- Is this persona entirely made up?
- If you don’t mind my asking, what
are your sexual proclivities?
- Do you have some sort of ethnic
- What previous jobs helped prepare
you for your present career?
- How do you gauge the commercial
viability of your work?
- Do you think your scribblings will
change the world or something?
- You talked a lot about sailing in
your recent book. Do you really have any maritime experience?
- From the amount of foreign language
sprinkled liberally throughout your material, I suspect you’re an
- Is it true that you actually have a
stamp from Timbuktu in one of your old passports?
- I heard you were a draft resister.
- So, you’re a pacifist?
- While we’re on this topic, what is
it with you and edged weapons?
- How would you describe your
politics? And do you believe politics and social philosophy inform art?
- Apparently, you were something of
an environmental activist. Do tell.
- Is it true you once stopped a
Trident missile test?
- I heard you helped track a nuclear
waste shipment around Cape Horn, from the English Channel to Japan?
- …fouled trawl nets in the Barents
- …swiped some toxic waste and…
- …broke a British High Court
injunction off Cornwall by —
- Speaking of photos, there don’t
seem to be any of you. Did you have them all destroyed?
- How old are you anyway? From some
of these comments, you sound positively ancient.
- Do you write under a pen name? And, if so, why?
Q: Is this persona entirely made up?
personas are, in fact, “entirely made up.” But this one’s derived from
hard living, I assure you. No matter how much they might stretch your
credulity, the answers I’m about to give are essentially accurate. Now
have that out of the way, let’s get on with the deposition.
Q: If you don’t mind my asking, what
are your sexual
A: I don’t
mind you asking, but they’re none of your concern.
Q: Do you have some sort of ethnic
Don’t we all, after our fashions?
Q: What previous jobs helped prepare
you for your
A: Balloon vendor,
roustabout for a traveling circus in Holland, roustabout on an offshore
in the Gulf of Mexico, gardener, several years with a purveyor of bulk
and spices in an establishment that looked as if it were situated in
nineteenth century, boat carpenter, environmental activist, crewing a
ship out of Miami, several endeavors I shouldn’t mention here — even if
statute of limitations has run out — plus some less
like proofreader and editor.
Q: How do you gauge the commercial
viability of your
Inaccurately, I hope. Since I don’t write for any formulaic niche, pay
than passing attention to market trends, or follow current fashions in
publishing — because originality, for all the Literati
would fend it off,
always sets the trends for them to follow. I didn’t commence writing
thought it was lucrative (please credit me with more sense than
that…yet not a
great deal more, since I’m still doing it anyway) — rather, because I
resisted the cultural conditioning required to effectively make me
quit. We all
know that writers end badly, paintings increase in value after an
demise, and dreamers die broke. Still and all, it’d be nice to make a
living at this. So you’re especially welcome to help prove me wrong.
Q: Do you think your scribblings will
change the world
should have asked me when I was younger. Better yet, you should have
Apostles, Karl Marx, or Robert Hunter. My illusions might have worn a
by now, but I do know this: every slightest gesture changes the world.
hear of the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory?
Q: You talked a lot about sailing in
your recent book.
Do you really have any maritime experience?
lots of afternoons in waterfront bars. Crossings of both the Atlantic
and Pacific…top to bottom and side to side. Some
island time. Too much
time in the Arctic, and way too much on the North Sea. But I’ve let my AB
ticket and Master’s license lapse since
then. And, yeah, about twenty-odd years under canvas (on proper
other words). There’s also an exact conjunction of Mars, Neptune,
and the Ascendant in my natal horoscope. Will that do?
Q: From the amount of foreign
liberally throughout your material, I suspect you’re an expatriate.
After a personal disagreement with the federal government (remember Viet Nam?),
left the country for a few years. When everyone else was heading toward
Canada — which
a wonderful country, by the way — it just sounded too cold…and too close
comfort. So I ended up in Morocco.
Q: Is it true that you actually have
a stamp from Timbuktu
in one of your
that it’s spelled Tombouctou locally… Otherwise, yes. I got stuck there
once — but
that’s a long story. Finally hitched a ride out on an old DC-3.
Q: I heard you were a draft resister.
A: Didn’t I
just cover this? Yeah, I was. Probably the most courageous political
I’ve ever made. I used to do volunteer work at a draft counseling
center, so I
knew how the system was rigged, and might well have used that to my
instead tried to turn down a student deferment, because Bobby Kennedy
out how unfair they were; and finally told my local draft board in a
that I’d volunteer for induction into a war I sincerely opposed on
they could guarantee to make me a medic (“Drop me into a combat zone,
target painted on my forehead and no means of self-defense” were the
words). Both sides in the discussion thought the other was being
so I left…everything I’d ever known. With little expectation of ever
back. The rest, as they say, is history. In those days, passports were
five years before renewal. I was gone for three of ’em — that
Q: So, you’re a pacifist?
more’s the pity. My objection was to a specific war (and I volunteered
change my conscientious objector claim from 1O to 1AO, as outlined
my first night in Tangier I almost got knifed in my own hotel room, and
to put a rather aggressive stop to it (another long story — maybe I’ll
someday), which pretty much settled any lingering doubts as to personal
pacifism. Nevertheless, since I was involved with Student Mobe (Student
Mobilization Committee to End the War in Viet Nam), while mostly just
socializing with SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), worked off
with the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee — Quakers), and later
few years crewing on Greenpeace ships (another organization largely
Quakers), I came to consider myself a professional
pacifist. In other
words, no matter how much the other side tends to fuck with you while
work, you’d best not respond with a violent reaction — gives the whole
bad name. I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts about those tactics most of my
and still do. But they worked for Gandhi and King, so… However, I’m
not nearly that forbearing in my off time.
