Travis Peck is a fellow Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off author; our books are being read by the same reviewer/blogger. I thought it’d be fun to reach out and shine some light on Travis, his writing, and his book, RAVINOR, which you can find on Amazon. (Read about the SPFBO here.)
So, first we need to exchange the secret History major handshake. Did you have a specific area of study?
Shh! Don’t give them any hints! We will exchange the rest of the ritualized greeting via our Enigma machines…
My thesis focused on medieval Japan, but I really find most time periods and world regions to be very interesting: Ancient Rome, the Golden Horde, Tsarist Russia, the World Wars, to name a few of my favorites.
How would you say your background in History has influenced you as a writer?
I think majoring in History, and having always been interested in it growing up, has certainly influenced my writing. Not that it has made me a better writer, but I think it helps with the mindset required to weave a complete story together. History, to me, is sociology, psychology, economics, humanities, and politics all rolled up into one Super Subject, and I think that knowledge is invaluable to people who are trying to tell a believable story.
The potential negative side to my History background is my ingrained urge to pepper the story with the much-maligned “info dumps.” I do believe I’ve eliminated these in my book, but it definitely was something I had to consciously focus on, lest my need to explain in great detail suck the life out of the story–but hopefully NOT this interview. 🙂
Do you have a favorite historical figure or time period?
Minamoto Yoritomo and Peter the Great are probably my two favorite historical figures. My favorite time period would be anything medieval from mostly Europe and Asia, I would say. I’ve always wanted to travel throughout Europe taking these sites in, but as yet, and now with a three-year-old son, haven’t had the chance.
I have your book but haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. Describe RAVINOR to me in three words.
Damn you! 🙂 This one was the hardest for me to answer. I had a hell of a time just writing the blurb for the book!
Dear Readers: Please note that Travis has slyly managed not to answer this question. Despite multiple attempts on my part to extract this information, he remains steadfast in the face of my
threats pleasant entreaties.
You have a group of characters guiding your story. Which character was it most difficult to find a voice for and why?
Moira was the most challenging character for me to bring to life, but I think that challenge made her one of my favorites. She is a young woman with a scarred face (since birth) who is the daughter and heir to one of the richest men in the empire.
I attempted to make her a strong female character who readers would relate to, and one that wasn’t the typical beautiful heroine. Yet, I also sought to strike a balance between her ostracism growing up with her “flawed” appearance with that of her undeniably privileged upbringing.
I understand that RAVINOR is the first in a series. How’s the next book coming? How many books do you envision for the series? Do you have a sense of where the whole thing is going? An outline?
The 2nd book in a series, at least for me, is much more difficult to write. In part the difficulty is that book one is finished. Done. Set in stone for all eternity. There is no going back to tweak details here and there. You get the idea. And since you’ve actually managed to write your 2nd book in a series, I’m sure you can relate, but you’ve obviously managed to push through these things better than I. Another difficulty I’ve had in writing the sequel is from the lack of feedback about the first one. As you know, it takes a lot of time to write a book and edit it (and re-write, and edit again, and re-write again, and edit one more time, then again…and again) so it is a huge undertaking to commit to when you don’t really know how the first book is being received. This uncertainty has definitely hindered my progress. Admittedly, the SPFBO has given me another excuse to delay writing the sequel because I will at least get some feedback from a respected blogger–even if it is in the form of a mini-review. Aaaand there’s an info-dump for you. The short answer: Yes, I’ve outlined the next book, and the remainder of the intended trilogy, and have been thinking about it frequently, but I will probably wait until my mini-group is done before buckling down on writing it. Phew, still with me? That was a bit…long-winded.
Now that you’ve published your first book, are there any older, unfinished projects you would return to?
Ravinor was the first book I’ve finished, but I do have a few stories in the drawer. But most of those should STAY in the drawer, far from the light of day. There is one that I will likely re-visit, in fact, this was what I was working on when inspiration hit for Ravinor. A bit of a detour ensued…
As a side note (Thanks for stifling your groan) I’ve found that working on one book ALL the time is a good way to burn yourself out. That happened to me with Ravinor to the point where I delayed even thinking about the next one. My advice to past Travis would be to write one book while editing another, ideally in a different series, to keep things fresh.
Do you have any ridiculous writing habits?
My most ridiculous writing habit? Probably my tendency to close my eyes in an attempt to “see” a scene I’m working on only to find I’ve inadvertently fallen asleep. Which sounds like a bad thing, but I swear when I wake up a few minutes later the scene has solidified–unfortunately it hasn’t typed itself out, but we take what we can get.
Have you checked out your competition in the SPFBO?
I am definitely intimidated by what I’ve seen so far, your own book being a prime example–at least the cover and book description, as I haven’t had time to read it yet 😉 –of how far self-published books have come. Before entering the contest, I was somewhat naive, I think, about what to expect. My first, likely unrealistic, goal was to win, of course, but now having seen what I’m up against, just in the first round? I’ll just be happy to get a semi-positive review, much less win my mini-group! But the fact that there does seem to be such a high-level of quality in this competition will hopefully serve to increase the confidence of readers who would otherwise not consider a self-published book. No matter the result for me personally, I think this contest is good for ALL of us, and I hope to see it continue for many years to come.
Another aside: I came late to the SPFBO last year, so I missed most of the competition but have added a few from the top-10 to my increasingly unwieldy to-be-read pile. For this year’s contest, I plan on reading the winners of each mini-group that our blogger (Bookworm Blues) selects. Then from there, I intend to add each of the ten that makes the final round.
What books have stayed with you in that deep down unforgettable kind of way?
So many books have stuck with me that I would need about a month to answer, and still it would be insufficient time to do them all justice. To name a few though: The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence…yes, I know he is the organizer of the SPFBO, but my being a fan of his is what led me to discover this contest in the first place. The Malazan series by Steven Erikson, WoT by Robert Jordan, and ASOIAF by GRRM. And many, many others. I had to buy a kindle years ago because I ran out of places to put my books. My bookshelf is triple-stacked with books, and I had to screw it to the wall so it didn’t topple over!
Thanks for the questions. I seldom get to talk shop to any adult (that Stay-at-home Dad gig again), much less a fellow SPFBO author and secret-handshaking-history buff, so it was my pleasure.
Thanks, Travis! Good luck with the SPFBO and with RAVINOR’s sequel!