Author Interview with Travis Heermann

December, my how fast this year has come and gone. I’ve had a great time doing interviews over the course of 2012, and have a wonderful selection of writers to interrogate interview in 2013. I hope you all will come and meet these wonderful writers.

Today’s interview is with Travis Heermann. Like myself he writes scripts and novels. He was one of the first to reply when I sent out the word I was looking for new authors to interview.

So let’s begin…


pubphotocasual1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?

I’m originally from a tiny town in Nebraska, but I’m living now in the Denver area. I write all kinds of things from fiction to poetry and essays, plus commercial copywriting that helps pay the bills. As far as fiction genre, the only two I have not touched thus far are romance and mystery. I have a historical fantasy novel, Heart of the Ronin, a gritty adventure fantasy novel, Rogues of the Black Fury, a horror novella, Snakes, and short stories across several genres, including western.

2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

A career in writing is what I have wanted since I was about thirteen, when I sat down with my mom’s old Smith-Corona typewriter and wrote my first novel. People who go into writing because they think they’ll get rich are quickly disabused of that notion. There are hundreds of careers that pay better, with significantly less emotional torture. Writers do it because they have to.

3. Can you tell us about your latest project?

Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on my horror-western novel, which is an adaptation of a screenplay I wrote with my friend Jim Pinto. The screenplay won first place at the CINEQUEST Film Festival in San Jose last March, so I started pitching the story to various publishers. It got a lot of positive response, so I figured it was time to novelize the story.

4. What was your biggest influence for writing your story?

This one had so many influences that I don’t think it’s possible to identify just one. I call it “Lovecraft and Romero dance with wolves.” Throw in some spaghetti westerns, Ennio Morricone, and Native American mythology and you’re in the ballpark.

5. It’s interesting that you write screenplays. Was this a one-time thing or do you plan on doing others?

I’ve written three screenplays at this point, one sci-fi, one romantic comedy, and one western-horror, all of which were collaborative projects. Two of them are probably trunk stories, but there are things that I love about all of them. I will certainly write more screenplays in the future because I love the form and I love movies. I may even make my own film at some point.

6. Did you find it difficult collaborating with another writer?

At times it is difficult, but I wouldn’t call it more difficult than the creative process when flying solo; it is just a different type of difficult. Solo, you get/have to experience all those creative highs and lows, frustrating blocks and little triumphs, by yourself. When working with a collaborator, you have someone to bounce ideas off of, which often results in even cooler ideas or moments of assistance to overcome the block. The difficult for collaborative artists comes in recognizing the relative strengths and weaknesses compared to your collaborator. It takes a different kind of guts, because you have to be able to tell the other person when what  they’re doing isn’t working, and you have to relinquish your own ego enough to receive that kind of feedback. You have to be more open to “killing your babies” than when working alone, but sometimes the other person is right. You also have to be prepared to go to bat for what you know is working, what feels right and true to your own creative instincts.

When you succeed, you get to share that success with someone who is just as involved and invested as you are. And you also have to share royalty checks. 😉

Both approaches have their own difficulties and rewards.

7. For you, what is the best thing about writing?

There is a lot to love about it, but first and foremost is creating something from nothing, and having that something resonate with me. I try to write the kind of stories that I would want to read. When I read something I have written but haven’t looked at for a long time, it’s great pleasure when I find stuff in there that I really enjoy. For example, when I was going through the page proofs of The Wild Boys recently, there were a number of times I found myself laughing out loud at my amusement with the protagonist, and occasionally enjoying a few well-done passages that somehow found their way into the book. On the other hand, I occasionally spot things that make me think, “Well, I could have done that better.” And then I’ll have the urge to fiddle with it. But I have to take and step back and let it go, or else be lost in this perfectionistic spiral in which no book can ever be truly let go.

8. Have you ever thought about giving up? If you did, what changed your mind?

I think about giving up at least once a week. I often feel–and I presume other writers also feel this way–that I am shouting into an empty black abyss, spewing stories and heart into nothingness, with no guarantee that anyone is listening, or interested, or (because I’m a professional and I do this full time) is remotely willing to pay me for what I’m doing. This applies to readers, editors, agents, et al. The truth is that people who want to be writers are a dime a hundred, and therein lies the explosion of self-publishing. There is often no glimmer of indication that I am being heard above the chaff, that anyone is listening (or buying my work) except a couple of Google crawler-bots and Russian spammers.

When writers are sitting around the table at conventions slamming tequila shots and bitching about the success of 50 Shades of Gray, we try to console ourselves that quality will ultimately win out. But when glimmers of quality are lost in a deluge of sludge and still have to compete with umpteen other choices for readers’ eyeball-time, it can get pretty depressing.

I keep doing it because I have no other choice. It’s who I am.

9. Most writers have manuscripts that will never see the light of day. Do you have a few of those, or will they eventually come out? 

I have a few of those I wrote in high school that will remain stuck in a box somewhere. They were valuable for learning how to write and they were fun at the time, but I could compare them to the crayon drawings of a six-year-old. We can admire the kid’s creativity but no one publishes those old crayon drawings.
10. What advice would you give to a new author?

That depends on what you mean by “new.” Writers at all different stages have different sets of problems and problems never go away.  The unpublished writer is yearning for that first publication, that first outside validation that’s not your mom or significant other. The just-published first novelist knows the exuberance of seeing his or her work in print for the first time … quickly discovers that the world–bookstores, readers, media outlets, etc.–doesn’t care about this great triumph.
At every stage, the artist is confronted with the great question: “Now what?”
And the answer to that question is always: “Write something else.”


Five for fun

1. If you could be any breed of dog, what would it be?

2. Is there one food/beverage that you can’t live without?

3. Bungee jumping: exhilarating hobby or death wish?

Exhilarating hobby.
4. What is your favourite movie?

5. Question from Sithboy; If you were a Jedi, what colour would your lightsabre be; green, blue, yellow, red, or purple?

Purple. [The second person to choose purple! ~Darke]




Where to find Travis online

Twitter: @TravisHeermann


TheWildBoys_200x300_dpi72Where to purchase The Wild Boys online.



About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

One Response to Author Interview with Travis Heermann

  1. Pingback: Authors, authors everywhere!! « Darke Conteur

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