Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: TL Travis is award winning, published author of a plethora of LGBTQ+ and contemporary romance and erotic musings that have earned her a “Best-Selling Author” flag in the US as well as Internationally.
In her spare time, when she’s not weaving steamy webs, she enjoys spending time with her family, fishing, wine tasting and people watching. Everyone has a story to tell, half the fun is dreaming up with what it is.
TL is surrounded by her 4-legged rescue family, her sons and adorable grandkids.
She will continue saving furry friends in need for as long as she breathes. Tl would like to remind you to “Adopt, not shop.” Saving that lost soul may very well save yours.
Thanks so much, TL, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
TL Travis: Anne Rice, I would love to pick her brain with a million and one questions. Her vampires are so erotic, moving with the grace of air and with such peace it’s alluring.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
TLT: Eclectic. I’m beyond a pantster I don’t plot whatsoever, I get an idea and when I sit down to write I let the voices take me where they may.
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
TLT: No comment, I’m still waiting for the feds to come a knockin’ 😊
JSC: Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.
No, but I’m getting ready to. I am jonesing to write a Puppy Play book so I’m hoping to attend a few sessions at Leather Church in Vegas beforehand.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
TLT: Social Media. Have. Got. To. Stay. Off. It. When meeting a deadline.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
TLT: I cook, clean, garden. Anything to keep my mind off the book because that’s when the ideas come to me – when I’m least expecting it like when I’m in the shower…
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
TLT: Yes, I actually have 3. One for LGBTQIA+ books, 1 now for my MF as I was directed they won’t and don’t sell under TL, and 1 for my children’s picture books.
JSC: How did you deal with rejection letters?
TLT: I’m 100% self-published now so I don’t have any to contend with.
JSC: How do you approach covers for your indie stories?
TLT: I’m a cover b***h, especially with my rockstars. I like to have the cover first before I write because I use it for inspiration. It drives me crazy when I read a book and none of the characters match the bodies on the cover.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for Shadow’s Light?
I wanted the Social Sinners readers to see a different side to Lucas, needed him to redeem himself. It wasn’t until I was writing book 2 – Derek’s Destiny that bringing Lucas back popped into my head. I knew SS readers were gonna be pissed, but I needed them to understand why I did this. For Shadow, they needed to see why he was so dark and kept to himself. Both characters have traumatic pasts which is why they offset each other so perfectly.
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?
TLT: Funny this is neither of them care about money yet Shadow is a multi-millionaire. They’re about family and finding a sense of self worth in a world so full of anger, hatred, and rage.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
TLT: To tie up all the loose ends for MV but to keep SS and ETF (Embrace the Fear) in the picture. ETF will have 1-2 books released this year. I love how all 3 of my bands are interwoven so the readers favorite characters from each are still around for them to catch a glimpse of.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
TLT: This is my longest self pub yet at 70k. Shadow and Lucas had a lot to say and my day job comes with a ridiculous amount of hours so trying to juggle writing and that was a struggle.
JSC: Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
TLT: SL Perrine did the MV series covers, they’ve actually been done for 2 years now.
JSC: Tell us one thing about them that we don’t learn from the book, the secret in their past.
TLT: Honestly, I use this line in my rockstar books – don’t just a book or a rockstar by their covers because they’re likely not what you see. My rockstars have depth, yeah, sure, they’ve partied and notched their bedposts more times than they can count. But that isn’t what they’re about. They each have a drive and passion that is different from their band brothers.
JSC: What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
TLT: Freaking Stoli. He has a big heart and an attitude and temper to match. The only trouble he gave me came in the form of him opening his mouth at the wrong time and to the wrong people.
JSC: Are you happy with where your writer left you at the end? (don’t give us any spoilers).
TLT: Yes, because as stated above, my rockstars are never out of sight for the readers.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
TLT: A mom.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
TLT: Not until I was a teenager.
JSC: What was the first book that made you cry?
TLT: Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. I’m not a religious person by any means, but as a teenager this book really hit home for me.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
TLT: Woodworking, home remodeling. Been doing a lot of that. Made my dining room table and barn doors that cover my laundry room plus did a wood accent wall in the living room that ties the 3 together.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
TLT: I’ve been in the construction/facility maintenance field for over 20 years. Right now, I’m a Project Analyst for a facilities maintenance company and work anywhere from 50-80 hours a week. One week, I did 92 hours. I was not a happy TL.
JSC: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
TLT: It takes me away from the daily shit of reality land. Like is hard, as it is for many, and I like the escape. Reading before bed settles me down so I can at least get a couple hours of sleep.
JSC: What qualities do you and your characters share? How much are you like them, or how different are they from you?
TLT: Every one of them, of my books, have a piece or a hundred of me in them. Some of what the characters face are things I’ve personally gone through. Jaxson and his ADHD, something I was diagnosed with at the age of 5 only then it was called hyperactivity. Easton and his attempted suicide, something I’m not proud of, but I was battling those demons when he was.
Writing is my therapy. It has helped me get the errant thoughts out of my head. I often picture it as Dumbledore taking his wand and removing memories. Writing has helped me slam the door on my demons. Are they still there, lurking? Abso-f-ing-lutely, but I have the control now – not them.
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
TLT: Not that I’m aware of…
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
TLT: There are so, so, many. Being hyperactive leaves me with a plethora of verbs to choose from.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
TLT: 1000000% Star Wars. Geek and collector, at your service, sir 😉 I saw the original 3 in the theaters when they came out if that gives you any sense of how long I’ve been stalking them. Movies to this day I can watch on repeat.
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
Morning I allow myself 2 cups of coffee then after that it’s water. Weekends, I allow myself a vodka filled treat 😉
JSC: What’s your favorite line from any movie?
