Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Interview with Travis Hightower, author of Prime Time Spies and Bastion of Terra

...and we're back!  This is our second interview in a series where we speak to authors, agents, and publishers in the field who might be able to give a bit of insight to those of us just starting out. I recently started writing my own novel and the advice that I've been receiving from people who have already been published multiple times over has been extremely helpful. Alas, I have no new teases from my own manuscript as I wrote nothing yesterday.  Bad form, Tom.

 Yesterday, we met Troy H. Gardner and Erin Callahan of the Mad World series and received some seriously valuable insight.  Today, I'd like to introduce you to Travis Hightower, author of Prime Time Spies and Bastion of Terra.

-You are the author of Prime Time Spies and Bastion of Terra. Was becoming a published author always in the cards?
TRAVIS: I find that cards are limited in their ability to predict the future. They are only a tool. The best gambler can win with any hand, and a true fortune teller barely needs them, if at all. Publishing my books on Amazon was part of a process, a single step in a relentless journey to have my stories told to the world. I believe in time the right agent and or publisher will fall in love with my work, and my characters will be a household name soon after. I believe this happens by following one simple rule - never stop writing.

-At what moment in your life did you realize that getting a book published was something that you would want to do?
TRAVIS: I realized I had the talent as an undergraduate in college, where I found my words could motivate and make true positive change happen. However, it was around the time of the birth of my first daughter (who is now ten) that I realized fairy tales and stories had the power to inspire, teach, and influence the course of history. I chose to start writing to become part of that change.

-What is it like to have so many people reading and spending time with something that you have worked so long and hard on?
TRAVIS: I wouldn't rank my number of readers as "many" just yet, but I will say that even one person reading my story and saying, "Wow that was great!" makes all the hours worth it. It means someone else saw what was in my imagination and shared that vision - at that point, my characters aren't just figments of what was in my head. They are now alive.

-When a new writer has a finished MS and decides it's time to try and get it published, what advice can you give them?
TRAVIS: What exactly is a "finished" manuscript? The concept makes me chuckle because it seems like I am forever tinkering. And now to answer the question: My advice is to be vigilant with it - make it painstakingly perfect, and query, query, query. Finding a literary agent who shares your vision and is passionate about your story is paramount. Be prepared for rejection, and lots of it. Self publish if you just can't wait, but beware of the "template agency" or publisher.  Their aim is to make money off the author, not the books themselves.

-What are some mistakes that you made as a first time writer?
TRAVIS: Using a template agency. I spent thousands publishing and marketing a book that truly was not ready yet, and now I can't totally get rid of that stain. Learn to show when you are telling. I was a tell happy first time author, meaning I got bogged down in technical details that could have been covered in a more entertaining and efficient way.

-How difficult is it to write something new, that hasn't already been done and played out over and over again?
TRAVIS: I am a firm believer in the literary principle that states there are only seven fictional stories. Coming up with something "new" requires voice and imagination, but you have to realize nothing is really new at the core of the story. It comes easy for me because I never worry about the word "cliche" ... I embrace it, and then add that little twist you'd never expect ... Like how awesome piña colada mix tastes in original flavored fresca. (Try it you'll like it)
People tell me all the time "Oh Bastion of Terra is just like Independence Day!" ... But is it? By chapter 3 they realize something far more unique and interesting is taking place.

-Was there an author and/or book that you read growing up that made you say, "I want to try and do that,"?
TRAVIS: I'm a big Star Wars nut, and I always wanted to have my own sci fi epic that was in actuality a big fairy tale. I am also heavily influenced by old school Japanese Anime, and in recent years Naruto, in particular.  But I'm not there yet. I ended up starting with what I knew best - The tactical world of the US Air Force, and I moved on to attempting an espionage story with a huge reality versus fantasy motif. But I have plans. I always have plans.

-What audience are your novels geared toward?
TRAVIS: My science fiction epic, Bastion of Terra, is aimed at probably around ages thirteen and up. Prime Time Spies is adult commercial fiction, and has some rather strong language. My next book,  String Theory will be for young adults, but I feel it will be something all ages can enjoy.