Q: While we’re on this topic, what is
it with you and
A: Just have
an affinity for ’em. What can I say? Reminds me of the old days — and I
mean the really
old days. In this incarnation, I had a katana much older than I was
Duncan MacLeod had a TV series. In fact, our old place in Paris
was on the Quai de la Tournelle, overlooking the Seine,
long before he got permission to moor a barge there. Don’t get me
liked the series, but halfway through the first season I was swearing
television: “This s.o.b. stole my life.”
Q: How would you describe your
politics? And do you
believe politics and social philosophy inform art?
Unrepentant leftist, last liberal still standing, sixties radical who’s
better decades, rare specimen of an endangered species — take your pick.
answer your second question: Inevitably. Even Pablo
Picasso painted Guernica.
Q: Apparently, you were something of
activist. Do tell.
A: I was younger
and tougher then. The most radical thing I do these days is write. I’ve
to keep my hand in a bit, but most of my suggestions just seem to upset
local progressives. We still recycle.
Q: Is it true you once stopped a
Trident missile test?
A: No, not
technically. Severely delayed the launch would be
more accurate. At the
end of the day, however, we were ahead of the
submarine two falls out of
three. (And I certainly didn’t do it alone.)
Q: I heard you helped track a
nuclear waste shipment around Cape Horn, from the English Channel to Japan?
Q: …fouled trawl nets in the Barents Sea…
A: And that.
Q: …swiped some toxic waste and…
A: That, too.
Q: …broke a British High
Court injunction off Cornwall
A: As far as
I’m aware, that’s still clandestine information. Even the photos were
suppressed. (But if you come across one, please send it along. It was
one of my
more photogenic moments.)
Q: Speaking of photos, there don’t
seem to be any of
you. Did you have them all destroyed?
as many as possible. But with all the damned cell phones these days, I
kept a few of the earlier shots in circulation. There’s one on my
license, of course. And those from a series of old passports. There’re
few strewn around the Internet…if you can figure out where to look.
Q: How old are you anyway? From some
of these comments,
you sound positively ancient.
admit this much. All in all, I was much happier in the Bronze Age. In
a fellow with a bit of attitude could ride into town, chat up the local
matriarchs, sack something or other, and try to get out of Dodge before
impending year king ceremony. Next county over, all was forgotten. Those
were the days. But it’s not the years; it’s the mileage. Or, here’s
version: I once crossed the International Date Line traveling east,
day, and ceased to age ever after. Then I crossed it again headed west,
spell was broken, and — though I did go east again — it was a downhill
that. (You know, I think I’ll actually write that story, even if it is
true.) Or perhaps you’d prefer one these. Sequestered somewhere in the
mountains of Nepal
is a small valley… Near an outlaying atoll of the Bahamas,
a freshwater spring rises
in the ocean… Concealed in the glyphs of an old alchemical text, is a
Q: Do you write under a pen name?
And, if so, why?
A: Yes. For
privacy, mostly. (Though it does save some embarrassment to more
branches of the family.)
Let me dispense with routine
assumptions first. The way I
sign my work has nothing to do with gender or genre; it isn’t an
disguise the former or distance myself from the latter. Fiction I care
identified with is the only kind I write.
Why not use my “real” name…aside from
the fact that several
primary school teachers insisted it was a typo? Surnames in this
society are no
more than vestiges of patriarchal custom, usually derived from the
circumstances of an ancestor so remote that he and his heir couldn’t
have been personally acquainted. A given name, on the other hand, is
arbitrary whim of someone the recipient has just met. I was raised in a
alternately rich in imagination or downright impoverished of it,
characters called after Old Testament prophets, classical poets,
other anomalies, but for every one of these encountered in the feed
there was also someone saddled with a legal nickname so silly a grown
hardly bear it. That same region produced not only the literary figure
whom I’ll close these remarks, but a president whose entire middle name
consisted of the letter S (no period, mind you).
And it taught me that
reality isn’t so much a condition to tolerate as one to alter.
The name which appears on my birth
certificate has become
almost a matter of indifference to me. Writing fiction is not. So why
the name I sign to my work have less significance than the names I
characters in that work? In some societies, names have intrinsic
settled by more than sheer accident. Suffice it to say that the name I
this page does have significance for me; it’s a conscious choice.
Travers simply means
“crossroads” — someplace I’ve spent most
of my life, one way or another. And Innis (pronounced: ĭ′•nĭsh, by the
way) is Gaelic for “island.” (With all due respect to John Donne,
sometimes it does
feel that way.) Antony
is my given name, more or less, and I’ve answered to every variation of
the years. A loose translation would be something like “worth more than
As a kid, I loved comic books. (Hell, I
past my second or third midlife crisis before I realized that
absolutely no effect on me.) So later on I used to register in Third
hotels as Clark Kent,
Bruce Wayne, or my favorite, Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern) — just to
off the scent. I particularly liked that the characters had alter egos
(Superman? No shit — I didn’t recognize him with
glasses on), which
allowed them to masquerade as citizens. (Citizens: old carnie term,
equivalent to “regular folks,” “rubes,” “marks.”) (Incidentally,
the coolest name: Arthur Curry. Betcha didn’t know that. It wasn’t
really a secret
identity, though. Pretty up-front kinda guy. In fact, he was
the only one in his crowd who actually got married.) But I digress.
If you really want to pull the mask
off, it’s not that
hard. All you have to do is buy one of my books and look at the
notice, in fine print, near the front.
The notion of an author treating his
own identity as
another composition, of sorts, isn’t exactly novel. I can sum up that
in two words: Mark Twain.
if that’s not enough on the
subject, here’s a short poem.
Scanning His Own Name
It’s not really trochaic
If the first foot’s an actual dactyl.
Antony Innis Travers