Q&A with Vespasian Phantom: Unseen Cases of Detective Winston

Q&A with Vespasian Phantom: Unseen Cases of Detective Winston

Author Bio:

Vespasian Phantom is the talented author behind "Unseen Cases of Detective Winston". While studying abroad, Phantom's passions for reading and writing flourish. Despite her youth, Phantom writes with remarkable depth and emotion. Her narratives take readers on thrilling journeys that provoke thought and evoke emotion. As Phantom continues to unveil her stories to the world, she aims to ignite a love for storytelling and kindle the flame of imagination in others.

1 - The concept of Detective Winston's hidden past is intriguing. What inspired you to create this kind of protagonist with a dark secret?

I have always been a fan of crime fiction, ever since I was a teen. But each book I have picked up has had the same backstory - a detective who is unhappy with their life and is on a mission to change it for the better.

I was bored of it and decided to write my own crime fiction book with a protagonist who was the villain all along. 


2 - Can you elaborate on their dynamic (the two detectives) and how it evolves throughout the story?

Maxine and Detective Winston have a very special connection. Winston sees a younger, more innocent version of himself in Maxine, which leads him to approach her when she’s fresh out of the academy. But Winston soon realizes that Maxine is different than him. She’s not as easy to corrupt as he thought.

This leads to him being very disappointed with her, and at the end he almost hates her for not becoming him. I think many people will think that their relationship may be romantic, but it’s just platonic and strictly professional.


3 - Can you give us a glimpse into the types of crimes Winston and Maxine tackle? 

Inspired by the title, Maxine and Detective Winston tackle the ‘unsolvable’ crimes. Crimes that have been sitting in the archives for years, without any explanation. They like the thrill of finding killers, who think they have gotten away with their crimes.

I’d like to think that they pull random boxes of case files and let fate choose one they will solve. Some of the case files went unsolved, even by the two best detectives on the East Coast, which only makes Winston more and more unstable. 


4 - What character(s) were the easiest to write? Why?

Bran was perhaps the easiest character to write. I inspired him by my dad, who has supported me on this journey tremendously. Bran, like my dad loves computers - he is a hacker, instead of a programmer like my dad. But they both have a passion for organic tea and being the good guy. 


5 - What character(s) were the hardest to write? Why?

Detective Winston has been the hardest character to write. I wanted him to appear to be a good guy at the beginning, and I struggled to make him into his evil self. There have been moments where I was debating if he was really that bad - if he should be the bad guy because he was so hard to write.

I wanted him to be complex - I wanted the reader to peel the layers of him as they were turning the pages, which is why the big plot twist comes at the end. Detective Winston, apart from being the villain also portrays the metaphor of forgiveness and whether it is right to forgive people.

From the beginning I wanted people to see the good side of him before the bad, so they can understand him better, and decide if he is worthy of their forgiveness.


6 - Did you have any specific real-life cases or situations in mind while writing the themes for the book?

I think we live in a world of corruption, where it exists everywhere we look. I wanted to tap into the yet unanswered question of whether to forgive and forget or whether to keep people accountable for their actions and further, where does the line of forgiveness end?


7 - Can you tell us about your writing process and how long it took to complete "Unseen Cases of Detective Winston"?

I started writing my book at the beginning of August 2023, and I finished a very bad first draft with around 30 thousand words in a month. After that I let it sit for maybe 6 weeks, and I got into editing.

I added another 28 thousand words and started editing my mistakes. I would say it took 4 months in total, but I rushed through so many things that it would have taken longer if I took my time. It was also the first book that I ever wrote, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

That’s why I started my TikTok account. I post daily content on how I got my book published and what do authors need to have to publish their books. 


8 - Is this a standalone novel, or do you envision a series featuring Detective Winston and Detective Maxine?

I feel like the ending will leave a lot of people angry because it isn’t what I envisioned either, but I feel like it was the best-case scenario for Maxine.

To get rid of Winston forever. I would love to write more of Maxine’s story or Dr. Ashbery’s. I think Maxine has so much more potential and her story definitely isn’t coming to an end. 


9 - Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about "Unseen Cases of Detective Winston" before its release?

Unseen Cases of Detective Winston should serve as a reminder that even people you regard as heroes have a dark side.

That no one is really innocent. In this story, even the brightest minds find themselves lost and corrupted. There is no ‘good guy’ in Unseen Cases of Detective Winston. Every page is filled with lies and secrets. Prepare to be shocked.


10 - Overall, what do you hope writers get from this book?

I hope that my book serves as a reminder that everyone can accomplish their dreams. I hope that fellow writers won’t give up on writing or publishing and that they will support me in the future. 


11 - What's your best advice for getting over writer's block? 

I’m probably not the best person to ask this question. I don’t deal with writer's block often because I write on a schedule so I don’t allow myself to stop writing. I love having Pinterest Boards full of pictures to help me imagine the story’s setting or aesthetic.

Playlists also help me get in the mood or the tone of the story. I suggest watching movies that are similar to your book’s aesthetic or reading books that fit the storyline. 


12 - What's the best book you have read so far this year?

I have re-read some of my favorite books this year, and it’s hard to pick one. I loved The People In the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s one of the best-written books I have read. For non-fiction I favor memoirs, and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi changed my view on my life. 


13 - What's the best advice you have ever received on happiness?

Do whatever makes you happy, because, at the end of the day, it’s you and your mind. Don’t let people dictate what you should and shouldn’t do. Trust fate. It works mysteriously, but it’s always right. 


14 - Do you plan on writing more books in the future?

I have already written one more book, called Portrait of a Sinner. It’s also a dark-academia thriller, set in a boarding school hidden in the cold Alps. I’m currently working on it getting published, and I hope it will come out before summer 2025.


Places To Find More From  Vespasian:

Tiktok - @vespasian.phantom

Instagram - vespasianphantom

linktr.ee - vespasianphantom


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