Trouble Triangle Tyler's Trouble Trilogy Book 1 by Travis Casey Genre: Romantic Comedy
Tyler Chambers finds that his luck has run out…almost. After several brushes with the law, he avoids jail by enlisting in the Navy. When Tyler gets stationed in Pearl Harbor all his troubles look to be behind him.
Life keeps getting better when smooth-talking Tyler lands a date with the base's hottest chick, Holly Knight, but things sour quickly when he discovers how controlling and annoying she is. As he is about to dump her, a revelation from his past comes back to haunt him and Holly is the only person who can save his Navy career and keep him out of prison. But what does she want in return?
He should be grateful, but is besotted with another girl. Debbie Meyers is sexually confused and has her own ideas for Tyler. She beds him easily enough and uses him in a vendetta against Holly. Tyler finds himself in a TROUBLE TRIANGLE when both women want him for their own needs.
A story of lust, love and blackmail.
But who's doing what to whom?
Travis was brought up in Midwest America before embarking on a nine year Navy career that allowed him to travel the world and learn about life. He has ping-ponged across oceans moving from mainland United States to Hawaii, to Scotland, to Seattle, to England, to Minnesota, back to England, and back to Minnesota where he currently resides ... for now
He writes easy-reading, light-hearted fiction and "You couldn't make it up" true stories about his own experiences. Relax by the beach or curl up on the couch on a rainy day while Travis takes you on fun-filled adventures that let you forget about life for a while and have a laugh.
Where were you born and grow up? And,for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was a Midwestern kid living in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, and Indiana by the time I was eighteen. Then I joined the Navy and really started traveling. While I was stationed in Hawaii, I met my British-born wife. Coincidentally, my next set of orders were to Scotland. I asked Wendy to come with me as my fiancée, she agreed, and we got married there by a Glaswegian Justice of the Peace that neither one of us could understand. We each said "I do" when we thought he asked us that question. In the end, he gave us a marriage certificate—so we must have got it right.
After leaving the Navy in 1990 we moved to Seattle. Neither of us had ever lived there but it seemed a cool place to live. But in 1992 we returned to the UK for that "European way of life." After owning a tearoom (an American running an English tearoom, now that was a hoot) we sold the business and I went into property renovation. In America, it's called "flipping houses." A phrase I detest because it makes it sound easy and it's anything but. Then the big bust of 2008/09 came and the world crashed into recession, especially the housing market. While I looked for a real job, I began writing—not to make money, but to pass the time—and I got hooked.
In 2014 my parents were taken ill in and we returned to Minnesota to look after them. My dad subsequently died and my mom went into nursing care suffering from Alzheimer's. In 2018 we returned to England to live out the rest of our lives. I, the American, was happy in England. My wife, the Brit, wanted to return to America. No prizes for guessing who won that argument and in 2019 we returned to Minnesota where we currently reside. For now.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I play golf.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I love comedies. I'd have to cite Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Stripes, Trading Places, My Cousin Vinny to name just a few.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I've been told I have an accent—and I'm told that no matter where I am. The Americans think I have an English or perhaps an Australian accent. The Brits think I sound American—or possibly Canadian. No matter where I go, everyone thinks I'm a bloody foreigner!
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
While I was stationed in Scotland—I was there to repair US nuclear submarines along with 1500 other American sailors—a movie company sent word to the ship requesting six guys to play CIA agents in a movie. The only requirement was you had to be six-foot tall. I volunteered and got selected. Every morning for five days, six of us drove to a small Scottish town, Inveraray, some 30 miles away. I don't know why they needed Yanks as we all had non-speaking parts. All we did was stand in the background either wearing suits or kilts. We had to be on the set from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and most days we simply waited to be called to stand in the background of a camera shot. We were paid £20 (about $30) per day. BUT, (a) we got out of fixing submarines for the week, and (b) the movie starred Michael Caine and Roger Moore and directed by Michael Winner (Director of the Deathwish movies with Charles Bronson). So every day we rubbed shoulder with some Hollywood elites. If you know the right split-seconds to look you can see me standing in the background. The movie is entitled Bullseye and it is probably the worst movie any of those three ever made! It's pathetic!
