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TR: Good morning, Travis, and thanks for coming.
TL: Morning, Thomas. Thank you for the invite.
TR: So, let’s get this party started. How old were you when you wrote your first piece?
TL: I was 37.
TR: What was it, and in what genre?
TR: So The Nightlife is your first book…good for you! What made you write it?
TL: At a very early age I developed a love of all things strange and macabre: horror-fantasy-sci/fi books and films. I became an avid reader of Steven King, Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, and many many more authors. I read everything I could get my hands on in these authors, they couldn’t publish enough material to keep me going. It was many years later, while reading an urban fantasy novel, that inspiration struck.
I thought to myself, why aren’t there novels that have this, that, and the other thing? Why can’t I find novels with a particular/peculiar blending of genres and elements? Maybe I should write those novels.
Once the idea hit, it sunk in deep to the core, to a place where I could not remove it without ripping out an integral part of my soul. I became convinced-obsessed with the idea that I could write novels that I myself would wish to read. Perhaps that’s a strange idea, perhaps it’s even foolish, but regardless, I started writing. I haven’t stopped since.
If it were up to me, if my wife and children and life did not throw me an intervention throughout the day and night, I would write 16+ hours per day. Like that catchy little ditty from the Rolling Stones, “If you start me up, if you start me up I never stop.”
TR: I’ve read some other cross-genre works. It’s a great idea. What have you written since then?
TL: I have a Young Adult Paranormal Suspense novel of about 80,000 words that will be published by the end of October, and two-three more novels in the Nightlife Series that will finish editing and rewrites by the end of this year–hopefully.
TR: Sounds like you’re going to be a busy boy. What was the inspiration for your current book?
TL: I wanted to combine several elements of horror/romance/urban-fantasy vampire novels to create a unique blend that is distinctly my own. I have spent some volunteer time helping addicts, so I also found my writing moving into areas of addiction. The Nightlife Series delves into some of the negative effects of drug addiction. It’s loaded with all the gritty “nightlife” components you could ever want: escorts, strippers, pimps, nightclubs, and prostitution.
In a way, I am able to live very vicariously through these dark romantic fantasy novels. My characters get to do all the things that propriety dictates I should not do. It’s my way of creating my own personal escape into a dark, decadent, dangerous place.
TR: I get you. Escape is one of the many benefits of being able to create a world, isn’t it? So, tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.
TL: “The Nightlife New York” is currently available 100% FREE at both Amazon: www.amazon.com/The-Nightlife-York-Series-ebook/dp/B0090P1MIU/ and Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/217404
Vampires, strippers, escorts, night clubs, gangs, pimps and corrupt cops, the Nightlife of New York is never boring.
Is she a beautiful blond guardian angel as he imagined, or something else entirely? When Michelle saves Aaron‘s life she shares the benefits of her blood––after getting him shot accidentally. He awakes a changed man, living in a purgatory of eternal night, never to see the sunrise again.
Michelle drags him through a hardcore learning curve of vampiric slavery. Forced to adapt to servitude, he is subject to her authority of compulsion. She orders him around like a puppet on a string, a dog on a very short leash. First things first, he must learn to feed properly without creating bloodslaves––humans addicted to the powerful drug-like effect of their venomous bite.
And then she puts him to work–a male escort in the sex trade–same as Michelle. Aaron walks a tightrope of strictly controlled feeding regiments and intensely erotic sexual adventures while catering to the neurotic control-freak tendencies of his new master. It’s do or die, Michelle vows to eliminate him if he proves too difficult to control. Amidst all these shocking and degrading adjustments, Aaron finds he’s falling in love.
Can he maintain her rules and keep a sliver of his humanity intact? Innocence is a luxury few can afford in the decadent nightlife of New York. In a world where sex, blood, and power over women is so readily accessible, Aaron struggles against the predatory instincts deeply rooted in his new psyche. He must find his way quickly, practicing rigid self-control, or risk the consequences of Michelle’s wrath.
TR: Sounds fantastic. In fact, I’ve already picked the book up from Amazon, and can’t wait to read it. Is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?
