Interview: Travis M. Riddle
A couple of weeks ago I hosted the cover reveal for Travis M. Riddle’s second novel, Balam, Spring, and I’m excited to welcome the author himself to the blog to answer a few questions for us.
Hi, Travis! First of all, can you tell us a little bit about what made you want to become a writer in the first place?
I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling. There’s something so satisfying to me when you see a character develop, or little nuggets of a story starting to come together and create something coherent and amazing. I love examining the structure of how stories are put together, whether it’s in a book, a movie, a game, or whatever else. Getting narrative pieces to fit together is a fun puzzle that is always such a thrill. It’s a great feeling when you start to get those pieces to fit together and you begin to suspect you’re creating something special.
How did the idea for Balam, Spring come to you?
Well I went into it wanting to write a specific kind of narrative, but to say what that is would spoil the story, haha.
In addition to that, I wanted to write a fantasy novel that was unlike a lot of the fantasy I’d been seeing lately and what someone would generally think of when they hear ‘fantasy’, Meaning I didn’t want something grand and epic, I wanted it to be a small-scale, personal story about a handful of individuals, so containing the entire narrative to one single town was a natural fit that also allowed me to really delve into the backstories of these characters and the town itself.
And finally, as I got deeper into writing the story, which is about an unknown illness gripping this town called Balam, I started to think about it in relation to my stepmother’s battle with cancer, and so that played heavily into the broader themes of the story and the emotional arcs of some of the characters.
If it won’t spoil the story, are you able to tell us a little bit about your favourite character in Balam, Spring?
That would have to be Ryckert. He’s a rocyan, which in this world are basically hulking half-human half-dog people. By the time the novel starts he’s retired from being a mercenary and has moved away to Balam after certain sour events in his past and isolated himself from the rest of the town. Once the sickness starts to spread, though, his curious nature gets the best of him and he feels an irresistible urge to solve this mystery. The friendship he develops throughout the course of the novel with Aava is probably my favorite thing I’ve written, with their drastically different personalities and outlooks that are united by their desire to help others.
Wondrous, has a child protagonist and appeals to a younger readership, while Balam, Spring is an adult fantasy novel. Did you decide to challenge yourself to write something for a different audience before beginning the novel, or did it happen naturally?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision to change audiences. Wondrous actually wasn’t written specifically for a younger audience either (and my goal was to gear it toward all ages, so older readers should get something out of it too) I just had a story I wanted to tell, and telling it through the eyes of a young boy was the best way to get those ideas across. So for Balam, Spring it was just a matter of what worked best for the story I wanted to tell, which was something with much darker and more adult themes than what Wondrous tackled.
Have you got an idea of what you’re going to write next?
I’ve got a few ideas formulating, but nothing too concrete or fleshed out yet. I’d like to possibly explore a new genre or subgenre of fantasy, perhaps something horror-related, but we’ll see!
About the author:
Travis M. Riddle lives with his pooch in Austin, TX, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. His work has been published in award-winning literary journal the Sorin Oak Review.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Travis, for allowing me to interview him and for giving such great answers to my questions. You can find Travis on Twitter, read more about Balam, Spring on Goodreads or get hold of a copy here.
(Disclaimer: If you purchase Balam, Spring using my Amazon Affiliate link, I’ll receive a few pennies in commission at no extra cost to you!)
I’m hoping to get my review of Balam, Spring up by the end of the month, so make sure to come back later to see what I thought!