What are some of your pet peeves?
a) Businesses that swear blind that we are important to them yet do everything they can to avoid talking to us.
c) Political Correctness
d) Wearing pajamas in public
Who is your hero and why?
As a kid growing up it was O.J. Simpson, but that ship kind of capsized. As I prepared to leave the Navy, I earned an Associate Degree with the University of Maryland in Business & Management. I wanted to get out of the service and be a corporate climber in the business world. I read Lee Iacocca's autobiography and his second book, Talking Straight. He was fired from the Ford Motor Company as CEO and became the CEO of the Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s when they were facing certain bankruptcy. He turned the company around and made it the successful powerhouse it is today. I admire his tenacity in the face of adversity—and he wrote three books.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Probably a crap one. I don't lie well enough.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
All of them. When I write I see the scenes unfolding in my head projecting onto a screen. The mental visualizations help me write. Not that I'm claiming any blockbusters, but that's what makes it real in my mind.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had no idea how to write a book. My wife encouraged me to give up writing articles for a certain website and focus on a book. Not knowing where to begin, I fell into "Write about what you know." So I penned my Naval memoirs. The problem was; I was not the Captain of an aircraft carrier. Nor was I a Navy SEAl. I never captured a terrorist kingpin, and I didn't sail the globe for thirty years defending democracy. I was a stereotypical sailor having a damn good time during my early twenties in an era when socially questionable behavior was seen as normal in the 1980s US Navy. I wrote the book (76,000 words), sent it to agents (23 of them) and received rejections (23 of them).
So I joined an online writing group to polish the manuscript. I figured some grammar gurus would insert some commas, un-dangle some participles, and tell me what a great book I had. After being stripped bare, swallowing my ego, and admitting my shortcomings, I began my journey of learning the craft. I shelved the memoir and started over.
How did you come up with the concept for the book?
After shelving my Naval memoirs, I decided Tyler Chambers could do more than I ever did. He could be cheekier, more daring, suaver, and at times, a bigger a*hole. I got a trilogy out of him and funnily enough, he followed in my footsteps. He started with shore duty in Hawaii in Trouble Triangle before getting on board a seagoing frigate and sailing the Orient in Oceans of Trouble. Then he went to Scotland where he found a whole lot of Forbidden Trouble.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Trouble Triangle?
I wrote it in first person and Tyler was my alter ego. Many parts of the story are taken from true life events and some are pure fabrication. I won't say which parts are made up simply because I don't want to admit which parts are true! But Holly, Debbie, and Mark all existed in real life and started out as mirrors of real people I knew. However, as the book developed, they all took on their own personalities and became different people.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
All the first names I used were from the actual people I modeled the characters off—Holly, Debbie, and Mark. But in all my books, I'm not a fan of clever or ultra-cool names. All my characters have simple, pronounceable names, and I don't spend much time deliberating on them. I go with whatever hits me immediately and that is the character I create. For my latest creation, I leaned back in my chair for about five seconds and Chad Dixon was born closely followed by Lisa Knolls four seconds later. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
A lot of it involved revisiting an enjoyable time in my life. The skill was making it fiction.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Nymphomaniacs, borderline alcoholics, party people of the 1980s. What's not to love?
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
As with all my novels, I think of a title and then check it on Amazon. My first choice was "Double Trouble." There were at least ten books with that title. I didn't want people buying the wrong book.
"Trouble in Paradise" was my next choice but another half a dozen books showed up. I eventually focused on the triangle part of the relationship and Trouble Triangle was named (and unique).
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about Trouble Triangle?
