Morgen: Hello, Travis. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Travis: Hello Morgen! I have been experimenting with short stories and poetry since I was a young adolescent in the suburbs of Chelsea, Victoria in Australia. While trying to find out what I was good at in the real world, I had always favoured writing and never thought I would finally make the logical steps to study it full time as I did at the start of this year. So a lot of the writing I’m doing now feels constricted as I’m learning what the pro’s have to say and applying that to my limited knowledge of the structuring, editing and formation of ideas and stories.
Morgen: Do take some notice but we all have different things to say so, if I may be so bold, if you’re feeling constricted, it’s not actually a good thing. The most recommended book here is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ so I’d add that to your list. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Travis: Being an avid reader of Crime Fiction throughout my twenties, the influence is in my writing when I look back at some of the stories I’ve written thus far. Although my reading habits have changed within the past few years, I’m finding my writing is continually expanding into different areas.
Morgen: Ah, excellent… not so constricted. 🙂 What have you had published to-date?
Travis: Nothing as yet.
Morgen: “Yet”, although your short story ‘Sacrament’ has appeared on my blog which does count. 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Travis: A lot of homework!
Morgen: And hopefully a lot of writing (300 words a day is 100,000 a year). Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Travis: Not lately. Being on holidays has been an interruption on my writing I’m finding.
Morgen: Isn’t it just. I’ve been at three writer’s conferences / literary festivals over the past five weeks and am way behind with everything. Someone needs to invent a machine that winds time back… ah yes, HG Wells did, didn’t he. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Travis: I tend to sit and write. Ideas may come through the process and I work with that.
Morgen: Most authors I’ve spoken to have said that they’re ‘pantsers’, and I’m the same. I plotted my first novel and it went off on its own so I learned to do very little sketching (almost none for the third one and it ended up being 117,540 words!). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Travis: I really enjoy coming up with character names and then the rest comes when I give them a scenario or a companion to share their space with. The identity of the character doesn’t form until I take time away from them. I don’t really ask myself if the character is believable or not when I’m writing, even after, but that’s what I’m learning through study.
Morgen: I’m sure if it didn’t feel real to you you’d struggle with the writing process, they do tend to take on a ‘life’. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Travis: At this stage of my writing, the editing is a time thing. I will sit back after I’ve written a short and leave it for a while, go back to it, and then see what can be done to improve it.
Morgen: That’s the best way; if you ever get stuck with something leaving it and returning later will usually mean you see it with ‘fresh eyes’ because you’re brain has moved on to something else in the mean time. Do you have to do much research?
Travis: If I get stuck, yes. I am in the process of organising a research department for myself.
Morgen: Wow. 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Travis: I’ve being trying my hand at third person lately to break up my habit of first person. There’s only so many I’s I’m willing to write in a story.
Morgen: Perhaps look at the way the sentence is structured; you may find you can lose many of the ‘I’s because the reader knows the story is about you, or turn the sentence round. It’s always tempting to start the sentence with the character, perhaps have something like ‘As the car came towards me’ … and / or have a crack at second person ‘you’. 🙂 Do you write any poetry or non-fiction?
Travis: I do write poetry on the odd occasion. I still enjoy that side of writing to break apart from short stories. My descriptive methods need more work!
Morgen: I write very little poetry so I’m right there with you. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Travis: There are a few ideas that have lasted in the memory bank that I think will see the time of day. I like to think that if an idea stays in my mind over a period of time, it may have a use after all.
Morgen: Hopefully you’ll have a use for everything, especially as you write more. I have 100+ old (5-6 years) stories that I’m hoping I’m now wiser to see where I went ‘wrong’ and do something with. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Travis: I haven’t put anything out to be rejected yet but I’m sure it will be a welcome addition to my study walls. How I deal with it will depend on how strongly I feel for the story.
Morgen: But do remember it’s only one person’s opinion and is usually just the right thing for the wrong person. I do like to think they make a writer stronger. Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Travis: At this stage in my writing I am yet to find a story or idea I’m willing to sacrifice to enter into competitions.
Morgen: I used to enter more than I do now (not difficult, I haven’t entered any for a while) but I found with themed competitions get me writing something new and if it doesn’t get anywhere I still have that new story. My writing group’s competition (the H.E. Bates) has a theme for the first time; ‘A walk at midnight’. 🙂 Do you have an agent?
Travis: No. I will know when I’m ready!
Morgen: 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Travis: My favourite aspect is the initial excitement I get from creating, the self-satisfaction I obtain through self development and dedication to an idea. My least favourite aspect is when that excitement withers and leaves me feeling empty and useless, making me question my abilities.
Morgen: That’s really sad, although most writers have self-doubt. Hopefully when you start having some successes (I’ve published your short story). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Travis: Study the art. Even if you think you know all there is to know, there will always be something inspiring that you can take on board to further develop your storytelling.
Morgen: I’ve been studying for seven years and I’m still learning. When I go to live events the established (some of many years) still they’re still learning – surgeons do so why can’t we? 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Travis: James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Michael Connelly. I would cook a steak dinner with mash and vegetables. Plenty of wine and beer also.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Travis: ‘I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.’ James Joyce
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Travis: Homework, Australian Rules football, drinking with friends, thinking about writing.
Morgen: In reverse order? I’m always thinking about writing. 🙂 Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Travis: Stephen King on Writing.
Morgen: Ah yes, the most recommended book here and I recommended it to you earlier so you were one step ahead. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Travis: Twitter and Facebook. I think they are valuable when you use them correctly.
Morgen: If you don’t let them take over too much time. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Travis: A positive, creative and successful future.
Morgen: I agree. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Travis: I’d like to thank you for supporting me and giving me a chance to make a contribution to your segment.
Morgen: You’re so welcome. I’m grateful to everyone who takes part, my blog wouldn’t be as stuffed as it is without you all. 🙂 Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Travis: How do you maintain order as you would receive so many emails and stories? Where do you find the time to go through it all?
Morgen: By giving up my day job and not doing much else. I don’t charge for anything so I have to find ways of making money, that’s the tricky bit, although I have two lodgers which helps. 🙂 As for maintaining order, I have a wonderful Word table matrix with everyone listed (dates, names, genres, blog slots – in differing colours), I’d be lost without it although keeping the timetables on each blog page helps enormously then I know we’re singing off the same clichéd hymn sheet. 🙂 Thank you, Travis.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.