- Deep Blood (2013)
- A Simple Murder (2011)
- Into the Storm: A U.S. Marine in the Persian Gulf War (2001)
- Enemy Within (April 1999)
by Emily Cranford (SHS) 2002, Updated 2015
Phillip Thompson was born on March 26, 1962, in Columbus, Mississippi. He and his family also lived for awhile in Meridian, Mississippi, but in 1970, he returned to Columbus and graduated from New Hope High School in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Following graduation from high school, he moved to Oxford, Mississippi, to attend Ole Miss to pursue a career as a journalist and a Commissioned Officer in the Marine Corps. His first book Enemy Within is set in Oxford, Mississippi.
Thompson joined the Marine Corps in 1984 as an artillery office and served in the Marine Corps for twelve years. As a Marine, he served in California and Hawaii, aboard the USS Missouri, and in combat during the Persian Gulf War with the 1st Marine Division. He also spent almost two years crossing the island nations of the South Pacific as the lead planner for the 50th Anniversary of World War II in the Pacific. While aboard the Missouri, he began writing his first stories, both fiction and nonfiction. He also began reading John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, which had big influence on him.
He served in combat with the 1st Marine Division during Operation Desert Storm. and while on duty, he wrote several historical pieces for Civil War magazine.
After leaving the Marine Corps in 1996 to pursue a journalism career, he worked as a reporter for his hometown newspaper, the Commercial Dispatch, and as an editor at the Tupelo-based Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
In 1997, Thompson moved to Virginia to work as a reporter and editor with Marine Corps Times. He also worked for The Washington Times, and as a staff cartoonist for ten years at Marine Corps Times, where he eventually became the managing editor of that paper. In addition, he has also worked as a defense analyst, media spokesman, consultant, speechwriter and Senate aide.
Thompson’s second book is a non-fiction work entitled Into the Storm: A U.S. Marine in the Persian Gulf War about his service during Operation Desert Storm. He has also written two additional novels: A Simple Murder and Deep Blood. The main character in Enemy Within and A Simple Murder is Wade Stuart. Some short fiction has appeared in O-Dark Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project; Thrills, Kills ‘N’ Chaos; Out of the Gutter Online; The Shamus Sampler II and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Before writing Deep Blood, Thompson attended the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference as a fiction writer with his short story, Fishing, which became the basis for his third novel Deep Blood. The novel is set in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Phillip Thompson lives in Virginia.
by Emily Cranford (SHS)
What author do you think influenced you the most?
I can only pick one? It’s pretty hard to decide on any single influence because there are so many writers out there that are so good, regardless of genre. Writers who made me want to write include Tennessee Williams, Shelby Foote, John D. MacDonald, Norman Mailer, Leon Uris. Each of these writers worked in a different area, yet all are superb storytellers – and that’s the key. Likewise, poets have influenced me as well: Roland Flint, William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost. Again, their storytelling capabilities hold us in awe. Personally, I think the best Mississippi writer in the business today is Steve Yarbrough.
When did you become interested in writing?
I’ve been interested in writing since elementary school in Columbus, when we would publish a newspaper as a class project. In the 8th grade, I had an English teacher – Mrs. Barbara Pittman – who was one of the greatest teachers I ever had, and she taught creative writing, with a real emphasis on creative. I wrote several short stories in that class; that is probably the real moment I decided I wanted to be a writer.
What kind of student were you in high school?
Well, if you ask the teachers, they might give you a different answer than I. I went to New Hope in Lowndes County. I made good grades in high school – especially in English and history – but I was also an extremely disruptive student. Not in a malicious way. More like a mischievous way. I spent my share of time in exile from class out in the hallway. But I was also involved in school. I played football, was the class president of my junior and senior class and vice-president of my sophomore class. I went to Boys’ State and served as a page in the Mississippi Legislature. But while all that sounds like I took school very seriously, I really didn’t. I didn’t have very good study habits, and I sort of glided my way through.
I stopped and started writing Enemy Within at least a half dozen times over half a dozen years, and unfortunately the finished product shows this. Once I decided to finish the book, it took about a year. Same with Into the Storm, but I had a period where all I did was transcribe my handwritten journal entries into a Word file. That took months to do. Then, I began to write it. It took a little more than a year to write; much longer to sell it, though. That was probably about a two-year process.
Are you working on a new book right now? Do you have a title for it yet? What is it about?
I am working on a second novel now, a murder mystery set in Hawaii, with a working title of A Simple Murder. I’ve been searching for an agent for this manuscript for a while; and unfortunately, I just ended a year’s work with a New York agent on this particular manuscript.
Do you have any advice for future writers and students today?
Advice, hmmmm. Keep writing. Don’t get discouraged. Develop a thick skin so you can handle the rejections and the criticisms. Keep writing. Keep writing.
I think I could not write outside of my experience as a Mississippian and a Southerner. My upbringing in Mississippi – and I think this is true of most people, whether they are writers or not – gave me such a strong sense of place that I couldn’t escape it if I tried. The South is so full of dialect and drama and anguish and love and family that it’s inescapable.
If you were not a writer, what would you be?
If I were not a writer, I’d probably be…unemployed? Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that; my day job as a journalist takes care of that. I think if I had to pick another occupation, I’d try acting.
- Phillip Thompson’s blog is here.
- Amazon author’s page for Thompson
- Amazon reviews for Deep Blood
- Amazon review for Enemy Within
- “Phillip Thompson”. The Mississippi Writers Page. June 1999. 2 December 2002.
- Thompson, Phillip. Email Interview. 13 December 2002.
- Yarborough, Leigh. “Former Dispatch Reporter Weaves Dramatic Tale of Military Intrigue.” Commercial Dispatch. May 2, 1999.