Recently I had the privilege to sit down with the future Travis Thrasher and ask him some questions about his career. He talked about life as a bestselling author, addressed some rumors, and hinted at what’s to come.
JAW: Mr. Thrasher, it’s great to see you. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down and chat with me.
TT: No problem, James. I still remember the days when I did book tours and nobody showed up at the bookstores. It’s nice to drive cross country and hit twenty stores and meet all my fans.
JAW: You certainly have quite the following these days. I think it’s safe to say that your career really took off when the second book in your Solitary Tales series hit the New York Times Bestseller list. The movie based on the first book in the series is in production now, and book four, which doesn’t release for another three months, is already climbing the bestseller charts. Tell us about the inspiration for this series, and your reaction to the overwhelming response.
TT: That's wild how a book unreleased can climb the bestseller charts, but so much has changed in the world since the Great Oil Leak and man stepping foot on Mars. Yes, things all seemed to come together with The Solitary Tales. It seems I've killed off so many main characters that one has to wonder if Chris himself might be dead. Or undead. The irony is that this bestselling series was the result of a booksigning that I was supposed to take part of, but when I arrived at the bookstore another author happened to be signing (true story). So I went next door to a Mexican restaurant and sat outside in the sun wondering why some things in publishing had to be so difficult. As I ate chips and salsa, the idea for The Solitary Tales came to me. I wrote it in my trusty journal, never realizing what would happen.
JAW: Ah yes, your trusty journal. We'll come back to that in a moment. I hope you bought a jar of that salsa to eat whenever you need inspiration. Now, let's set this controversy to rest: Is Chris dead?
TT: Definitely not dead. But everything changed in book three (as it did in books one and two). So we'll see. And as everybody knows, I have no problem killing off my lead character. Or those around him.
JAW: I still remember how shocked I felt when you killed off Chris's pet ferret at the end of book three. Unbelievable. In regards to the movie, we know that J.J. Abrams is directing, but information on the cast still seems to be under wraps. Any names you can tell us?
TT: I'm sorry to say there will be a high body count for the animals in book four. But of course that was inevitable.
The leads are still being kept under wraps, but the Irishman is going to be played by Nick Nolte. Aunt Helen by Helena Bonham Carter. That's all I can tell you without getting in trouble.
JAW: One of your earlier books, The Second Thief, came out as a movie last year. Were you happy with how Christopher Nolan brought your story to the big screen?
TT: I loved how Nolan took a short story, in a sense, and made it into something completely different. Same story but much deeper. Loved how it served as a nice bookend to Inception. Of course, between the two is that little Batman blockbuster . . .
JAW: Earlier you mentioned your trusty journal. A while back, there was a lot of press about this. As I understand it, your journal with all of your story ideas went missing. It later showed up on Ebay and was going for a hefty price tag, but something happened to the person who was selling it. The press said that Dennis Scott simply went missing and that the police retrieved your journal for you. Other sources have come out and said that there was foul play involved. It's been said that you had something to do with Mr. Scott's disappearance. Can you tell us what really happened?
TT: I guess the only thing I can say about that is this: was there ever really a Dennis Scott in the first place? I stay out of the marketing and promo stuff these days, but it sounds like a pretty good publicity stunt that an author would pull. But you know me—I got off Facebook and Twitter back in 2011. I'd never do anything like that.
JAW: You are hugely successful with a massive following. How is writing different for you now that you are so popular?
TT: Success is a funny thing. I remember when I was stressed out about how many "fans" I had on Facebook. Now I don't even pay attention to any of that. Back in those days, I wondered how long I could keep it up—writing full-time and supporting a family. So not having to worry about that is such a blessing. But there are downsides, of course. I can tell some stories but all I'll say is this: you have to be careful who you trust.
JAW: Before I let you go, take a moment and peek into the future. Where do you want to be in five years? Is there a story you've been dying to tell that you haven't been able to yet? What does the future hold for Travis Thrasher?
TT: I remember that around 2010, I made a pretty big transition in my writing. Most people probably didn't even notice, but it was a big picture thing for me. For the first ten years after I was published, I spent a lot of time experimenting with voice and style and technique. Not just to do this but as a way of figuring out what worked and what didn't work for me. So much of what I wrote was biographical in nature, and featured characters who seemed to avoid going on their mythical journeys.
The books I'm doing now (my W&L series, The Solitary Tales, even the stories under my pseudonym) are more about heroes taking journeys. I'm working more on the STORY than on style. Of course, I still can't help myself at times, but that's where I'm at now.
I've been tinkering around with my Bull Road, which I call my Prince of Tides. One day I hope that will be released. There's also a book about the other side of my family down south, my father's father who served in World War 2. I see those as sweeping, literary novels, dense and hopefully beautiful. By then I'll have gotten all these other stories off my chest.
But by then, who knows what other ideas will come to mind.
JAW: We can’t wait to read them all. Thank you again for your time, and best of luck.
Special thanks to the current Travis Thrasher for setting up this interview with his future self.