The Feedstore Chronicles. I have my copy but have not read this one yet. I have read his short collection for the Kindle, called Whispers and loved it very much. I’m looking forward to his newest. Without further ado, here’s Travis. (RZ represents Razored Zen and I’m sure you can figure out what TE stands for.)
RZ: Tell us a little about yourself outside of writing. Home town. Family. Job. That sort of thing.
TE: Born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, I’ve never strayed too far from the crib. By day I work for the US Postal Service making certain the machines that sort the mail keep chugging along. Being that it’s nearly Christmas card season let me say glitter is an evil thing. When you mail a glittery card half of the sparkles end up in the bottom of postal machines . Meaning when I open them up to make a repair, I come away looking like a craft store junkie or an overzealous Twilight fan.
RZ: What made you want to write? Is it a desire that’s always been with you? Or was there some particular event or book that ignited the fire?
TE: Reading. I’ve always been an avid reader and for as long as I can remember I’ve had the thought: Hey I could make up characters and stories. But for years I saw publishing as an unobtainable goal for a country boy from Amarillo, Texas. Then I met a local writer, Jodi Thomas, who writes historical romance and mainstream. Seeing the success she’s had gave me the confidence to actively write with publication in mind. Still, it took better than a decade for me to find a publisher for my first book length project.
RZ: Writers always get asked about their influences. Consider this that question.
TE: There are the folks I know. My mentors. Writers like the aforementioned Jodi Thomas and Jennifer Archer and Debbie Upton that have patiently read, critiqued, and offered advice every step of the way. Then there are the authors I love to read and whose style influences me because when I grow up I hope to be just like them. I love Richard Russo for the way he builds communities of characters so real that I begin to think I used to live in the town where it was set. Christopher Moore and Carl Hiasson both taught me nothing is too absurd for the sake of humor, and David Sedaris made me realize poking fun of yourself is sometimes the only answer.
TE: I’m not sure if you mean a bit about working at that feedstore or a bit about writing based on real life, so I’ll tackle both. Working at the feedstore for a man who is still the most morally bankrupt I’ve ever met was, in one word, an adventure. My boss would say or do anything and I was an eager but naive teenage boy in the throes of puberty. After my four year stint I felt a bit like a natural disaster survivor—lucky to be breathing. But these days I look back with nostalgic fondness on those years. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
As far as writing about that time. It was harder than I imagined. For one thing, I didn’t want to vilify the character based on my boss. He was a likeable guy and even though I haven’t seen or spoken to him in years I still consider him a friend. Some of the events, when taken out of context, would paint an ugly picture. So it took some manipulation to turn my experiences into a story that followed the arc I created, as well as retaining a strong element of humor. There were some experiences I wanted to include but I’m not entirely certain the statute of limitation is up so I left them out. Last thing I wanted was my book used as criminal evidence. I’m only half joking.
RZ: Writing can be hard work. What motivates you to keep going? What inspires you?
TE: I’m never satisfied. I suppose that is what keeps me going. I sold my first short story about 2 months into writing. I sold three or four more in the year that followed and then, for about 5 years there, I amassed nothing but rejections. That was hard and I did get discouraged, but back in the day I refereed high school football here in Texas and trust me when I say nothing an agent or editor says to me will ever compare to the criticism I heard back on those Friday nights. My wife and boys inspire me. They believe I can do the impossible so I keep battling along trying to prove them right.
RZ: What are you working on currently? And what’s next for you?
TE: Outside of promoting The Feedstore Chronicles I am working on another humorous food based book, titled Lettuce Is The Devil: The Culinary Dogma of a Devout Meat Man. It’s a tongue in cheek mixture of memoir, comedic essay, and cook book. I also have a trio of novels in various stages. A comedic women’s fiction project about a woman whose life is being ruined by sex, a serious work of literary fiction about a man trying to redeem himself before cancer claims his life, and an erotic western titled Saddle Up and Ride. Actually that last one is bullshit. The one thing I can’t seem to write is a steamy sex scene.
RZ: Besides The Feedstore Chronicles, what other work is available from you right now, and where can readers find it? Is there a place online, such as a blog, where folks could go to learn more about you and your work?
TE: I self-published a small, novella length collection of three stories called Whispers. The stories contained in it are much heavier emotionally than most of my writing, but I felt compelled to share them with the world. Whispers is available for 99 cents on both the Nook and Kindle. I also have a short story titled “Plundered Booty” in the e-anthology Deadly by the Dozen. “Plundered Booty” is perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had writing a story and I’m glad it found a home alongside 11 other great authors.
Charles, thanks for having me. Yours has always been one of my favorite blogs and I can’t wait for the day when I get to meet you in person. Hopefully over a juicy steak and a cold beer.