DePoy, Phillip 1950-

views updated

DePoy, Phillip 1950-

PERSONAL:

Born 1950; married Heather Heath (an actress; divorced). Education: Georgia State University, B.A., 1971, M.A., 1978.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Atlanta, GA. Office—Clayton State University, A&S-G130, 2000 Clayton State Blvd., Morrow, GA 30260. Agent—Maria Carvainis, Maria Carvainis Agency, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Georgia Council for the Arts, artist in residence, 1980-1990; Academy Theatre, composer in residence, 1982-88; Theatrical Outfit, Atlanta, GA, artistic director, 1991-95; Townsend Center for the Performing Arts, director, 1995-98; University of West Georgia, Carrollton, head of theater department, 1997—; Clayton State University, Morrow, GA, theater director. Metropolitan Theatre Alliance, Atlanta, playwright in residence; visiting and guest instructor and artist at various colleges and universities; served on boards of directors, including the Atlanta Theatre Coalition.

Director or musical director of plays, including (musical director and performer) Strider, 1985; (musical director) Animal Farm, 1987; (director) Gospel of Mary, 1989; (musical director) Three Postcards, 1989; (musical director) Tartuffe, 1991; (director) Amahl and the Night Visitors, 1992; (musical director) Diamond Studs, 1994; (director) Children of Jazz, 1994; (director) The Telephone, 1994; (director) The Toy Shop, 1997; (director) Appalachian Strings, 1998; (director) Little Red Riding Hood, 1998; (director) Déjà Vu, 1999; (director) The Complete History of America, Abridged, 2000; (director) Side by Side by Sondheim, 2000; (director) Fair and Tender Ladies, 2002; (musical director) The Bench, 2002; and (director) Keep on the Sunny Side, 2004.

MEMBER:

Mystery Writers of America, Poets and Writers.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Edgar Award, for Easy, 2002; four Suzi Bass awards, for Turned Funny; various grants, including from the National Endowment of the Arts, Georgia Council for the Arts, Fulton County Arts Council.

WRITINGS:

"FLAP TUCKER" MYSTERY SERIES

Easy, Dell (New York, NY), 1997.

Too Easy, Dell (New York, NY), 1998.

Easy as 1, 2, 3, Dell (New York, NY), 1999.

Dancing Made Easy, Mystery Guild, 1999

Dead Easy, Dell (New York, NY), 2000.

"FEVER DEVILIN" MYSTERY SERIES

The Devil's Hearth, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.

The Witch's Grave, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.

A Minister's Ghost, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.

A Widow's Curse, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.

FOR THE STAGE

(And composer and director) Ariel and Caliban, produced in GA, 1980.

(And performer) Messages from Beyond, produced in GA, 1980.

(Composer and musical director) Decameron, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1985.

(Composer, musical director, and performer) Christmas Carol, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1985.

(Composer and musical director) Scarecrow, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1986.

(Composer, musical director, and performer) Mandragola, performed in Atlanta, GA, 1987.

(Composer and musical director) Headlines, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1987.

(Composer and musical director) Canterbury Tales, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1988.

(Composer, musical director, and performer) Hamlet, the Musical, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1988.

(And performer) Messages from Dead Women, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1988.

(And director) Red Labyrinth, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1989.

(Cowriter, composer, musical director, and performer) Saving Grace, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1989.

(And musical director) Phantom of the Opry, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1989.

(Composer) On the Verge, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1989.

(Composer and musical director) The Reach of Song (official state drama of Georgia), produced in GA, 1989.

(Composer and musical director) Levi Lee and Larry Larson, Iggy Scrooge (produced in Charleston, SC, 1990), Samuel French (New York, NY).

(Composer and musical director) Playboy of the Western World, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1991.

(And director) Lamb on Fire, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1991.

(Composer) Ulysses, produced in GA, 1991.

(Composer) The Seagull, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1991.

(And composer and musical director) Angels (produced in Atlanta, GA, 1992), Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1995

(Composer) Merlin, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1992.

(And director) Appalachian Christmas, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1993.

(Composer) A Man for All Seasons, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1993.

(Composer) The Snow Queen, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1993.

(Coadapter, composer and director) The Merchant of Venus, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1993.

(Composer and director) Beowulf, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1993.

(Composer and musical director) Vampyr, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1994.

(Composer) Dancing at Lughnasa, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1994.

(Composer) Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1994.

(Creator, composer) The Scarlet Letter, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1995.

(Composer) Angels in America: Perestroika, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1995.

Appalachian Christmas Homecoming, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1996.

(With William Fred Scott; and adaptor, director, and arranger) The Beggar's Opera: A New Performing Version (produced in Atlanta, GA, 1996), Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1996.

Toward the End, produced in Carrollton, GA, 1996.

(And director) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, tour, 1998.

Cotton-Eyed Joe, produced in Sanford, NC, 1998.

Pathelin, produced in Brunswick, GA, 1999.

Buckhead, produced in Atlanta, GA, 2001.

Easy, produced in Atlanta, GA, 2001.

(With others) Preacher from the Black Lagoon, produced in Atlanta, GA, 2001.

(With others) Urban Fairytale, produced in Atlanta, GA, 2002.

Turned Funny, produced in Atlanta, GA, 2005.

Christmas at Sweet Apple, produced in Atlanta, GA, 2007.

Author of Messages from Beyond, an essay and photograph collection; contributor to periodicals, including Story, Southern Poetry Review, Xanadu, and Yankee.

