"The bond between author and reader has always fascinated me. Without the reader's imagination, an author's words are dead in the dark. Only when you open their book do you make them come alive. It's like a spell. And you spread that magic because you talk about the book, post about it, or give it away to someone." - Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex & Echo.
Our next author featured in our series is Travis Baldree. I thought I'd leave it to a writer to explain why I am doing this series of author interviews and I couldn't have said it better than Thomas Olde Heuvelt above.
You can order Legends & Lattes on our website HERE (support indies). I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did. I am always pleasantly surprised by the Lightning Round.
Stephanie Rose: Can you take us through your writing process for Legends & Lattes?
Travis Baldree: I wrote Legends & Lattes during NaNoWriMo '21 - after my day's work narrating, I stayed in my audio booth, and wrote one chapter per day, every day, probably averaging 1800 words a day. My NaNo buddy Aven Shore-Kind and I kept each other on task, and we both finished by the end of November.
After that, I did my own thorough editing pass, and then a formal edit with an author friend of mine who goes by the name Forthright, who has a background in editorial. We edited one chapter a day (with days off for holidays and such), and as we went, I started 'editing ahead' and internalizing some of the language tweaks and cuts we were making. It was a great learning experience! The book didn't change substantively in content (a few minor scenes were added), but everything was tightened overall and it was hugely to the book's benefit.
SR: What character do you most identify with and why?
TB: Viv - It's a book about someone in their 40's discovering that the work they spent their life doing, and the life they thought the wanted, wasn't right for them anymore. Subsequently they switch careers entirely, move to a new city, and start over, and discover a community they never knew existed, but that it turns out they really needed. I'm basically the same person. I spent decades building video games, and then retired from it at 40 to become a full-time audiobook narrator - and there are a lot of parallels throughout. I didn't set out to inject that much of myself into the book, but it clearly happened.
SR: You are an audiobook narrator and narrated Legends & Lattes. How was it to narrate your own book rather than someone else's?
TB: It was the easiest narration ever! I knew all the voices, all the pronunciations, and EXACTLY what the author intended on every line.
SR: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so what kind?
TB: I do - it's just a total mishmash from all genres. I don't have mood specific playlists - just a giant list of things I like, which is really all over the place.
SR: What is the best piece of life advice that you've received?
TB: To be kind.
SR: Can you tell us about the next book in the Legends & Lattes universe? Will there be more after that? Any other projects you're working on?
TB: A standalone prequel has already been written titled 'Bookshops & Bonedust'. It's set 20 years prior when Viv is headstrong and at the beginning of her adventuring career. She gets wounded, and is sidelined by the leader of her outfit in a run-down beach town while she recovers, where she befriends the foul-mouthed owner of a beleaguered bookshop. It's a book about the little things that happen in our lives that change us fundamentally much, much later in ways we don't expect, and about the power of books and stories to connect people across wide gulfs, and also, there are a lot of skeletons in it. I just wrapped up my edits for that, so now, I'm letting my brain turn off for a bit to decide what I'll do next in the new year.
SR: Any recent books, films, shows, or podcasts you want to recommend to our readers?
TB: I think Andor is some of the best TV I have seen in ages. Not just the best Star Wars (I haven't liked most of the recent stuff) - but a series written for grownups that cares about characters instead of fan-service, and I can't say enough nice things about it. I was consistently blown away.
Lightning Round | Altered and Borrowed from James Lipton
SR: What is your favorite word?
TB: Ostensibly - I have no idea why.
SR: What is your least favorite word?
TB: Iichor - because it isn't pronounced the way it ought to be.
Runner-up - Eidolon - for the exact same reason.
SR: What is your favorite movie?
TB: This is impossible! Um. Jaws is kind of a perfect movie.
SR: What is your favorite book?
TB: This is even worse! I don't think I can possibly answer this in any way that will last, so maybe I'll just say The Farseer Trilogy and back away?
SR: What sound or noise do you love?
TB: Ocean surf at night.
SR: What sound or noise do you hate?
TB: The sound of chewing.
SR: What is your favorite curse word?
TB: Fuck is easily the king of all curse words.
SR: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
TB: I wish I had the time to learn to really paint well.
SR: What profession would you not like to do?
TB: I have done enough farm work that I know I never want to do it again.
SR: If you knew you were going to die and only had a chance to read one more book what would it be?
TB: The Hobbit
SR: You plan a movie night and can watch one movie with any one writer. What writer and what movie do you choose?
TB: Neil Gaiman and Heathers
SR: What author dead or alive would you want to spend the day with and in what fictional fantastical place?
TB: Terry Pratchett in Hobbiton.