-Who would win in a tag-team match-up of Charles Dickens & Batman VS. Edgar Allan Poe & Aquaman?
TRAVIS: Holy dead poet’s society Batman! Dickens is at a clear advantage with Batman on his team, but not because Batman would kick Aquaman’s butt. Dickens is going to understand Batman and work well with him because he gets orphans and he gets the class struggle Batman faces being a rich boy who fights for the poor and oppressed. Now, Poe of course is going to understand his enemy, but understanding how to work as a team with Aquaman. Nope. Raven of the Teen Titans would be a much more interesting fight. Aquaman is in the wrong setting in this bunch, so don't carry any Great Expectations for him. Quoth the Raven, "What a bore."

-Favorite bad 90's action flick?
TRAVIS: Jurassic Park. I think. It’s hard to choose. I suppose to choose a “good” movie is my first instinct. But there were a lot of bad movies that were terrible but fun.

-If you could meet any President of the U.S. (living or dead) who would it be (and please don't say Calvin Coolidge)?
TRAVIS: Probably Lincoln. He seemed so far ahead of his time. Plus, I think he was a vampire hunter or something. And that is awesome.

-Anything else you want us to know about your books?  Why should we go out and buy them?
TRAVIS: The stories I weave are full of strong female characters, intense action, and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the end. In particular I rarely reveal the true intentions of the villain, or even who the main antagonist is until near the end. Since I am a big champion of the reality vs. fantasy motif, I love to keep the reader guessing as to what is real and what is fiction for the characters. Run over to Amazon now and buy my ebooks for the amazing five dollar price if you want to be wowed and kept guessing. Plus, all proceeds of the first royalty will be donated toward free long distance travel for veterans.

Brief teasers from Prime Time Spies and Bastion of Terra and where you can pick them up:
Prime Time Spies
CIA agent Victoria Kingsley is assigned to become a contestant on Spy Games, America’s number one new TV show, on which eight men and eight women compete in fantasy spy missions for a million dollars. When her routine mission to discover the plan for a military grade weapons deal turns deadly, the would-be reality TV stars have no idea just how dangerous their fifteen minutes of fame will become. This season the villains are real, and they won’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in their way. The mission becomes personal as Victoria discovers the man responsible for the death of her former lover is conducting business with the network. Yet her cover is mysteriously blown while the show is being recorded in Las Vegas, and her superiors set into motion a plan to remove her from the operation and abort the mission. She is faced with a choice: Obey orders and risk losing her chance at justice or find a way to remain on the show and endanger anyone who comes into contact with her. Even if she can somehow avoid the plan to have her voted off the show, she will have to win a rigged game in order to complete her mission and prevent the most guarded weapons secrets of the United States from falling into the wrong hands.  The fantasy of the game becomes reality as her only chance of success may be to trust in a few starry-eyed amateur prime time spies.
Bastion of Terra
The world is torn out from under Air Force fighter pilot Duke Devron when, during a training mission, an interstellar war between two alien races descends upon the earth. Forced to eject from his fighter jet as city after city is swallowed whole by weapons of terrifying power, he is called upon by a desperate alien defender and entrusted with the task of completing its mission to activate ancient defenses long hidden on the earth. Duke is not willing to take this sojourn at first, as his priority is to rescue his wife and young child from the alien onslaught. When he discovers his family has been pulled into oblivion, he has nothing left to live for except vengeance. His death wish is interrupted when an emissary of one of the five Elder Races of the galaxy makes contact and convinces him that he is the only one who can save his world. He will have to cross half the devastated landscape of the United States on horseback with an alien general tight on his heels to succeed. Along the way, he learns that an ancient race of dark beings from a dimension of chaos are the true orchestrators of a war that has consumed the galaxy, and that the real threat is not to humanity alone but to all peace-loving life in the Milky Way. Duke must learn to let go of all he fears to lose, including his wingman, surviving friends, a new love, and even the tiniest of hopes that his family is still alive in order to save the bastion known as Earth.
Also Travis at my website at
Twitter- @Highspeed0516
Thanks, Travis!!! More to come soon as I figure out how to get this book written and harass yet another unsuspecting author.
***oh yeah! and find ME on Twitter: @RimerTom
I'll put all my blog posts and interviews there.  Know another author and/or agent that would be a good interview for this series?  Drop me a line!!!***

No comments:

Post a Comment