Phillip Gardner was born in rural eastern North Carolina, the second of four. As a child he was surrounded by music and stories. His mother was one of ten children, his father one of six, and they could all sing. At every family gathering they told stories and sang songs. On his mother’s side it was Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages and Just a Closer Walk with Thee. On his father’s it was Your Cheating Heart, Let Me Go, Lover; and Walkin’ the Floor Over You. The inevitable collision of the sacred and the profane occurred for Phillip in 1962. He was ten years old. On a steamy summer night he sat quietly with some older boys smoking a Salem cigarette and sipping Richard’s Wild Irish Rose and waiting his turn for the centerfold when the needle on the console stereo slowly came to rest upon a spinning black vinyl disk. Suddenly a full frontal assault blasted from the speakers: Jerry Lee Lewis Live!
And his life was changed forever. The stories stuck with him and the music lived in him. They remain in him. Music has been his hobby and short fiction his love. While many of his stories are set in a fictional Darlington, South Carolina and circulate around The Paradise Lounge—Jerry Lee country—he resists the Grit-Lit-regional-writer label. His stories cross social classes, genders and genres, and range from the ridiculous and funny to the poignant and sublime.
Phillip Gardner is the author of five short story collections, Someone To Crawl Back To, Somebody Wants Somebody Dead, Available Light, The Future Never Lasts and Where They Come From, Where They Hide. He is a Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Open and three-time South Carolina Fiction Project winner. His stories have appeared in the North American Review, New Delta Review, LIT, Interim, The Chattahoochee Review among others, and anthologized in Inheritance: Selections from The South Carolina Fiction Project (Hub City Writers Project) and A Shared Voice, edited by Andrew Geyer and Tom Mack (Lamar University Press). His work has been adapted to film and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Gardner is professor emeritus at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, where he taught for thirty years. He lives with his lovely wife Tressa in Darlington.