Today I am honored to have my good friend and author J Travis Grundon with me! Travis introduced me to my current Laptop Society aka Crit Group aka Writer's Guild and has also encouraged me to stretch my imagination. He moved away last summer, so we don't get to see each other very often. Thank God for Face Book!
Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.
My name is J. Travis Grundon, my friends call me Travis. I recently served as an editor and contributor on Forrest J Ackerman's Anthology of the Living Dead. I also have my own collection of short fiction, Eclectic Collection due out this Spring. This book features amost of my previously published short stories from Concrete Blood, Twisted Dreams, and more.
Have you ever had an idea for a story which scared you after you began writing it?
It's funny you should ask, because I recently spend 6 hours working on a Lovecraft influenced story that had me very unnerved. I was all alone, with the lights off, and eerie music playing. Soon, I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder, and being startled by the silliest things. I thought the story had a great, creepy feel to it, but as I was near the end of the tale...my computer died, and I was unable to retrieve the story and the idea had left me.
Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?
I try to write from real life. I think life is truly stranger than fiction. Even if I'm working on horror I try to make the characters as real as possible. I tend to draw from the people around me, or make up stories about strangers.
How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?
I research as needed, but It can be a double edge sword. I often get lost in my research.
I am working on a pro-wrestling fiction book, and spend hours watching WWE and TNA, or reading about wrestling in the old days.
I am also very intrigued by the Mothman phenomenon. I have spent countless hours reading and listening to (audio book) John Keel's book. I've watched the movie, so much I know it by heart, and I have devoted more time into Mothman web-searches, than I have to sleep in the last three months.
Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?
I want to give the reader the same experience I look for when I read a book. I want to change the way they look at something.
Even for people who've never read Psycho (or seen the movie), Robert Bloch changed the way we think about taking a shower, just like Stephen King made us change the ways we look at the death of a pet. Then Thomas Harris changed the way we think about fava beans and a nice Chianti. The author of Choke and Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk, even changed the way many of us looked at things like soap, a foot massage, and people we've know our whole life.
In my opinion a great story teller can change the way we think about everything. I want to be one of those authors.
I try to work in in subliminal messages, about my work being as great as Chuck Palahniuk. It would be nice if readers caught that.
(Please, note: I'm probably only joking!)
Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?
Every story I write takes on a life of it's own. 99.9% of the time I don't control what I write. If I need to finish one story, or start something with set guidelines, my mind will produce something on the other side of the fence. This is why I have so many “Work In Progress” files on my computer.
I also talk about my characters like they are real people. I'll hear their voices feeding me dialog, at the strangest moments. I'm sure a lot of people think I'm crazy, but I think you have to be a little crazy to write fiction. An author really needs a certain level of schizophrenia to write convincing dialog.
How long did it take for you to be published?
It didn't take long to get published. It just took the testicular fortitude to walk up to a publisher and an editor and say “Hi, I'm Travis. I'm a write and I was wondering if you were open for fiction submissions at this time.”
The publication I'm talking about wasn't actually open for submission, and they sure as hell didn't publish horror, but they told me that they would take a look at what I had. I agreed that it sounded fair. I send them three stories, and they like two of the three well enough to publish them in back to back issues of their magazine.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?
I would LOVE to go back in time and tell myself not to let it go to my head. Once I had two stories published in a small press magazine, I thought I was the the neatest thing since Oxi Clean.
It can be hard to find the confidence to follow your dream and not cross the line into being an egomaniac, at least it was for me. I sadly burned a lot of bridges, hurt a lot of friendships and stifled my own career. A sea of rejection letters and failed projects brought me back to earth. Some of the past damage can't be fixed, but I would like to think I have my head and heart in the right place now.
Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?
Coffee and music are a must. I have said more than once that the more caffeine I have in my system the faster my mind works and I can write for hours.
Music drives me. I love so much music that I have a multiple playlists for every story or project I'm working on. I'm particularly fond of jazz and movie score music when I write.
I like to write on my laptop, so I don't have to write the same thing twice, but I do A LOT of hand writing. I carry a notebook around with me everywhere, and I constantly have ideas written all over my hand and little scraps of paper.
I've also discovered that if I write something on paper, when I go to type it later, I may have a better idea or way to express what I was thinking.
Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?
Despite my lack of free time, I love to read. I read everything from novels and short story collections to comics (graphic novels) and several magazine.
My favorite writers and authors include Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Love Craft, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Robert B. Parker, Robert Bloch, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Earnest Hemingway, Chuck Palahniuk, Etgar Kerret, Steph Chbosky, Bret Easton Ellis, Amy Hemple and Nick Hornby, just to name a few.
I also really enjoy comic scribes Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Garth Ennis (Punisher) and Daniel Way (Deadpool).
Film has also influenced me much like books and comics have. Movies like Snatch, The Big Labowsky and Taxi Driver are great stories, and they have all of the qualities of a great books, interesting characters, witty dialog, and a rich plot line.
Some of these ideas, wouldn't transfer to book well, but others are incredible and I think if Guy Richie or the Coen Bros., made books instead of movies they'd be just as successful.
This is the style I love the most. These authors and writers are where my real influence comes from, outside of real life.
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
If there is any crazy secret...it would be that I'm a sucker for a romantic comedy and I LOVE movies that make me cry. I think a few of my “shocking” favorite movies include Definitely, Maybe, Sweet November, French Kiss and Legends of the Fall.
Are there any Easter scenes in your books?
None, that I can remember, but I think I may need to write one!
What is your favorite Easter memory?
I don't know if it's my favorite, but I remember one Easter, when I ate three boxes of Peeps and I got really sick. I haven't been able to eat them since, and I haven't wanted to.
Do you garden, or do you have a black thumb like me?
I'd like to think I have normal thumbs. I love nature and organic foods, but I don't like dealing with hoes and spreading my seeds!
Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.
Thanks for having me and please look for Concrete Blood on Amazon and Forrest J Ackerman's Anthology of the Living Dead everywhere fine books are sold.
Also watch for Eclectic Collection by J. Travis Grundon, available everywhere, Spring of 2010!!!