The latest sucker to answer The Questions is Troy Aaron Ratliff, who, in addition to being an author and artist, also claims to be a lover and a weirdo (I can verify his weirdo claim, but then, I am one too). I met him online in an awesome writers’ group; his humor and amazing ability to create art caught my attention. Troy also has the dubious honor of being the first person I video-chatted with after I got my new computer. We have never chatted that way again. Hmmmm……..
Anyway, the pic above shows the covers to two of his books and a sample of his art. Just Past the Trees will be released this Friday, 8/24/12, on Amazon; The Uninvited Guest and Little Bernie’s Map is available now.
21. What one place in the whole world would you never go, not for love or money?
Immediately, my first thought was New York City. I love big sprawling metropolises, and I currently live outside of Los Angeles, but avoiding NYC is kinda off the table for me, since most publishers/editors/agents/author-building blocks are stationed there. So, my next choice? Spider Island. There is nothing you could do to get me there. Yikes. And even if the island is named because of the shape or some other kind of geographical reason and there really isn’t an infestation of creepy crawlies, I’m not about to take my chances.
13. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night Owl, hooting at the moon. Always have been, probably always will be.
20. When did you know you wanted to be a writer/artist?
I’ve always enjoyed creating, even at a young age, doodling and writing out funny stories that made my teachers and classmates laugh. All of it was fun. But, when I was about 11 years old Jurassic Park came out (IMHO, my generation’s Star Wars). That altered my life forever. I read the book, struggling with the larger adult words in the novel, but enjoying all the cameos of the different dinosaurs and all the gory parts. I loved those! Eventually, I ended up reading Michael Crichton’s Sphere. After that, I was in love with storytelling. Soon after Sphere, I read Stephen King’s The Mist and I was hooked forever on horror and “adult” storytelling. Those two stories were the foundations of my love for writing. I’ve been trying to catch up to those two guys ever since.
As far as my artistry, I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment when I decided I wanted to be an artist. In all honesty, I write and I draw because I love to do it, but I love to do them for different reasons. I write because I love telling a great story to people that will stick with them, affect them, make them think, and resound with them. Stories are powerful that way. Art is such a visual stimulant that gives a short burst of enjoyment for a moment or a little longer, depending on the person, but a story can stick with someone for years and can change the way people view the world or themselves. There’s power in that.
5. What skills do you wish you would have learned as a kid?
Singing. Although, with such an overflow of singing shows nowadays, with televised competitions and everything else, any desire for that has gone by the wayside. The overexposure of it has caused singing to have this kind of rotten, arbitrary quality to it. It’s all subjective anyway, so why do three burnouts get to choose? To me it’s less talent, more annoyance now. When anything becomes a reality show, the whole thing becomes tainted and ruined to me. I’m sure a lot of people would disagree, but that’s how I feel about it.
(dSavannah note: I agree! But I actually can sing. )
15. What inspires you?
Inspiration comes in so many forms and avenues that to pinpoint it down to a certain singular thing is kind of impossible. The whole of creating and finding inspiration boils down to the mood I’m in and what I’m feeling antsy to create. The creative process for me comes in waves, oscillating between writing and drawing. I’ll be on a drawing and art tear for a month and then, suddenly, nothing. Same with writing. If I had to answer in the most simplified, bare-bones manner, it would have to be either music or other people’s work. Both can trigger the avalanche and the avalanche might have been held back because I couldn’t work past one tiny little thing, one singular detail. Fun fact about me: If I have a story that’s cooking in the back of my head and I’m gearing up to write it, I’ll usually seek out some new music. It doesn’t even have to be associative music either – meaning if I’m writing a story in the country doesn’t mean I go looking for Marty Robbins or The Eagles Greatest Hits – but once I find that right song, I’ll just know. Then, it’ll be time to slip on the headphones, set the song on repeat, and listen to it 300 times. I know it sounds insane, but the music can put me in the right headspace. Other times, silence works just as good.
18. Your workspace: neat or messy?
Messy, no question. If it becomes too neat it means I’m not working hard enough. Some people can work like that, but I need everything in front of me. There is some general “order” to the mess, but it would certainly be deemed a mess to most people.
6. What do you want written on your tombstone?
Troy Aaron Ratliff was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, and self educated in writing, art and voice impersonations. When he’s not reading, writing and cooking up his next monstrosity, you can generally find him defending the galaxy from the forces of evil, feeding hippopotamuses, dining with foreign dignitaries and Zen masters, waking up to his supermodel wife, altering the space-time inter-dimensional warp or, more than likely, stuck in traffic somewhere in Southern California. The rest? Make it up as you go along.
- His Website
- Find his stories on Amazon, Smashwords, and bn.com
- Buy his art on Zazzle