SIDELIGHTS:

Phillip DePoy is well known in the Georgia theater world as an actor, director, and playwright, but to the rest of the country he has garnered attention as the author of two series of mystery novels, featuring detectives Flap Tucker and Fever Devilin. The novels in the former series are all set in Atlanta and frequently make use of Atlanta landmarks known only to the city's longtime residents, such as the Majestic Diner. This was an intentional choice, DePoy told Creative Loafing Atlanta Web site interviewer Curt Holman. "Mysteries give the cities they take place in an almost mythological feel," he explained. "But though lots of them have been set in cities like Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans, there aren't as many about the Southeast." DePoy's second murder mystery series, featuring folklorist-turned-sleuth Fever Devilin, is also set in Georgia, this time in the Appalachians near Black Rock Mountain. The first book in this series, The Devil's Hearth, "combines a good mystery with a generous helping of history and legend," concluded a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Fever was raised in rural Georgia, moved to cities where he taught college, traveled the world, then returned to his roots looking for a simpler life after the university for which he was working shut down the Department of Folklore. In The Witch's Grave, he has reconnected with his former sweetheart, Lucinda, but while she is away, he has a house guest, British Shakespearean scholar Winton Andrews. Harding Pinehurst III, the area mortician, is found dead near Fever's cabin, and he and Winton join Deputy Sheriff Skidmore Needle in the search for the killer. Meanwhile, Truevine Deveroe and her boyfriend, county coroner Able Carton, who were seen having a quarrel, are missing and under suspicion. Truvy, as she is called, claims to be a witch and practices healing with plants. She lives with her three brothers, who now suspect that Able may have killed her, and they catch and try to hang him. Truvy had hoped to marry Harding's brother Rud, but he married a wealthy girl and went to work for her father. Mysteriously, he seemed to age very rapidly after that. The story takes on new dimensions with the discovery of more than three hundred bodies, and Fever calls on his knowledge of folklore in helping solve the crimes.

A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the story is enhanced by "sharp characterization, a broad humorous streak and sumptuous descriptions of country cooking." A Kirkus Reviews critic wrote: "Literately loony, with excurses on pan-fried corn, tombstone epitaphs, the Roman origin of bobbing for apples."

In reviewing this mystery on the Who Dunnit Web site, Alan Paul Curtis wrote: "Mr. DePoy excels in many disciplines, theatre and music being among them. But if he continues to write this well he may find himself best known for his murder mysteries, and his name spoken in the same breath along with the most famous and well-read authors of this genre."

Lucinda's two nieces are killed when their car is hit by a train at a Pine City railroad crossing in A Minister's Ghost. Lucinda insists that it was something other than an accident, as it appears that the victims remained in the car wearing seat belts and did not attempt to escape. There were witnesses, including Skidmore, who was there with his assistant Melissa, which has stirred up rumors, and Orvid Newcomb, an albino dwarf who could be a drug dealer.

Booklist reviewer Barbara Bibel commented that DePoy "excels at providing local color and creating complex characters." "By far DePoy's best," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "with top-notch plotting, full-blown characters (even that albino dwarf) and a bit of Shakespeare thrown in."

A Kirkus Reviews contributor described A Widow's Curse: "An intricately nuanced transgenerational saga rendered with the panache of a master southern storyteller." Fever is contacted by Carl Schultz, who wants him to help identify a silver medallion his father had acquired from a mountain woman twenty years earlier. Fever invites Carl to leave Atlanta and visit. Carl does so, and upon arriving learns from Fever that the medallion depicts St. Elian at the well in Wales. There seems to be a connection to two other items purchased at the same time, a portrait of a nineteenth-century landscape artist and what seems to be a Cherokee artifact connected to the Trail of Tears, the relocation of the tribe from Georgia to Oklahoma. Carl is killed at the cabin, and the story is made all the more interesting by the fact that the Fever's family history and a curse are directly related to the mystery and that Fever himself is the suspect in the murder of his visitor.

"DePoy has a comfortable command of his characters, their land and their history," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Booklist contributor Sue O'Brien wrote that among the elements that add depth to this story is "the idea of shared stories defining our sense of the past."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Back Stage, November 22, 1991, Victor Gluck, review of Lamb on Fire, p. 40.

Booklist, January 1, 2004, Sue O'Brien, review of The Witch's Grave, p. 830; November 1, 2005, Barbara Bibel, review of A Minister's Ghost, p. 25; June 1, 2007, Sue O'Brien, review of A Widow's Curse, p. 48.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of The Witch's Grave, p. 1425; November 1, 2005, review of A Minister's Ghost, p. 1163; June 1, 2007, review of A Widow's Curse.

Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Rex Klett, review of The Witch's Grave, p. 129.

Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Dancing Made Easy, p. 78; December 2, 2002, review of The Devil's Hearth, p. 37; December 22, 2003, review of The Witch's Grave, p. 40; October 17, 2005, review of A Minister's Ghost, p. 43; April 30, 2007, review of A Widow's Curse, p. 142.

ONLINE

Access Atlanta,http://www.accessatlanta.com/ (November 11, 2007), Wendell Brock, "A Devilish Devotee of Storytelling," interview.

Creative Loafing Atlanta,http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/ (July 4, 2001), Curt Holman, "Against the Current: Playwright Phillip DePoy Surfs the Wave of New Theaters," interview.

Phillip DePoy Home Page,http://www.phillipdepoy.com (December 17, 2007).

Who Dunnit,http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (December 18, 2007), Alan Paul Curtis, review of The Witch's Grave.