An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher, and management roles in too many places.
With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, scuba diving, family history, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.
Rob is a father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.
- When did you start writing? I started writing about six years ago and took me about four years to write.The book was originally known as “Traveller”, a title that was too common. Since then it has been test-marketed, edited, retitled, added to, and finally emerged as “Traveller Inceptio”. It has been a long road.
What is your inspiration? This is difficult to define clearly, as I became aware that I had stories that needed to be told. While I have been an avid reader for most of my life, writing was probably delayed by my being too busy with the mechanics of life rather than in living. I could quote authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, or others who were inspiring. My inspiration can be described to have been garnered from the terrific stories by the many sci-fi, history, and adventure writers, both fiction or factual, whose moments I have shared.
How did you come up with your stories? I am most fortunate to live reasonably close to beaches in sunny Queensland, Australia. One day I was sitting on a beach and, as I looked at some nearby hi-rise apartments, I had the thought, “What was this location be like 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or let’s go the whole hog and imagine what it was like 1000 years ago.” Then it was – “How would I survive if I was to travel back to that time?” Extrapolate that out and Traveller Inceptio became, um, incepted.
Where is your favorite place to write? I have a desk in our apartment. Recently I moved to the Gold Coast and have the good fortune to live even closer to the beaches. My desk is a bright, airy place where I have views of the sea. It is not distracting enough to take my mind off the task at hand, but bright enough to be inspiring and it has a positive vibe.My desk, with Internet availability, is my favorite place to do some serious writing. It’s really about having information at my fingertips.
Do you plan your stories before starting? “Traveller Inceptio” began organically. I knew roughly how it could end, but the story soon developed as I wanted to portray how real people would react. In all, I do try to be as realistic as possible, how humans can react when placed into challenging circumstances. Naturally, Traveller Inceptio has suffered numerous axe-attacks by editors and I have learned a lot about story formation, removing guff, and writing in something close to the English language.A few times I experienced where I felt someone else was writing the story, where I was typing away and would go “Wow, I didn’t know that was going to happen!” I’m not sure if I am possessed, but the experience seemed to be a productive one.I have just completed a draft of Traveller 2 – Traveller Probo, which is a natural continuation of the story in Traveller Inceptio. There, I had had a better idea as to where I was going. In fact, the final chapter was one of the first that I wrote.“Traveller Inceptio” began organically. I knew roughly how it could end, but the story soon developed as I wanted to portray how real people would react. In all, I do try to be as realistic as possible, how humans can react when placed into challenging circumstances. Naturally, Traveller Inceptio has suffered numerous axe-attacks by editors and I have learned a lot about story formation, removing guff, and writing in something close to the English language.
When did you first consider yourself an author? I see myself as a writer and a storyteller. When I get the big break – then I feel I can call myself an author. I still stumble over the “a” word as I have it tied to unrealistic expectations such as money, celebrity, and a mini-series, but I’m getting there.
Do you see writing as a career? Yes, I do. If one is to complete a book and then go through the onerous task of publishing and being noticed, it becomes inevitable that you have to take this seriously. So, yes, my writing is a career at which I aim to eventually make a living.I might add on a personal note that I have had the good fortune to have sold my house, moved in with my lady love, and have the cash to do what I need for some time as yet. I don’t have the burden of a crappy job, a mortgage, or debt, so I am in the enviable position of making the choice to become a paid author and have the time to maintain the unending motivation to achieve that goal. I did, however, begin my writing path when I had all three of the aforementioned.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I think writing is a major learning experience. I aim for my writing to entertain, where readers can invest the time to digest my story and come out of the experience happy to have made that investment. I hope to make my stories unique, even a little bit, and hope someone isn’t writing something along the same lines.
My most challenging task is in the mechanics of writing; to remove excessive waffle, improve my language, be creative in an appealing manner, and learn to be a better wordsmith. In the end, writing is about using the tools of trade to create an entertaining outcome that readers will pay for.However, I enjoy writing and especially love having someone say they enjoyed reading my work.
What was the hardest part of writing your book? The hardest part of writing “Traveller Inceptio” was in accessing accurate information regarding the people about whom I was writing. I had to know about the Saxons, a people of 1000 years in the past about which a surprising amount is not known. I had to learn in detail about how they dressed, what they ate, attitudes to sex, etc etc.The second hardest part was in learning to write in a more engaging style than the business manner to which I was most familiar.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? I originally self-published “Traveller Inceptio” – then it was just called “Traveller”. I had the book printed and received a lot of positive feedback. The question I was asked most was if there was to be a sequel.
I hadn’t really planned to write a sequel, but the first book lends itself to a continuation of the story. So, I have just completed a draft of the second of the trilogy – called “Traveller Probo” (Latin for investigate or prove). In “Traveller Probo”, we follow on from the success of Saxon Traveller, where governments compete to initiate their own Traveller projects. No spoilers, but politics and fame make for a heady mix when selecting which nations conduct their own projects to send their mission specialists 1000 years into the past. Some locations will surprise.
While writing “Traveller Probo”, I submitted myself to having “Traveller Inceptio” professionally edited. There was a lot of blood, but I survived and the work was retitled, tightened, and rewritten to the version now in existence. I am again submitting the book for a final professional proofread and edit prior to “Traveller Inceptio” being printed.
While I hope to improve my writing and composition skills and make “Traveller Probo” a technically better book, readers can be assured that their favourite characters will not be forgotten.
I have just begun drafting “Traveller Manifesto”, the third in the Traveller series.
Do you have advice for other writers? Yes. As a fellow traveller (no pun intended) I can advise the following:
1. Writing is like acting, dancing, and music. There are a lot out there hoping to win. All I can suggest is don’t be daunted. Live the dream, write your story and don’t give up. Understand it will take a lot more effort and time than you can ever imagine. The process will change you.2. Writing for publication is a hard slog and a tough gig. Learn the publication process, how the traditional process is no longer valid, that agents and publishers won’t even respond to you. This is a lonely path, but if it is your dream, then you must be true to yourself and give it your best shot. Who knows where it can end up. Maybe you are the next J K Rolling. I love her story.
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers? I hope you enjoy “Traveller Inceptio”. It might be a little longer than most, but the story is as had to be told.I most welcome your comments.
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Read our review of Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford