We’ve all heard some variation of this dream: When I retire, I’ll finally write my book. Durango author Philip Raymond Brown is living, thriving proof that those when-I-have-time dreams can actually come to fruition—and end up taking on unexpected lives of their own.
“I don’t think it’s unusual that people slog through their life of work and dream of something bigger or different,” Brown says.
His own dream has emerged in an ongoing series of novels fusing sci-fi and historical fiction. It Gives You Strength and its sequel, Harvesting Earthlings for Fun and Profit, follow an alien scientist who gets stuck in a human host during Prohibition (later the Great Depression) and must complete his missions to avoid Earth’s destruction.
Brown has been writing his entire professional career—just not at the intersection of these disparate genres. He wrote every day of his life while serving as a trial lawyer, both for other firms and as head of his own practice.
“As a civil litigator, most of my time was spent writing,” he says. “I was just writing facts based on evidence, though. It wasn’t until I closed my practice and moved to Colorado that I had time to write fiction.”
That fact-based writing experience got him started. He conducted extensive research into the Prohibition era in Vermont and upstate New York, where Brown was raised and his family has roots, looking to write a historical account. But history proved weirder than fiction, which led to the integration of the otherworldly elements of his novels.
“I take a historical fact, and I weave it into the plot,” Philip says. “It’s difficult to do, but people have commented that they learn about interesting points of history while being entertained.”
All this creative work has emerged since Brown and his family relocated from Hawaii to Durango several years ago. Here, his wife and children have thrived as much as Brown has, steeped in the artistic culture that has welcomed them so readily.
“I’m so impressed by this town and the way people treat each other,” he says. “In Hawaii, they called it the aloha spirit. In Durango, people don’t refer to it that way, but they take care of each other in the same way.”
It remains to be seen how and whether our corner of Colorado factors into Brown’s future writings. But there is no doubt that his family is here to stay.
Both of Philip Raymond Brown’s titles are available at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango.