June 29, 2011

Interview with Travis Erwin... and a GIVEAWAY!

Recently I had the opportunity to "hang out" in the ether with author Travis Erwin, a native Texan, humor writer, and fervent "meatatarian". He has published an eBook called Whispers (available for both nook and kindle) which is a collection of two short stories and one memoir vignette. A couple of weekends ago I downloaded the book to my iPhone and spent some enjoyable time reading the stories.

Travis graciously agreed to let me interview him on the blog so could you meet him! Everyone needs a writer buddy who likes meat and has a good sense of humor.  AND, the bonus is if you check him out TWO of you have a chance to win his free eBook Whispers.  It's like a two-for-one-bonus.

So, here's the interview. [tap tap.]  Is this thing on?

* * *

Wendy: What inspired you to become a writer?

Travis:  The first answer here is my mother. She urged, actually more insisted, I constantly be engaged in a book from the time I could read. I suppose like most kids I tried to resist but book and literature won me over and I've been addicted ever since. Of course, being a natural born BS'er from Texas that love of reading soon turned to fanciful ideas that I could write a story worth reading.

Wendy:  Can you tell us anything about current projects you're working on?

Travis:  I have two projects actually. A humorous food book title Lettuce Is The Devil which is about 40% humor essay, 40% memoir, and 20% cookbook. The subtitle for that one is The Culinary Dogma of a Devout Meat Man. The whole thing is rather absurd but for the first time in my writing career I have a literary agent to help guide my carrrer and find it a home so I have high hopes in the project. I also have a fiction project, a story about a rancher's wife who is convinced sex is ruining her life. I have yet to hit upon a title I like but this story has lots of humor elements as well a nympho-maniacal senior citizen, a Texas blowhard that makes his living peddling Bull semen and lots of awkward situations for the characters.

Wendy:  What is your writing schedule like?

Travis:  I write like a vampire, in the dark of the night when normal folks are sleeping. I try to get in several hours a night and when things are going great I get up in the wee hours and also write before work, but eventually my body craters and demands sleep so there are 3 or 4 day stretches when I don't actively sit at the computer and write. However, my stories and their characters are never totally gone from my mind. I spend hours a day pondering, thinking, and yes even whispering snatched of dialogue. If I wasn't a writer I'd just be that crazy dude that talks to himself.

Wendy:  When you tackle a book what is your process like? Do you outline? Write back stories? What do you do before you start typing on page 1?

Travis:  I never start out with an outline but when the mud thickens and the slogging gets rough I often write one out and study it for an easier path. I do write back stories. Lots of them as a matter of fact. I consider myself a character writer as people interest me much more than plots. This has made it harder to define my writing and genre and therefore made it harder to sell. I take every character in a book and write 3 to maybe 15 pages of vignettes from their previous life. I try to choose events that have emotion. First kiss, a fearful moment. A fight physical or even verbal. Once I have written these and discover how a character will emotionally react in both good times and bad I feel like I can start the story.

Wendy:  You mention in some commentary that people have made "assertions [that it's] ridiculous for a man to write women's fiction..." What appeals to you about writing women's fiction?

Travis:  Actually I never meant to write women's fiction, but I do find it easier to write from a female POV and I believe love is what makes the world go around so those two overriding things show up in my writing. And like I said I love characters and women's fiction readers seem to have more patience for a slower developing plot that other genres.

Wendy:  What is your inspiration -- what topics or type of topics do you want to write about?

Travis:  I'm pretty certain my muse is French prostitute turned guardian angel because late at night I sometimes catch the scent of perfume in my writing office despite the fact I am the only one there. So I think the overriding theme to all my work is hope. That no matter how bad things get there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Wow, I slipped into cliche mode for that one. I used to write very dark stories but perhaps because my own life is going so well I now find it easier to write humorous lighthearted fare.

Wendy:  What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

Travis:  I'm all over the place here. Richard Russo (Nobody's Fool, The Risk Pool, Empire Falls) and Kent Haruf (Plainsong and Eventide) make me jealous for their ability to build entire towns and communities of fictional character I care about. Christopher Moore makes me laugh out loud at his absurdity. I'm in awe of Erica Orloff's versatility to write both middle children's literature (The Magickeeper Series) and a great and funny romance like Freudian Slip. Besides that, she is as nice a person as the world has to offer. I also love Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and I'm not sure a better novel has ever been written than To Kill A Mockingbird.

