Interview with Travis Belrose

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Thunder Bay, a small city in Northern Ontario. Thunder Bay is carved out of the Canadian Shield and offers stunning views of the Sleeping Giant from a number of vantage points. This closeness to nature helped me learn the value of paying attention to small details in the natural world. The city is relatively isolated from larger population centres, which certainly has an impact on one's psyche growing up. It definitely influenced me to get out and explore the world and expand my horizons before writing.
When did you first start writing?
I still remember short stories I wrote when I was in Grade 2. In my high school yearbook I said one of my ambitions was to write a novel. A friend on the editorial staff changed it to "best seller." I complained to her at the time, but now I think I would like nothing more!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The story from Grade 2 I mentioned was a pourquoi tale about how humans got their legs. Hint: there was a four-legged ostrich involved.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Shisendo is officially listed as a temple, but it was originally built by Ishikawa Jozan as his home in the 1600s. The first time I visited it, the place didn't speak to me--the builder did! I honestly felt like his personality was imbued in the house and garden. Upon returning to Canada, I felt impelled to write a novel about his life.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My writing occupies a niche somewhere between popular and literary fiction. I think there is an underserved audience hungry for books that are intelligent without being esoteric. As an indie author, I have complete creative control from start to finish. It's more time consuming to do every part of the process individually, but it is also more satisfying in the end.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is giving me a one stop option to distribute to the widest range of ebook retailers possible. They also provided clear guidelines to ensure my book met industry standards.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Word of mouth, reviews, random web surfing. I used to prefer printed books, but now I find myself looking for ebook editions whenever possible. I recently skipped a novel from a major publisher because it wasn't available as an ebook. If a book is really special to me though, I'll want it on my wooden shelf one day.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are a handful of authors that made such a deep impression upon me that I had to read everything they wrote. The ones that come to mind now are T. S. Eliot, John Fowles, Richard Hugo, Yasunari Kawabata, and Haruki Murakami. For popular fiction, I really enjoy Lian Hearn's Otori series.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I am writing in such a state of intense concentration that I become unaware of my surroundings, I experience something that no other activity provides me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I need to stay active to use up all my physical energy before writing. I enjoy doing projects in the house and working in the yard and garden. Hiking keeps me in touch with nature even though I live in a more urban area than the one I grew up in.
What is your writing process?
Whether I feel like it or not, I sit down in a quiet room and write. I forget the name of the author who said this, but a week later when you see your work, you won't be able to tell if you felt like writing or not that day. He's right. It was the best advice I ever received. I have some rituals I use to get me started, but I don't need them every time. At the end of the day, it's just about sitting down to write. By the time you surface for air, there's another 1000 words ready for editing and revision.
Published 2013-09-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Samurai Poet
Price: $3.99 $2.99 USD. (25% off until Dec. 31!) Words: 126,780. Language: Canadian English. Published: October 11, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General, Fiction » Biographical
(3.00 from 1 review)
Ishikawa Jozan wanted nothing more than to be a samurai like his father and grandfather. When an act of overzealousness costs him his position, he tries to serve his lord as a Confucian scholar. Once Ishikawa becomes entangled in political intrigues beyond his control, he discovers that the life of a hermitic literati can be just as dangerous as that of a warrior.