I began writing it in 2011 and was totally focused on Tyler being an indulgent, stereotypical sailor. So the story is about him and the entire trilogy (Tyler's Trouble Trilogy) is about a young man coming of age. However, there is a subplot that is current in today's climate. Holly and Debbie are lesbians serving in the 1980s military—a time when gays were not allowed. So it is also a story about them having to hide their sexuality. If I had written it with a different POV (point of view) it could have been a very different book. But it's still there and I'm proud to have woven such a (then) taboo subject into a romantic comedy.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
Writing Holly's dad, Reverend Cornelius Knight. My dad was a preacher—although not quite like Holly's dad. Rev. Knight is a TV evangelist who is there to see if Tyler will measure up to his standards as Holly's boyfriend. I had so much fun writing an over the top, fire & brimstone preacher meeting a screw-up like Tyler. It was hilarious and surprisingly easy to write. It just flowed.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be?
I had a serious literary crush on Holly. She could be annoying, but what that girl liked to do in public places … Whew!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They start out based on people I know but develop into their own character. After Triangle, I became more confident with my abilities to write fiction and relied less on basing characters off real people.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
There were times I was just a passenger sitting at the keyboard writing what they told me. I'm not kidding, sometimes they would write me into a corner and it would take me ages to figure out how I would write myself out of it. Or I'd read stuff a few days later and ask myself "Where'd that come from?"
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It helps if you’re a fan of the 1980s. If that was before your time, this is a good way to learn about it. But Tyler goes after a girl out of his league. "Like way out," as Holly put it. He has to use all his charm, and a good deal of BS to win her over. Once he gets her, he becomes more taken with Debbie. His angst becomes the tent pole of the story—that and he has an incredible knack for digging himself into a hole. Not only is he trying to juggle two women, but he also joined the Navy under dubious circumstances and those circumstances are about to bite him in the ass.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
As I mentioned, I scrapped my first book and my tenth book is under revision (again). I hope to release it sometime in 2020.
What did you editoutof this book?
A lot. In total, I cut over 11,000 words since the first draft. Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
I have Googled the real Holly, Debbie, and Mark to see if I could find them to let them know they inspired a book. Sadly I came up empty in my searches—or perhaps it's just as well.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I've started a new novel and I'm going to write half of it from a female, first-person POV—and I will attempt this feat without a sex-change. Yep. Beta readers get ready.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I was in a Taco Bell in Honolulu with the real Holly. A few of my Navy buddies came in, and dragging me aside, asked if I wanted to go to Dirty Dan's—a strip joint. I glanced at Holly then whispered back that I couldn't go because I was on a date—and what's more, I didn't need to go because I was on a date. When I returned to the table, Holly stated: "I heard that." I apologized and let her know I told them to get lost. She said, "I've never been to a strip club. I'd like to check it out." So we went.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing articles for a website in 2006. In 2009/10 I wrote my first book, which I never published. I started Trouble Triangle in 2011 and published it in 2012.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I think of 2-3 main characters and start with them. Then I add characters as I need them. Mark was not planned when I began Trouble Triangle but I soon discovered that Tyler needed a friend to talk to. Especially writing in first person, I needed to get certain information to the readers. The only way I could do that without looking obvious was to give Tyler someone to talk to so details could be revealed through their conversation. Then halfway through the book, one of my writing partners commented that Tyler didn't display a lot of redeeming qualities. So I invented a homeless guy, Otto, that Tyler befriended and helped out. It gave him new depth and showed his caring side but it was totally unplanned.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I wouldn't call it research, but when I'm about to start a new book I think of 2 or 3 main characters I want to write about. And I let then resonate with me for a few weeks without writing a word. I develop them in my mind—mannerisms, quirks, personalities, hobbies, attributes, annoying habits, etc. Once that's formulated, I go on the internet and find pictures of them. For example, for my current novel, I Googled "Cute, slightly overweight, 24-year-old girl" and found my Lisa Knolls. Her, and "40-year-old good-looking blond male" (now Chad Dixon) are posted on the bulletin board over my desk and will remain there until I complete the novel. If I ever get writer's block, I will stare at the picture and mumble, "Come on, Lisa, what are you thinking."