Wendy:  Writers put things out there on the page for everyone to see. When a writer specializes in fiction, a reader doesn't know how big the kernel of truth is in that story. However, in your eBook Whispers you wrote a personal tale about the birth of your son and got very open with the events and how you reacted to them. Do you ever feel too naked when you put stuff on the page? Is there a price to pay with family or friends when you use your real life as a base for your writing and how to you resolve this?

Travis:  Blogging opened doors for me. Once upon a time I kept everything personal close to my chest, but writing near daily posts for several years and interacting with so many great people little by little I lowered the walls and now I can write fairly freely about myself. I also wrote a coming of age memoir about myself titled The Feedstore Chronicles. It's a fairly raunchy look at my misguided youth and while unpublished thus far writing it was almost therapeutic. I don't have many secrets at this point but if I've learned anything over the years it is we are all basically the same so while I may be "telling" on myself, I feel confident others can relate and have felt the same at some point.

Wendy:  Why do you hate lettuce so much?

Travis:  Actually I dislike all vegetables. Lettuce just happens to be the leader of the evil green empire. It is the gateway vegetation which leads to the unfortunate condition known as "living a healthy lifestyle." A slice of iceberg on your burger today and you'll find yourself munching on a salad a week later. Then comes the day you realize you are standing at a salad bar with a forkful of baby carrots in one hand and a ladle of ranch in the other.

Wendy:  Favorite food?

Travis:  Smoked elk tenderloin. It melts in your mouth and everything tastes a little better if you went out in the field and harvested it yourself.

Wendy:  And finally, in a smalltown smackdown who would win... Sheriff Andy Taylor or Marshal Matt Dillon?

Travis:  I am a gambler and as such I always consider all the angles. On the surface Matt Dillon is the easy choice as he's definitely more physical and the outlaws around Dodge City were meaner than Ernest T Bass and the Mayberry bunch. But, there's always a but in life isn't there, Andy Taylor brings an x factor to the table -- Barney Fife. Sure he's only got one bullet but Barney is reckless and a bit of a hot head so even if Matt won the fight I think Barney would avenge his sheriff and use that last bullet to take down the Marshall.

Many thanks for letting me stop in. I enjoyed the questions and would love to award two of your readers with a digital copy of my latest e-book Whispers, now available for both nook and kindle.

Given the fact that the book sells for a scant 99 cents winning is not exactly on par with hitting the lottery but hey, a free book is a free book. Comment on this post grants you one entry. Liking my Lettuce is the Devil Facebook page gives you another. Becoming a Lettuce is the Devil follower on twitter yet another. And finally you can earn another for becoming a follower of my regular writing blog One Word, One Rung, One Day.

That's four entries and for any of you dedicated to do all four I'll toss one in for free to give you 5 entries into the contest.

* * *

Thank, Travis!  For anyone who is entering the giveaway, please do one comment PER entry (including the fifth one) so I can just do the random number generator thingy.  We will pick a winner on July 4th so get your entries in before NOON CENTRAL TIME ZONE so the winner can have something besides freedom to party about during the fireworks show! And if you don't win, go buy the book.  It's only 99 cents, so don't be cheap, go get it.


  1. I don't have a kindle or a nook, but I like the sound of this guy's writing!

  2. Thanks Eva. You don't actually need a nook or kindle as you can read ebooks on your PC, MAC, or as Wendy did your smartphone.

  3. I think Andy will pull that one out against Matt. Though I like Matt too. "Whispers" is a great collection. I have a copy so don't put my name in the contest. I hope a lot of folks read it though. It deserves the attention it's getting.

  4. I always like to read different authors and your book sounds interesting....besides, you can't go wrong with someone who hates vegetables as much as I do! :-)

  5. I think I have stumbled upon something delicious here. I now have two whole new avenues to explore -- this blog and the very interesting Mr. Erwin, a fellow Texan.

  6. Sounds like a very interesting chap. Thanks for the interview.


Tell me what's on your mind!