermeier, the aforementioned Donut Queen herself, has arrived in person to deal with the ever troublesome Pete, and with an unexpected and terrifying ally attempts to make good on that threat. But Pete has an unexpected, though possibly undesired, ally as well, and in typical Pete fashion, unlife never proceeds exactly as desired.

While you might possibly understand what the hell is going on if you jump right into this one without reading the preceding four, I’d strongly recommend picking up the others if you haven’t – well worth the price of admission.

The Donut Queen is available on Amazon now!

INTERVIEW – BETWEEN TWO FLAMES WITH THE SEVENTH TERRACE

TST: Welcome, Scott, to the Seventh Terrace of Purgatory. The sexiest terrace of course. And warm! Want to introduce yourself and tell us a little about your new novel, THE DONUT QUEEN? And possibly about the PETE, DRINKER OF BLOOD series in general?

Scott: Thanks! I like to be warm and sexy. By way of introduction, I  guess I’m just a guy who likes to write stuff. When I was a kid I used to make little Super-8mm movies, mostly because at the time I wanted to be a stop-motion animator, but as I kept making the flicks, I realized that I liked writing the scripts for ‘em better than doing the animation and whatnot. This led to writing a bunch of screenplays and I eventually sold one that became DRIVE (Dacascos, not Gosling). I wound up writing a handful of movies and a bunch of stuff that never got made (like the infamous Steven Seagal nightmare and the script I did for Kelsey Grammer’s production company at Paramount that basically broke my spirit). Along the way, I discovered I liked writing short stories a lot more than I liked dealing with Hollywood and around that time, I wrote my first novel, SQUIRREL EYES. After a truly unpleasant experience with the editor of my novel FRIDAY THE 13th: CHURCH OF THE DIVINE PSYCHOPATH, I decided to take a stab at self-publishing, and I’ve never looked back. 

As for PETE, I had originally written what became the first novel as a screenplay, although it was more of an Adam Sandler movie than what the book wound up being. My girlfriend Sarah Bartsch, who is also a writer (and we’re working on a couple books together right now), suggested turning it into a series, and THE DONUT QUEEN is the fifth book in that series. That one just came out at the end of April. They’re urban fantasy stories full of vampires, monsters, and magic, and they’re also pretty funny (I hope). 

TST: We love Pete, but why the hell would you select 1973 as the year his hair had to be trapped in? Not a particularly great year for hair if I remember, though I was only six and probably got my hair cut with a bowl.

Scott: I was nine and had that same bowl cut! Which is probably one reason I got picked on constantly, along with liking comic books and Star Trek. Remember when being a nerd actually got the shit kicked out of you? Anyway, I disagree on hair-years – personally, I’m all about the 70s hair, largely because as a guy who has had long hair (and is in the process of having it again now), it’s a lot easier to pull off the 70s thing than the 80s thing – hair metal or new wave. Of course, Pete doesn’t even have long hair, just a ‘fro. I guess this is where I should mention that 1973 is when Pete got himself vampire-bit, for those wondering what the hell we’re even talking about.

TST: So… greasy magic. Sounds like something that spontaneously happens when we leave fast food in the sun in the back seat of our Pontiac Aztec or possibly when Gary and the rest of the penguins get into the lube. How on earth did you come up with the concept and name for this unique flavor of sorcery?

Scott: One of the things I like to do with the Pete books is poke a little fun at genre tropes, and between writing the first and second books, I read MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson, and he came up with that insanely cool and insanely well-thought-out magic system, so I wanted to do the exact opposite with PETE HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. I figured I needed the lowest form of low magic, and you can’t get much lower than something that requires using your own pee (or other bodily fluids) to control it. I wanted a sort of magic that’s pretty much exclusively used by criminals and lazy people. The name is kind of a Trailer Park Boys reference – they’re always referring to anything particularly sleazy as “greasy,” and I just thought it fit. 

TST: The inclusion of the Fae in this novel is inspired. Did you plan this, or did you take a wrong turn at Albuquerque?

