Behind the Words: Travis Baker

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

TB2Travis Baker was born in South Boston but has lived in Houston, New York City, Orono, and Savannah.  As well as writing short fiction, he enjoys crafting fantasy and plays, and he just completed a novel, Texas Sky.  His play One Blue Tarp was named the best Maine play in the prestigious 2013 Clauder New England Playwrights Competition.  Its world premiere will run from February 1st to February 16th with the Penobscot Theater Company in Bangor.  Baker lives in Maine with his wife and two sons.


Elizabeth: Your piece of flash fiction, “The Other Side of the Bed,” explores, in an evocative and surprising way, an incident between two people.  What inspired you to use a split narrative?  Did it lead to the story developing differently from how you expected?
Travis: The Other Side of the Bed came out of a workshop exercise at Fairfield dealing with POV.  The language in the piece emerged from the two characters differing views on just what the bed was.  For Him, it’s a raft to dreams and paradise.  For Her, it’s an all too familiar pit she keeps falling into.  This dual narrative greatly influenced the writing of my novel, Texas Sky.


You’re also a fantasy author.  Is “The Other Side of the Bed” an atypical writing venture for you?  What draws you to the flash genre?  Do you think a piece can be both flash and fantasy?
The Fantasy genre is more of a divergent path for me.  I’ve written shorts stories and flash fiction for the most part.  I completed Texas Sky, my first novel, last winter and am hunting down publication for that.  It’s a difficult story to sell.  I’ve been working up to the longer forms of writing as it allows for greater interaction with characters.  The fantasy book is part one of a series which should make for quite the character involvement.  It should be noted that almost all of my stories, plays, etc. have elements of fantasy or magical realism.  I don’t really read or write short pieces (except my students works).  I like a big canvas, a full work that I can get lost in for several hours or days or weeks or months at a time.


Your play, One Blue Tarp, is about to have its world premiere on February 1st.  (Congratulations!)  What is the process of playwrighting like for you?  Do you write your plays like you write short stories and novels, or do you approach them from distinct angles?
Playwrighting is, I suppose, my more natural field.  I love the moment when all the work by myself, the actors, the director, the production team and the crew meets the audience and the live, electric energy that bounces about that can only happen in a theatre.  Having said that, one does give up a good deal of control on how the work comes across.  Prose is more work in terms of building the world in which the story is told but with drama you get to have opening night parties.


You mentioned a few of your literary influences to me, so let’s take those names and do something fun with them.  Choose to marry/kill/have a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 with the following three: John Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, and Edward Albee.*
 *To explain how this works if you’ve never answered a question like this before: pick one of them to marry, one to kill, and one with whom to share a frozen hot chocolate.   And preferably say why.
I don’t think I could marry any of those guys.  My wife puts up with a good deal of silly writer nonsense and I don’t think I could do the same.  I suppose Edward, being gay, would be the only real possibility and he does have a cool loft in tribeca but then I’d always be in his shadow until I had him ‘taken care of’.  I’d have the frozen hot chocolate, which I never got around to having when I lived in NYC (next visit!), with Dostoyevsky because I’m pretty sure he could use one.  I’d kill Steinbeck, especially if we were on a long trip together to Russia or across America.  I’d just get fed up with him and his damn dog, whack him with an axe and dump his body in the dessert.


Elizabeth Ballou is a second-year student at the University of Virginia, but currently lives in Valencia, Spain.  Her essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in Prick of the Spindle, Crack the Spine, {tap}, Bustle, and the Adroit Journal, among others, and have been nominated for the 2013 Best of the Net awards and Calyx Journal flash fiction prize.  After being shortlisted for the 2012 Adroit Prizes in Verse, she joined the staff, where she now serves as fiction editor.  When not writing, she can be found making cheesecake and wishing she were as funny as David Sedaris.  Check out her work at Letters of Mist.

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