Interview With Author Travis M. Riddle

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My name is Travis M. Riddle, and I’m a fantasy author living in Texas. My latest novel is a horror-fantasy titled The Narrows. It follows a group of friends who return to their hometown for a funeral, only to discover grotesque supernatural events that might have connections to their friend’s death. 

What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

All of my books derive from personal experiences, from the topic of divorce in Wondrous to the exploration of anger and grief from losing a loved one in Balam, Spring; The Narrows is certainly no different, and in fact is the closest book to me personally. The core idea of it is about different friendship dynamics, and the struggle of coming to terms with a long, deep friendship ending and how a person comes to terms with that and finds a way to move on. 

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I find I’m hugely inspired by video games when it comes to my writing. I love that it’s such a visual medium that you can explore, really immersing yourself in those worlds. Playing around in a fantasy game always gets the gears turning in my head–usually it starts off as just a fun exercise imagining how I would adapt what I’m playing into a novel, which then turns into jumping off points for different ideas for imagery that I’d like to transform and write about. 

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I think rushing character development for the sake of plot is probably the biggest mistake a writer can make. I believe that you need to take time for readers to get to know your characters, flesh out their history and personalities, set up their conflicts in a believable way, before everything starts to hit the fan. Otherwise, all those big shocking events and emotional moments are going to fall flat because no one actually feels a connection with the characters involved. It’s tricky balancing out the development of characters while still making it feel like the events taking place matter even if they’re seemingly insignificant, but it’s important. 

How has your creation process improved over time?

I used to not be able to outline my novels, because if I did then by the time I started writing I’d get bored and abandon them. So then I tried writing with only a general idea of the story and make it up as I went along, which resulted in me finishing a lot more projects but none were particularly good. I’ve now settled into a happy medium, where I outline the entire book so that I can meticulously plan big events, the pace at which they should happen, and how everything ties into the themes I want to explore, while still leaving enough wiggle room for events to naturally evolve as I’m writing without painting myself into a corner. My upcoming book’s outline was originally 15 chapters long and ended up being 22 chapters by the time I actually finished it. 

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Obviously the goal is for readers to enjoy the story and walk away satisfied, but a big part of my writing comes from exploring themes related to stuff I’m experiencing in my personal life, and so the books end up being cathartic in a way. I personally don’t have any interest in writing a story just to write it, I want there to be some deeper emotional undercurrent running through it. But hopefully that results in something that readers can relate to, connect with, and be entertained by. 

What are your plans for future books?

I’m currently finishing up a new standalone fantasy adventure that takes place in the same world as Balam, Spring, which is set to be released in late 2019. Aside from that, I have a few other ideas kicking around but I’m not yet ready to divulge!

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