Scott: Thanks! But heck no, I don’t plan nuthin’, really. When someone asked Elmore Leonard if he outlines really tightly, he said “I don’t even have a loose outline. I just make it up as I go along.” That’s pretty much how I like to write – although I’m not comparing myself to Elmore Leonard, aside from not outlining. I tend to have little signposts in my head that I work towards but I like things to be flexible, and I find if I’m working from an outline I get all twisted up trying to stick to it even though my instincts are screaming at me to throw it out. So yes, wrong turn at Albuquerque, which is easy since I live just outside of the place. I guess it just felt like it was time for some faeries to show up in the Pete books. 

TST: What’s next for Pete? We hear tell of a capstone for his current set of adventures – though hopefully it won’t be three more years! And on related note, are you planning on writing any more Boone Butters stories? Please say yes.

Scott: I’ve just gotten started on the sixth book in the series, which is called THE GREASY MAGIC WAR. That will wrap up the Untermeier’s Donuts story arc that’s been going on since book two – and yeah, I definitely don’t want any more three-year stretches of writing one book! Depression is the enemy of cranking out the wordage, I can assure you. I’m feeling a bit better these days, though, and I’m writing every single day (and have been since January 1st, 2020). There will definitely be more Pete adventures after book six, although I think they’ll be more standalone stories unless I change my mind along the way. I already have an idea of what books seven and eight will be, in any case. I’d like to do a spin-off featuring Randy “Serious” Burns and his criminal cohorts, and I’ve got the next Boone Butters book percolating like crazy, but it’s just a matter of finding the time to write all the things. As I mentioned, Sarah and I are working on two books together – they’re both cozy mysteries, and we’re having a lot of fun with those. With any luck, the first one (WICKED SNARL: A DANGER POTATO MYSTERY) will be out by the end of the year.

TST: You have a great Patreon with a stream of terrible poems, video journals, and sneak peeks. And something called No Coward Bites where you eat… well, technically things you can put in your mouth and possibly swallow. What made you think this was a good idea?

Scott: Thanks! I try to make the Patreon thing fun and deliver some goofy stuff. Writing the terrible poems is my favorite thing about it. No Coward Bites is actually something I do for YouTube, so anyone can check it out, but folks on my Patreon get early access to new episodes. It was Sarah’s idea – I have a bunch of those disturbing old cookbooks full of horrifying recipes and she thought it would be cool if I made them and sampled them. The title is something my friend Greg Freeland said when I told him I was gonna make the Veg-All Pie for the first episode. I’d like to do the episodes more often, but not only is time a factor, I honestly dread having to eat the stuff so I put it off sometimes. Like the one I’ve got coming up – it involves chicken noodle soup, cream cheese, lemon Jell-O, and canned shrimp. The idea of putting that into my mouth-parts is utterly terrifying. 

TST: You wrote a couple of fantastic short stories for us back at Coffin Hop Press, in It’s a Weird Winter Wonderland and Knucklehead Noir. Any possibility of getting another story out of you in the near/medium/long future?

Scott: You are too kind. I would love to send more stories your way, but once again it comes down to the hours in the day. I’ve got a couple things kickin’ around my brain, so it’s not out of the question. As with any of us people what puts the words on the papers, the dream is that the book sales will pick up to the point where I can cut back on the day job a bit and get more of the real stuff done.

TST: Thank you for chatting with us! Any final words before we release the leg hold trap?

Scott: Only that I wish I had that fast food from the back seat of your car right now. 

5/5


About the Author:

Scott S. Phillips has written all kinds of stuff: films, TV, books, comics and even dialogue for talking dolls. He’s the author of the PETE, DRINKER OF BLOOD series, as well as several other books. Scott wrote the screenplay for the cult action flick DRIVE (1997), and twelve episodes of the CW Network’s KAMEN RIDER DRAGON KNIGHT.

Perhaps most importantly, he once performed as stand-in for the legendary Lemmy in the video for Motorhead’s “Sacrifice.”

You can find Scott at his Patreon page, where you can get cool exclusives like sneak peeks at chapters of upcoming books, a Patrons-only blog, read his monthly terrible poems (and see videos of him doing dramatic readings of those very same terrible poems), get your name listed in the acknowledgments of his books, and even have a character named after you!

You can also find Scott at Facebook and Instagram: @scottphillipsnm