Featured Friday! Rob Shackleford
Hi, my name is Rob Shackleford.
I live in Australia on the Gold Coast, which is a beach area. Fortunately I live away from the majority of the commercialism, where empty beaches still beckon.
Though not yet an old fart, I have two adult kids and my lady love also has two adult kids, so we are kept busy. No grandkids on the horizon yet!
My status is semi-retired. I hate that description, but we have cast off the mooring lines and, for the past few years, spent our time travelling and trying to gather an insight into the background for my books. Hey, it’s a good excuse for seeing some pretty fabulous parts of the world. We have been fortunate to see much of Asia and India, the USA and England, and Turkey, Mexico and many other places.
My background is in media, tourism, and time as a college teacher. I have run my own businesses and learned some of life’s harsh lessons, have a couple of degrees, and know that there is much more for me to learn and experience in life. Besides travel, I love to experience nature, scuba dive, play the djembe, look at the stars, and play in the surf.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
Besides the poverty and self-promotion to help sales? At this stage of my career, I love the creative process that is writing. Like ant skill it needs to be developed and nurtured, so I acknowledge my first book, Traveller Inceptio, though heavily edited and rewritten on so many occasions, has been a crucible for my continual development as a writer.
Anticipated lifestyle – well that is quite something else.
What made you start writing?
Initially I wrote because I was depressed. I had been ripped off by a crooked business partner and was at a loose end. Things weren’t going well and, to my relief, I had a story run through my mind that needed to be documented.
My process might be best described by the great American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou who said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Yes, the story simply had to come out. That poor little illegitimate child had to be born.
After a few years of paranoia and stumbling research, Traveller Inceptio had finally been published. Because the novel lends itself to a sequel, book 2 and 3, Traveller Probo and Traveller Manifesto, have been written and are being polished up.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
There are so many.
Stephen King for his ability to create terrific stories.
George Martin for creating a world that, in Game of Thrones, has entertained billions.
Andy Weir (The Martian) for creating a crisp, realistic story.
Gregory David Roberts (Shantaram) for his wordsmith ability.
Sorry – I can’t keep to one.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
That is tough, because much in writing is about your own personal confidence and desires. My first piece of advice is to start writing, no matter what. Too many believe they must have the whole story before writing starts, while I find the story develops as I write. It’s like painting, or weaving a rich tapestry with words. Like a journey, it starts with the courageous first step.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I like to read history (boring fart that I am), science fiction (clever ones – think Dune and others), and tales that fully develop the character. Sometimes I pick one at random. As you can tell with my book Traveller Inceptio, the love of History and Sci Fi has come through.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Obviously Tatae, the Saxon village healer and paramour of Michael, though I might not be able to keep up with her, so probably Phil, the researcher, for a laugh and a surf, or Yffi, the Saxon Hunter, to learn the ways of the untouched forest of Saxon England.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
Surprisingly, “Jerusalem” by Simon Sebag Montfiore – if you want to understand a modicum of what is going on in that crazy place that seems to influence the world so much. Beautifully written, it is a history (of course) of Jerusalem.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
My first book, Traveller Inceptio, was initially self-published, critiqued, then edited. My first (yes, there have been more than one) British editor metaphorically tore off my arm and beat me over the head with it. Wiping away my tears I followed his advice in most areas, reduced the draft by 50,000 words, sent it out for review and received positive response and 5 star reviews.
What was removed was a significant development of aboriginals the heroes accidentally met when testing their device. It was deemed prudent to remove the whole chapter. I wanted a full development of the cultural background so we as readers could experience the shock of those ancient people meeting modern Travellers. It had to go.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
Lord of the Rings
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
Not really, as I never really thought I would write a book. Now I have written four and have two more in the pipeline. The biggest relief is how people who have read my first book, Traveller Inceptio, actually have enjoyed it. I don’t have a formula to writing, (x% fighting, y% romance and sex, z% clever science stuff) so I aim to create a world that is realistic to the scenario and can be enjoyed. My main effort is to be real. I hate reading a book and then declaring “Well – that wouldn’t happen because …” What I write must stand up to the critique of the reader.
Anyway, the reader market is so large, someone will like it!
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
Great reviews are one of the best things to happen in the day. My one bad review was a revenge review, but I have a couple of relatively poor reviews that compel me to be better at writing. They hurt though.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Are we there yet?
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I have already written Traveller Probo, the sequel to Traveller Inceptio, and it has been tested and deemed good enough. I hope for that to be published as soon as Traveller Inceptio – Traveller book 1 – kicks off. Traveller Inceptio does lend itself to a sequel, hence Traveller Probo.
I am currently writing an unrelated book.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
Thanks Rob for taking the time to answer our questions, lots of interesting stuff in there! I’m particularly intrigued by the concept of a “revenge review”, you left us hanging with that one!
If you want to find out more about Rob and Traveler Inceptio then follow the links below!
If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?
With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.
Or is it to a possible past?
The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.
An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when an international team of crack Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.
The elite researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trials of early 11th Century life.