TLT: “After all this time?”
JSC: Do you believe in love at first sight?
TLT: My characters do but I’m far too jaded to believe in love. I live vicariously through the worlds I create.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
TLT: I am working on 2 – multi author world series right now. One, will be announced 1/19 and the other 2/14 (though both my books for those worlds are up for preorder on the Zon).
And now for TL’s new book: Shadow’s Light:
Love from the ashes of hate.
For Shadow, life off stage isn’t all glitter and rainbows. He plays the part of the Devil May Care drummer for Maiden Voyage when he’s in the spotlight but outside of it, only a few truly know the man behind the name.
Lucas made a huge mistake when it came to his ex-boyfriend. He’d been forced to make a choice, it was the wrong one, and it cost him everything.
There’s more to the story behind Lucas and Joey’s explosive breakup, Shadow is certain. He knows too much about betrayal and loss, the pain in Lucas’s eyes is something he recognizes in himself.
Bad things happen to good people, Lucas seems to be a prime example of that.
But is Shadow willing to trust Lucas with his heart?
The Maiden Voyage series must be read in order as each book starts where the last one ended but is from another band member’s point of view.
“Mama?” I hollered as I entered her house.
“In the kitchen, mijo,” she called out.
She was sampling whatever she had cooking, and it smelled fantastic. “Needs more salt,” she said, adding a pinch.
“Hey, Ma.” I kissed her cheek and Tony did the same on the other side. She blushed every time he did that. “Ohhhh, is that?”
I reached for the spoon, and she smacked my hand. “Yes, it’s green chili sauce for the chicken enchiladas. Now keep your meaty paws out of it.” She smiled. Nothing in this world made me happier than seeing my mother happy. Through all the shitstorms life had thrown at her, she managed to stay positive. I had no idea how she did it. “Why don’t you boys set the table?”
Tony and I were familiar with this chore, each retrieving what was needed and staging it in place. “I saw Dad the other day,” I told her, taking a seat at the island across from where she was working. Tony took the one beside me.
“I know, he told me.”
“Did he tell you why?” I asked, wondering just how much stayed between father and son.
“Not his story to tell, mijo. Your father would never betray your trust that way, nor would I ask him to.”
“Mama, I think I fucked up.”
“Javier, language!” she scolded.
I swiveled around the room on the stool, noting my sister’s rug rats weren’t here. “There’s no one here but us three.”
“Still,” she said. “Tell me what happened and together we will find a way to fix it.”
My mother and sisters knew I was bi, and I guess my father did too. I was lucky, no one questioned me or treated me any differently because of it. The oven dinged and she pulled the enchiladas out, plating them for us, and smothered mine in green chili sauce just the way I liked it. As we ate, I told her everything that had happened.
“Mijo, do you want anyone to judge you for your past? Weren’t you the one who said everyone deserves a second chance? You got yours, so why shouldn’t Lucas get his? Sounds to me like there’s more to his story than you know.”
Mama was always the voice of reason, insisting on seeing both sides of the coin. I’d probably do well to learn that myself.
“My boy, you don’t love often, but when you do you love hard, fierce.” She accentuated her words with her little balled-up fist in the air.
“I don’t love him, Mama.”
“Yet,” she replied. Tony snickered beside me, and the urge to elbow him was hard to fight off.
Her reply echoed around inside my skull. Could I eventually love Lucas? Did I possess that ability? To love someone who wasn’t a blood relative? I suppose that would depend upon hearing his side of the story, though the fact that I was even mentioning him to not one, but both of my parents should tell me something. And why in the hell had I reached the point of obsession with this?
“I think you know what you need to do, Javi.”
We talked about my sisters and some of the craziness my nieces and nephew got into as we cleaned up the kitchen. I loved seeing my mother so full of life. Staying home and watching Carmen’s kids was a good thing for her. Yolanda, the baby of the family, didn’t have any. Last time I talked to YoYo, she was going back to school to get her master’s degree. Man, how long had it been since I checked in with either of my sisters? Far too long…
“Javier, you do right by that boy. Go to him and when he talks, you listen.” She poked a bony finger in my chest in warning.
“I promise, Mama, I will.”
Tony and I hugged her, and as soon as we were in the car, he asked, “To the club?”
“Yeah, time to eat some crow.”
We went inside, only to have our ears assaulted with some nineties club shit mix blasting through speakers that had seen better days. Lucas’s boss was obviously a cheap bastard who invested no money into his business. The chairs were mismatched, probably some sort of auction finds, the pleather on the seats well-worn and in need of recovering. The tables wobbled, the tops chipped and peeling away. How had I not previously noticed what a dive this place was? I got it was a job for Lucas, hopefully it paid his bills, but what kind of a person ran a place like this? I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the club shut down in the near future, most likely due to out-of-code wiring that sparks a fire.
“Where’s Lucas?” I asked one of the guys, who was pretty fucking young. Was he even old enough to serve alcohol? He shrugged and walked off. Tony and I headed deeper into the maze of bodies, the smell of sweat and cheap cologne filling the stagnant air. We worked our way to the back where I knew their dressing room was. As we approached the hall, some guy came out of the last room on the left.
“I’ll be back in two days, and you better be here,” he said to whoever was inside before slamming the door and pushing his way past us.
“Asshole,” I mumbled.
The slimy fucking greaseball Lucas worked for came out of his office at the same time Lucas emerged from the room that asshole had just exited. I glanced from Lucas to his boss then back to Lucas. His boss immediately retreated into his office. Chickenshit. Something was up and without a doubt, I knew I wasn’t gonna like it. Lucas’s terrified, tear-streaked face stared up, shocked to see me standing right in front of him. He paled, turning white as a sheet, and looked like he was about to fall over.