Bring Me the Head of Antony Innis Travers (the Author's Website); the text is set in a white oval within a collage: crossroads, temple at Delphi, lotus, rusted anchor & shackle, katana blade, Möbius strip, stack of books, sailboat at sunset, Underwood typewriter, nautical chart of the Florida Straits, whale flukes, an hourglass in the desert, all on a water background

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FAQ
(About the Author)

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Q: Is this persona entirely made up?

A: All personas are, in fact, “entirely made up.” But this one’s derived from years of 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 that we 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 proclivities?

A: I don’t mind you asking, but they’re none of your concern.

 

Q: Do you have some sort of ethnic background?

A: Yes. Don’t we all, after our fashions?

 

Q: What previous jobs helped prepare you for your present career?

A: Balloon vendor, roustabout for a traveling circus in Holland, roustabout on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, gardener, several years with a purveyor of bulk seeds and spices in an establishment that looked as if it were situated in the nineteenth century, boat carpenter, environmental activist, crewing a gambling ship out of Miami, several endeavors I shouldn’t mention here — even if the statute of limitations has run out — plus some less pertinent experience: like proofreader and editor.

 

Q: How do you gauge the commercial viability of your work?

A: Inaccurately, I hope. Since I don’t write for any formulaic niche, pay more 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 because I 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 somehow resisted the cultural conditioning required to effectively make me quit. We all know that writers end badly, paintings increase in value after an artist’s demise, and dreamers die broke. Still and all, it’d be nice to make a decent living at this. So you’re especially welcome to help prove me wrong.

 

Q: Do you think your scribblings will change the world or something?

A: You should have asked me when I was younger. Better yet, you should have asked the Apostles, Karl Marx, or Robert Hunter. My illusions might have worn a bit thin by now, but I do know this: every slightest gesture changes the world. Ever 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?

A: Well, 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 sailboats, in 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 language sprinkled liberally throughout your material, I suspect you’re an expatriate.

A: Was. After a personal disagreement with the federal government (remember Viet Nam?), I left the country for a few years. When everyone else was heading toward Canada — which is a wonderful country, by the way — it just sounded too cold…and too close for comfort. So I ended up in Morocco.

 

Q: Is it true that you actually have a stamp from Timbuktu in one of your old passports?

A: Except 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. Well?

A: Didn’t I just cover this? Yeah, I was. Probably the most courageous political decision 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 advantage; instead tried to turn down a student deferment, because Bobby Kennedy pointed out how unfair they were; and finally told my local draft board in a hearing that I’d volunteer for induction into a war I sincerely opposed on principle if they could guarantee to make me a medic (“Drop me into a combat zone, with a target painted on my forehead and no means of self-defense” were the exact words). Both sides in the discussion thought the other was being unreasonable, so I left…everything I’d ever known. With little expectation of ever coming back. The rest, as they say, is history. In those days, passports were good for five years before renewal. I was gone for three of ’em — that time.

 

Q: So, you’re a pacifist?

A: No, more’s the pity. My objection was to a specific war (and I volunteered to change my conscientious objector claim from 1O to 1AO, as outlined above). Then, my first night in Tangier I almost got knifed in my own hotel room, and decided to put a rather aggressive stop to it (another long story — maybe I’ll tell it 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 and on with the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee — Quakers), and later spent a few years crewing on Greenpeace ships (another organization largely started by 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 you’re at work, you’d best not respond with a violent reaction — gives the whole movement a bad name. I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts about those tactics most of my life, and still do. But they worked for Gandhi and King, so… However, I’m afraid I’m not nearly that forbearing in my off time.

 

Q: While we’re on this topic, what is it with you and edged weapons?

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 before 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 wrong, I liked the series, but halfway through the first season I was swearing at the 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?

A: Unrepentant leftist, last liberal still standing, sixties radical who’s seen better decades, rare specimen of an endangered species — take your pick. And, to answer your second question: Inevitably. Even Pablo Picasso painted Guernica.

 

Q: Apparently, you were something of an environmental activist. Do tell.

A: I was younger and tougher then. The most radical thing I do these days is write. I’ve tried to keep my hand in a bit, but most of my suggestions just seem to upset the 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?

A: Yeah, that’s true.

 

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 by —

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?

A: No…only as many as possible. But with all the damned cell phones these days, I wish I’d kept a few of the earlier shots in circulation. There’s one on my driver’s license, of course. And those from a series of old passports. There’re even a 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.

A: I’ll admit this much. All in all, I was much happier in the Bronze Age. In that era, 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 the 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 another version: I once crossed the International Date Line traveling east, gained a day, and ceased to age ever after. Then I crossed it again headed west, the spell was broken, and — though I did go east again — it was a downhill slide after 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 simple formula which…

 

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 respectable 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 attempt to disguise the former or distance myself from the latter. Fiction I care to be 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 accidental circumstances of an ancestor so remote that he and his heir couldn’t possibly have been personally acquainted. A given name, on the other hand, is the often arbitrary whim of someone the recipient has just met. I was raised in a region alternately rich in imagination or downright impoverished of it, populated by characters called after Old Testament prophets, classical poets, outlaws, and other anomalies, but for every one of these encountered in the feed store, there was also someone saddled with a legal nickname so silly a grown human could hardly bear it. That same region produced not only the literary figure with 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 should the name I sign to my work have less significance than the names I assign to characters in that work? In some societies, names have intrinsic meanings settled by more than sheer accident. Suffice it to say that the name I put to 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 it over the years. A loose translation would be something like “worth more than you’d ever suppose.”
     As a kid, I loved comic books. (Hell, I was practically past my second or third midlife crisis before I realized that Kryptonite had absolutely no effect on me.) So later on I used to register in Third World hotels as Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, or my favorite, Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern) — just to throw ’em 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, roughly equivalent to “regular folks,” “rubes,” “marks.”) (Incidentally, Aquaman had 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 practically 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 copyright 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 premise in two words: Mark Twain. 

     And if that’s not enough on the subject, here’s a short poem.

 

An Anapaestic, Catalectic Couplet:
On Scanning His Own Name

 
                                                   It’s not really trochaic trimeter
                                                   If the first foot’s an actual dactyl.

 

Antony Innis Travers

 

 


 



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