In “Mesa Boys,” Ronnie plots a haphazard heist with a twisted con man. In “The Feud,” tough-as-nails Rex lets his resentment for a local pot dealer cloud his judgement. And in “Bar Burning,” a mysterious drifter goes toe-to-toe with his new lady’s psychotic ex-husband.
ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS is a hellfire ride through working class America’s angsty underbelly.
Author Matt Phillips spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My hope is that readers hop in, latch their seat belts, and enjoy the ride. These stories are a wild journey down a long desert highway––pure speed, fun, and danger.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
This book draws a direct line to the rural noir thrillers of Jim Thompson, Daniel Woodrell, Harry Crews, Flannery O’Connor, and others. If noir is to be rural, I believe it must be honest in its depictions of the rural mindset and tendency to dabble in the outlaw side of life (whether that’s right or wrong). I hope the book is a contemporary take on the outlaw mindset from my own experience and perspective.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I was surprised at my own understanding and continued realization of the rural-urban dichotomy. This is a growing rift in American society, and I was interested in exploring this dynamic as a person who, now, lives in a major American city. I used to live in a rural area and it made a huge impact on me (both for good and ill).
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
This book, in so many ways, is a subtle exploration of personal ties––you’ll find sons abandoned by fathers, a drifter intent on severing all earthly ties, and often futile attempts at salvaging love and joy.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Harry Crews wrote the most unique stories––I appreciate his constant willingness to experiment and let his characters lead him to surprise. Thomas McGuane, I think, taught me how to write about family in a compelling way. Ben Whitmer and Joe Lansdale are two writers I’m returning to again and again… Jim Thompson’s Savage Night. Dorothy B. Hughes with The Expendable Man and In a Lonely Place. I’ll stop there because I can go on and on and on…
Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books include Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. He has published crime stories across the web at Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Manslaughter Review, and elsewhere.
To learn more about Matt, please visit his website.