Monday, March 3, 2014

Q&A with Author Travis Perry

I had the wonderful opportunity to do a little interview with one of the collaborating authors of "Colony Zero," Travis Perry. Enjoy!

1. How does "Colony Zero" differ from anything else you've done?
I've never done a collaborative writing project in which all of the authors were focused on just one character in a mix that our publisher came up with. We all write multiple characters of course in Colony Zero, but having a primary focus on just one is different for me. I've worked on projects in which authors were free to make up whatever character they wished as long as they were in the story universe. Naturally people came up with their own characters under those circumstances--but that wasn't the same as picking one from a cast already conceived of by someone else. That's unique.
2. What attracted you to "Colony Zero"?
Giovanni Gelati of Helping Hands Press contacted me about helping with a specific writing project, in part based on my military background. He mentioned the picking a character out of a cast for that series, which interested me. He also mentioned almost in passing that he had an idea for a science fiction setting for the same kind of story. I told him I'd definitely be interested in that, too, since while I write many things, I consider myself primarily a science fiction writer. So you could say I'm looking for interesting work on contract in my preferred genre. :)
It also appealed to me that this series of stories is based on tales of short story length. I've written a novel and have worked on other novel-length works, but I'm a slow writer, so short story size lets me get out more story ideas in a shorter time.
3. Tell me a little about your journey as a writer.
I find this kinda hard to answer. The longest part of my journey was simply figuring out writing was something I could do. As I kid I enjoyed making up stories in my mind and creating big sloppy drawings. But writing assignments I found painful for the most part. I mostly hated all writing assignments in school and dreaded English class--though I enjoyed every book they assigned us to read. It wasn't until writing history papers in college I became fully convinced that I could write well. But I still disliked how much work it takes me to write. It wasn't until around ten years or so after college, in my 30s, that I seriously had the idea that I should combine the writing ability I had discovered with the imagination that had never gone away and write fiction. But it seemed to me that I fiddled around forever with just a few basic story ideas that weren't going anywhere. It's been since 2011, since I got published for the first time, that I've launched myself into more and more writing projects of differing types and have started to gain confidence that, "Yeah, I'm good at this." In the past 12 months alone my number of published works has gone from four to twelve, though four of those were self-published and a number of others have been short stories or based on short stories. Still, I feel as if I'm tangibly moving forward. It's very encouraging.
4. Where do you look to when you're hungry for inspiration?
I think I still struggle most with the act of writing instead of having inspiration, which I usually find easy. I may have a cathedral designed in my mind so to speak, but the laying each single brick down to construct it seems so constraining to me, plodding one word after word. Ugh. But I like seeing the finished work very much. 
Though it does happen sometimes that I get short of inspiration. Usually I pray about it, step away for a few minutes, and whatever I was missing just comes to me. Though on certain occasions I've been stuck longer without inspiration. That happened especially on my first novel, The Crystal Portal. I was stuck on the story for about two years actually. But once I realized I was making a mistake in not thinking enough about what my villain was doing, coming up with new ideas became relatively easy again (thank you, God).
5. Is there a character in the stories YOU have written that you most relate to? Why or why not?
I relate to a number of my characters in various ways but my character Zachariah from The Crystal Portal is mainly based on me drawing forth a lot of my own memories of how I felt at nine years old. Especially how curious I was about everything. So in a way, Zachariah is me. (Though unlike Zachariah, I was not someone who knew Jesus personally from the pre-ministry period as a carpenter in Nazareth...ahem...)
6. This is not your first collaborative project, as I understand. Are the experiences of coordinating with different authors for different series similar or various?
Yeah, it's been all different. Even in this project, coordinating with each of my fellow writers has been different from the rest. I hardly hear from Mark Carver at all, for example, but Mark Venturini is pretty open with questions and comments. Just to name two.
In spite of my deserved reputation as being an idea guy, I enjoy human beings (I'm no Sheldon Cooper). The interaction bit is part of the enjoyment of collaborative writing for me. It's nice to get to know so many new people, including you, Grace.
7. What branch of the military are you in? How has that effected your writing career?
I'm an Army Reserve officer. I was formerly enlisted and have had a wide variety of military positions and specialties (Cardiac technician, Army medic in both a National Guard MP company and a Reserve hospital unit, Medical equipment repair specialist, Generator repair specialist; Maintenance and Transportation positions as a new officer, in training positions as a Field Artillery officer, in military humanitarian project management as Civil Affairs (CA) officer, used foreign language and cultural skills as well in CA as a French and Spanish speaker; attended Army airborne training and French desert survival training). Each military experience gives me new situations I can draw on to talk about in stories. That's affected my writing, as has the fact that during downtimes on military duty I have found writing a good way to pass the time. It's probably the only time that writing isn't less fun than, say, watching TV.
8. Preferred caffeinated beverage?
Tea, Earl Grey, hot. ;) 
In spite of the throwaway Jean-Luc Piccard reference, I really do like tea. But I suppose I'm a caffeine omnivore, who tends to consume whatever happens to be available. :)
9. Favorite TV show or movie (if you have one)?
Star Trek had a huge influence in drawing me into science fiction. Among the individual Star Trek series and movies, I'm one of the minority who believes Deep Space Nine in the final analysis was the best thing Star Trek ever did.
My favorite movie shows my interest in science and space. No movie has been more enjoyable to me than Apollo 13 (though there are many, many, many close second runner-ups).
10. If you could talk to any fictional character, who would it be?
Wow. That's a really tough question. Some of the most interesting characters aren't particularly talkative. But I think I'd enjoy most having a philosophical discussion of knighthood and whatever else he wanted to talk about with Reepicheep of Narnia fame...
Wonderful talking with you, Travis.
And here is the link to Travis's blog, which I highly recommend visiting:

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