His book “Sky Blue” released this summer and I contacted Travis to see if I could host him here.
One exciting, non-writing development in his life, was the birth of his daughter Kylie Shea, who will be one in November this year. I’m thrilled for him and Sharon.
Here’s our interview:Hi Travis, I just finished reading “Sky Blue.” You use a creative approach. I haven’t seen this approach before your work. Tell me about that.
I think that every novel I write is handled with a different approach. It’s not that I necessarily try to be different. It’s just that I hate doing the same thing and I hate when authors repeat themselves. I look at ways to try something else “out”. That might be a point of view or time frame or the story itself. Every novel is a chance to do something unique and different. Sky Blue morphed its way into publication, which is one reason I’m so close to the story.
Let’s talk about your history. How long have you been writing? What got you started?
I wanted to be a writer in third grade and I wrote my first novel in ninth grade (it’s still in my closet thankfully!). My third grade teacher encouraged me in my writing and also read from the Narnia Chronicles during lunch. Those two things made me decide that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I still do.
Who are your favorite Christian authors? and what do you like about their work?
I love Francine Rivers. I know it’s cliché to say that (everybody says that). The thing I respect the most about her is that she writes what she wants to (and feels led to) write. She could do Redeeming Love Parts 2-10 but she won’t. She doesn’t stay in one genre.
I feel that Sigmund Brouwer is a very talented writer—he is very good at the craft of writing fiction.
I like Susan Warren because I feel she continues to grow as an author and has such a great future ahead for her.
I’m trying to write a book in every known genre I can. Okay, that’s a slight joke. But next year, I will have an adventure novel (think Raiders of the Lost Ark) published in spring and a horror novel (think Stephen King) published in the fall. There are lots of stories on the horizon. That is why I made the big leap of faith recently to write fulltime. I will also be selling my books at local gas stations, flea markets, and prisons everywhere (okay, another joke).
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
My hope is that I will still be supporting my family with my writing. I always dreamed of writing novels but I also strangely believed that I would one day have a shelf of published books. This isn’t arrogance. I feel there are many other better writers out there. But I’ve known one thing since third grade—I’ve been writing and my goal was always to be published.
My hope is that I will continue to grow and that one of the books I’m fortunate to publish will be the one. The one that defines me and my career.
What is your biggest dream?
I have many big dreams, but in terms of my writing, the biggest was to become a fulltime writer. Now I’m praying that the dream doesn’t become a nightmare! My biggest dream is to write a book that truly has an impact. And when I say impact, I mean impacting people in lots of different ways.
Okay, let’s talk about “Sky Blue.” You have said this book is a bit autobiographical. In what ways? (Also, how much of Colin is you?)
Only those that won’t get me in trouble! Yes, Colin is very much me in a lot of different ways. It was good to make him an agent because they sometimes can be cast as the bad guys in the publishing world. Having worked in the publishing industry over 13 years made me quite cynical about many things, and I hated this. This is Colin’s journey in rediscovering why he loves writing and publishing. The stuff in his marriage is fiction (except their journey in having a child) but so much of his thoughts and feelings about publishing are mine. That’s the beauty of fiction—some of it is deeply personal, and some is entirely made up.
Describe the journey you’ve made in fiction from “The Promise Remains” to “Sky Blue.”
What a journey it’s been! I had written seven dark, ambitious novels that never made it to publication before sitting down to write a simple, heartfelt love story. That story was the first I got published. There are still probably people who feel like it’s their favorite. Fiction is so subjective. I continued on that track with a deeper book (one of my favorites) entitled The Watermark. But even then there were so many stories I wanted to tell.
I’m fortunate that Sky Blue saw light of day. When all is said and done, it might not be my strongest seller or fan favorite, but at least for me right now it’s the most important work I’ve had published. My next book is entirely plot driven and it’s light (when someone is eaten by piranha and the main character is cracking jokes, you definitely have a lighter tale). I’m very fortunate I’m still being allowed to tell these tales.
“Sky Blue” is published by Moody, a long-time Christian publishing house. Your lead character’s realm as an agent was the general market. Tell us about this crossover strategy. Will Christian authors/agents find themselves somewhere in this story?
There was really no strategy here. I feel this—I’m not a Christian novelist. I am a novelist who happens to be a Christian. I’m not striving to write in the box of Christian fiction. I hate boxes. Look at all the genres I’ve done—obviously I fight being put into a box. With Sky Blue, I wanted to write a story that was somewhat of a metaphor for the Christian faith. I wanted to do it and not be blatant. I feel that I did the best job I could in telling that story. Some of my stories are blatant in their faith content. Right or wrong, I try to do what I feel is best for the story.
As for Christian authors/agents finding themselves in this story, no—of course not. I write fiction. 100 percent fiction! :)
As a Christian writer myself, yet with far less experience, I’m curious about the purpose behind a project (i.e. ministerial value and/or theme, etc.). Explain your purpose in penning “Sky Blue.”
Well, I just told you my thoughts about writing fiction/Christian fiction. Sky Blue has a lot of angst in it, and I don’t necessarily feel that angst is a good thing. I struggle with knowing God’s timing. I did when my wife and I were trying to have a child and couldn’t. I’ve struggled being in the publishing world (the Christian publishing world) and being so confused about faith versus business. My struggles and my faults and my failures all come out in my work. Writing is very cathartic.
I’ve heard many writers call their writing a “ministry.” This term has been abused and I can’t rightfully say that my writing is my ministry. I don’t want to dishonor God in my writing. I want people who would never in a million years pick up a Christian novel to read my work and enjoy it. And find themselves thinking, wondering, asking questions.
Finally, tell us about your experience of becoming a father. How has Kylie changed your life? What about your previous understanding of God’s fathering or heart has changed?
Kylie has changed my life in a million different ways. Wow. The term God the father means so much more to me. I’m humbled that God blessed my wife and I. I love Kylie with a love that scares me, that I cannot fathom. And I know it truly pales in the love God has for me. That knowledge humbles and terrifies me too.
Thanks for visiting and sharing “Sky Blue” with us. God bless you and your family.
Thanks for your interest and your time! TRAVIS