TL: Anything anywhere can spark an idea. Movies, novels, music, real-life experiences. It all gets weaved together as the muse takes on a life of its own, driving me to write. There are numerous scenarios in my novels that I have personally witnessed or experienced or read about. Now every time I watch a fantasy-horror-sci-fi-paranormal film or TV series, I automatically go into creative mode. My mind sparks off ideas left and right. At the same time I evaluate the plots, dialogue and characters of whatever I’m watching. It kinda changes the whole experience of just watching a movie for entertainment.
Macabre flights of fancy in film are research and development material for my writing.
TR: What made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?
TL: As soon as I heard of the platforms for Independent publishing of eBooks via Amazon KDP and Smashwords, I knew I would never bother to wait for a traditional Agent/Publisher deal to come along. From that moment forward I focused on writing and publishing. I never bothered to waste my time and energy on query letters and useless emails to dozens of inundated Agents/Publishers. They need me about as much as I need them.
I’m now such a control freak over every word that goes into a novel, every detail of editing and the cover art, I can’t imagine how I’d ever be able to accommodate a publisher and Agent telling me what to do. I truly enjoy my freedom. I write in any genre I please–Young Adult–Paranormal Romance–Urban Fantasy–Science Fiction.
I have done some editing for an author who is publishing a sci-fi erotic novel through an Agent/Publisher relationship. It boggles my mind how much control she gives them over her manuscript. I couldn’t do it.
TR: I know. It’s a tough situation, letting someone else play with your baby. If you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?
TL: Well, each element of the platform serves a specific purpose, your blog, website, and the various social media outlets for connecting with people. For me, twitter is the most important thing going for connecting with potential readers, creating future fans of my Nightlife Series. I spend way way too much time on twitter. But I am also making new connections daily, expanding my readership and fanbase. I equate it to an investment of time. That’s what I keep telling my wife 😉
I’m doing the same thing as you on twitter. Hard to find that balance, isn’t it? What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
I think that right out the gate it’s vital to have two key components, especially as an Indie publisher with nothing backing you. You must have a good-looking cover that fits your genre, and you must have a well edited, entertaining and engaging read.
If you’re missing one of those two components, the platform and promotions and all that will be in vain. Unknown authors are judged by their covers and the chapter or two of preview that’s available through Amazon. You better look good and have a novel that grabs the reader, pulls them in and doesn’t let go.
I did not use an editor when I published my first edition of “The Nightlife New York”, didn’t have one. I have since made enough connections and relationships in online social media and communities to acquire a good editor, and I wish I had done so prior to publishing. My second edition is uploaded and fully edited, but there’s about 1500 downloads floating around out there of my earlier unedited version.
TR: So what’s coming up from you?
TL: I have the next three Nightlife Series novels written, and I’m working on rewrites and edits now. I have a near future dark utopia Sci-fi novel set in 2064 that I need to rewrite. I have ideas plotted out for four more Nightlife Series novels, and another Young Adult novel focused on some very strange unintended consequences of identity theft.
I also have a novel series planned that involves the modern day practice of Wicca, Voodoo, and Candomblé. The first novel of the series is written but needs rewritten and edited. It’s basically a battle of good vs. evil using the modern practice of witchcraft, and will involve many supernatural elements.
In a nutshell: I have the next two years of writing-editing-publishing already planned out.
TR: Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck to you, Travis.
TL: Thanks, Thomas. And thank you so very much for extending your offer of an interview. Is Indie authors need all the exposure we can get to combat obscurity.
There you go, folks. A man with a definite plan. Below are some other goodies about “The Nightlife” series, and contact info for Travis. You can pick up your copy of the first installment of “Nightlife” today. Go get one!
Tuesday, my interview will be with my good pal D.G. (Dawn Torrens). Be there!
The Nightlife Series:
I The Nightlife: New York
II The Nightlife: Las Vegas November 2012
III The Nightlife: Paris December 2012
The Nightlife: BLOODSLAVE December 2012
IV The Nightlife: London May 2013
V The Nightlife: Moscow July 2013
Young Adult novels by Travis Luedke (TW Luedke)
T Shepherd October 2012
BOGUS April 2013