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Hawai‘i Writers Almanac: Kathy Philips

A companion to our feature “The Hawai‘i Writer’s Life.”


A companion to our feature The Hawai‘i Writer’s Life, this compendium of writers, platforms, resources and more intends to map out our literary communities and individuals. It’s just getting started, but we hope it will grow to help them, and you, find each other, scheme together and maybe get some writing done. 


WHO: Kathy Philips, retired UH professor of writing and author.


WHAT: Author of four mainstream and university books and self-published works of sci-fi and fantasy. 


WHY: “I’m a single-fingers typist; maybe I use my left index finger for the space bar,” says 68-year-old Kathy Philips, who retired from the University of Hawai‘i as a popular teacher of comparative literature and, in her past six years, creative writing. “I loved teaching and writing for 35 years and I’ve written every single day since retirement,” which was five years ago.


She belonged to a writing group for many years. “Teaching at UH was my first and only job.” In 1977, she says, a fellow teacher, Roger Whitlock, “zapped me into his writing group my first week. We met every week. Everyone had to bring three new pages.”


Since then, Philips has written many books: one was published by a mainstream publisher (Manipulating Masculinity, a study of war and gender) and four by university presses. These received attention and were taught in courses. Lately, she’s turned out self-published fantasy and genre-bending novels and nonfiction. One, The Impossibly Thin Legs of My Racing Camels, is a multimedia collage and essayistic meditation about how the unusual bone structure of camels mirrors her own congenital bone deformity.


She says getting paid for teaching allowed her the freedom to write what she wanted. “I learned pretty fast that you can trust your own mind. Once you’ve started something, it’s making up its own path. And I’m just listening.”


Except for an Amazon Author Page, Philips skips social media and internet marketing. Her books are printed by CreateSpace and available on Kindle. “Nobody can find them, so they never get reviewed,” she says. “But these days, nobody gets reviewed.”


But that doesn’t stop her and, she says, it never will.


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