The author of over twenty works of fiction in a variety of genres, Travis Thrasher has collaborated with musicians, filmmakers, and pastors. His stories all feature broken characters on journeys toward redemption. From the moment I met Travis Thrasher, I could see his enthusiasm for writing and a genuine support for newbie writers.
Tell our readers about your background. Where are you from, and how did you start writing for a living?
My parents were born in Greenville, South Carolina. After they got married, they ended up moving all over the place due to my father’s work (pharmaceutical sales). I lived in Australia, Germany, New York state, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Illinois. I was in third grade in Germany when my teacher encouraged me in my writing. She was also reading The Narnia Chronicles to us during lunchtime. Those two things made me want to become a writer. I’ve had that desire ever since.
You moved around quite a bit as a child. How did exploring new places to call home affect your writing?
If you study my career, you’d see I’m all over the place. But think about it—every school I went to, I was somebody else. I ended up going to four different high schools! Talk about having different personalities. I think this constant change made me curious about people and life. I get bored doing the same thing over and over again. This probably stems from the constant change of my childhood.
Give one piece of advice to a new writer.
Figure out what you want to do with your writing and then never give up trying to make it happen.
You are known for not wanting to be “boxed in” by brand or genre. What is the deciding factor of whether or not to take on a project?
Cash. Just kidding. I have always strived to be like an actor or a director who can take various roles or films in totally different genres. For writers that’s a lot more difficult because readers like to know what they’re getting. I’ve been fortunate to be doing a variety of collaborations lately. That means I can do a love story, or write a drama about an alcoholic baseball player, or tell a memoir.
I have so many ideas but there are a few that I’m dying to write. I continue to strive to tell those stories (like The Solitary Tales) that belong solely to me while also being able to make it as a full-time writer by doing collaborations with people I believe in.
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
My favorite genre to read is probably thrillers, whether they’re legal thrillers or supernatural ones. Honestly, I don’t have a favorite genre to write. I probably had more fun and enjoyment with The Solitary Tales because of all the mysteries inside of them. I love the combo of love and teen angst mixed with supernatural suspense.
How has becoming a father changed your writing? Or, has it?
I see the world in a whole different way. Having our first daughter changed me in many ways, in fact, I dedicated a couple novels to her. But having our twin daughters a couple of years ago totally changed everything. I couldn’t write my pre-fatherhood books in the same way. Life isn’t about me anymore. Some of those early books show characters who don’t get it, who don’t appreciate as much as they should. Having kids really does change everything, as the ad goes. I’m blessed to be a father.
The fourth (and final) book in The Solitary Tales, Hurt, was released January 1st. You weave playlists into each of the books, which I personally love. How much does music influence you during the writing process?
Music fuels my writing. As long as I have music to go to, I never get stuck or feel stymied. We live in a world where music is constantly in the backdrop. It follows us in cars and works out with us and plays on commercials and is heard in shopping malls and airplanes. Music also is a big part of being a teen—it certainly was for me. So yeah—music influences my writing, especially with this teen series.
The Solitary Tales is marketed as YA Fiction, but just like the Twilight series, appeals to many adult readers. Why do you think adults are likely to pick up YA fiction?
I tell people the only reason it’s “YA Fiction” is because of the teen narrator. The themes are deep and the storyline is very real. Again, it comes down to the whole boxed thing. Readers need to know what box this fits in before buying. I saw this series advertised today on a horror blog and on a Christian/inspirational fiction blog. That always amuses me.
While I know teens are enjoying this series, I’ve also received a lot of praise from my grown-up fans. Especially those similar in age to me. I weave a lot of 80’s humor/pop references/vibe in this story.
What is your favorite scene in one of your novels and why?
Normally I love the endings. My novels are all built around the endings. Whether it’s Tom Ledger sitting back in that seat on a plane in The Second Thief or Colin discovering the truth in Sky Blue. Many times my endings have made me tear up, and I always hope they do that for the reader as well.
Tell us about your writing process: how do you write (paper, keyboard, voice recorder)? How do you approach a book (outline, mind-map, just write, begin at the end)? Where do you do your best writing?
I have my assistant, Louis Grimley, write all my books. He works in the crawl space of our basement. Occasionally I go down to check on him… Seriously, I write in an office less than ten minutes from our house. I’ve done that ever since we found out we were having twins (our house is a zoo). I type—I’m a Mac guy but I still write in Word.
I’ve tried all different things in writing a book, but most of the time I do the following: I start with a premise and keep thinking about it. Then I do a story map outlining what will happen. For collaborations, I have to always really flesh these out so the publisher knows exactly what they’re getting. Most of the time I write the book in chronological fashion, but sometimes I write various chapters at different times (it’s a bit more difficult that way because you have to weave them all together). I always know the end but the story always changes during the process.
I keep track of my daily word count. I set goals—daily, weekly, monthly. Anything that helps the process along.
Most writers are also avid readers. What authors did you read as a child? What authors do you read today? Do you have a favorite book or author?
I loved Enid Blyton, The Hardy Boys, The Narnia Chronicles, stuff like that as a boy. I then started reading a lot of adventure/action books like series of pulp novels called Mack Bolan when I was a teen. I soon discovered Stephen King and he became my favorite.
I don’t read the way I should simply because I’m always working. I’m always reading a little bit of everything and anything—popular books, classics, bestsellers. Recent favorite authors that come to mind are Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Nick Hornby, Seth Godin—I could go on and on.
Sometimes I read an author and I think, that’s unfair, I could never do something like that. Then I’ll read a bestseller and think, that’s unfair, I can totally do something better than that. Usually I’m probably wrong on both accounts. That’s why I continue reading a little bit of everything. And why I keep writing.
Upcoming books for Travis Thrasher in 2013 include: the novelization of Home Run (an original movie with director David Boyd (Walking Dead) in 2012.) and Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? co-authored with the band Thompson Square.
Travis and his wife, Sharon, live in a suburb of Chicago and have three daughters.
Connect with Travis