Why did you pursue writing?
I grew up long before the internet, personal computers, Blockbuster, Netflix, satellite TV, etc. On top of that, I was raised on a farm in an isolated region. Books were really the only diversion a person had from their normal routine. Books were the venue to take you on journeys all over the world, to other times and other cultures. The winters were long, dark, and cold. Boredom was a daily villain to be slain with books and imagination.
Starting at a young age, my mind would take little side trips during those stories. Those little trips became longer and more frequent until the stories morphed into a plots altogether different than the authors' versions. At some point those stories in my head started from scratch.
Also, I can't play, sing or write a lick of music, and I'm a pathetic craftsman. I attempted art, but my own artwork shunned me. Storytelling became my creative outlet out of necessity.
What inspired your book?
In 1998 I interviewed an inmate convicted of one of the most brutal and senseless murders in Florida history. Within the sterile, cinder-block walls of a maximum security prison, a baby-faced, 15-year-old boy recounted that gruesome afternoon.
By all appearances, he looked the most unlikely of killers. He sat in my office with prison blues hanging loosely over his petit, lanky frame. He looked like a boy who should be bagging groceries or stumbling through school hallways hunched over by an overstuffed book bag. But that is not what made this case unique. Forty-eight times he had plunged a knife into the chest of an elderly widow, and even more unsettling was his unwavering insistence that those actions were not by his own will. In other words, he claimed he was possessed.
I had worked that job several years and learned to sift through lies to uncover truth. This young man was telling the truth, or at least what he believed to be true. Furthermore, he had already been convicted, and because he had pled guilty, he had waived his right to appeal. It served no purpose to lie at this point, especially such an outlandish one. He was going to spend the rest of his life in prison, and had no legal recourse to attempt otherwise.
I went on to do my own research in the subject matter and was intrigued with the possibility that spirits could influence humans to commit crimes, maybe to serve some bigger purpose outside a personal agenda. The research gave birth to ideas and eventually those ideas were shaped into a story.
How long have you been publishing your work?
An author by the name of Victor DiGenti had a column in the Florida Writers Associate monthly newsletter titled, "The First Million Words Don't Count." That title pretty much sums up my writing career until Unholy Bargain was published this year. I've spent many years getting those first million words down, including 3 other novels. But hey, as every writer knows, it's all part of learning the craft.
What’s your writing environment like?
Much of Unholy Bargain was written from a park bench during my lunch hour. Usually I would choke down a sandwich sometime late morning, then drive two minutes from my office to a nice, quiet, off-the-beaten-path park. That routine gave me maximum writing time.
I don't think my co-workers ever really knew what I was doing. They got together for lunch most days after I had already disappeared. I think they figured I was just antisocial (which I'm not denying as a possibility). I simply thought it was an efficient use of time.
What projects are you currently working on?
I'm working on a sequel to Unholy Bargain which takes place a few years down the road. All the main characters will return of course, plus a few new ones will enter the scene. Without giving too much away, there will be more dealings with the spirit realm: remote viewing that spans time, an ancient artifact, past lives, and "walk-ins."
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Travis Hallden Holt is a former U.S. Navy surface warfare officer and veteran of the Persian Gulf War. He's worked the past twenty-two years in the corrections side of law enforcement, first in the prison system, then in the streets as a probation officer. He spent three years supervising felons in a south Atlanta neighborhood ranked the ninth most dangerous neighborhood in America, where one in every twelve residents becomes a victim of crime each year.
For years, his interests were in weaponry (both small arms and large scale), warfare tactics, hand-to-hand combat, criminal justice and unsolved crimes. But life has a way of molding perspectives, and Travis came to realize the physical world known to the five senses didn't have all the answers. It scratched the surface at best. Accordingly, Travis's interests shifted to supernatural phenomenon, spirituality, the mysteries of life, the invisible world beyond our five senses and the forces that lie therein. He's still a peace officer, but one who has mingled with psychics, mystics, mediums, energy healers, shamans, gurus, artists and denizens of the "underground."
Travis is the author of Unholy Bargain, a supernatural thriller published by Double Dragon Publishing. He resides in Atlanta, GA.