What do you think about the current publishing market?
The greatest thing about Amazon is that anyone can publish a book.
The worst thing about Amazon is that anyone can publish a book.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
When I'm not writing I spend my time on critiquecircle.com, an online writing group that I've been a member of since 2011. It's alpha reading and critiquing other writers, many of them brand new. I enjoy helping other writers develop their skills as others had helped me. So it's not conventional reading but it does improve my skills as a writer examining the work of others. I can choose what to critique and it's categorized by genres. I zero in on the romance and suspense section. Most of the romance writers are women and they value my opinion in helping solidify their male characters.
You write a lot of romance yourself. Why's that?
It's the only time I can control what a woman thinks, says, and does.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise?
Dead silence. If anybody watched me write they'd think I was some kind of nut. Certain scenes I want to get the actions right. So I'm in my office placing imaginary headlocks on characters to accurately describe "I slung my arm around his neck, pulling my fist toward my ribcage with his big, fat head stuck in my man-made hoop of bicep and bone. His neck throbbed under my muscular contraction." And there I am sitting in my office with my arm hooped looking down at the empty hole I created with my arm.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Come on, I'm a guy. I'm not a multi-tasker.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
I develop crushes on all my female MCs, so they're all fun to me. In my third book, Forbidden Trouble, I gave Tyler another friend—Billy Earl McClure from Kentucky. I can't tell you how much fun I had writing Billy Earl. In one scene his division officer threatened to send him on special assignment to the Marine detachment onboard the ship. "Is that what you'd like, McClure?" She asked. "To be sent to spend time with the Marines?" Billy Earl hand-ironed the front of his shirt. "Noooo, ma'am," he replied. "A handsome devil like me? They might try to do unnatural things with me."
That still cracks me up
What advice would you give new authors?
Learn the craft. It's not enough to be a good storyteller, you have to be a good story show-er. And that takes practice and tuition. I hate it when I see writers brag about "I break all the rules." Often times it's because they don't know what the rules are or they're too lazy to find out or abide by them. In the first place, writing is creative so there are very few rules to break. And creativity should test the boundaries. But the craft should be respected. If one chooses to write first-person POV, one cannot simply switch to third person to convey information because it becomes too difficult to get certain facts across. That's not only breaking the rules, it's also cheating and shows a lack of skill by the author.
Another example I've seen of "breaking the rules" is when authors recite song lyrics. Titles cannot be copyrighted and I often use songs myself to set the mood. In Trouble Triangle, Tyler walked across the dance floor as The Go-Go's sang "Our Lips Are Sealed." (I love that song, BTW) But once you write beyond that, the writer is infringing upon copyrighted material and must get permission from the songwriter to print their work. That's the rule! No exceptions.
Are you a natural-born writer?
There's no such thing. There are natural-born storytellers, but writing is an acquired skill that one must learn and practice. Again, learn the craft.
Describe your writing style.
I've been told this several times and it doesn't offend me—in fact, quite the opposite. I have a very simple style. I don't go in for lavish descriptions and I rarely send people to the dictionary. It's uncomplicated writing. I class myself as a beach read writer. I'm also a lazy reader, which means I want to author to take me by the hand and lead me through the story with little thought required on my part. And that's how I write. Let me do the work as the author. Your job as a reader is to sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Do you model yourself after any other writers?
I come across this type of question often when querying agents. "Who do you write like?" I hate that question. I'm original, dammit. I even answered one agent by reciting Elvis's answer. In his early days, a recording studio boss asked him who he sang like. Elvis replied, "I don't sound like nobody." Well, I don't write like nobody. But since agents don't appreciate snarky replies, I came up with my answer: Think Mark Twain meets Sophie Kinsella.
What makes a good story?
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I don't outline and shoot from the hip. The downside of that is I have a lot of rewrites and do 10-15 drafts of any given book. And I have to write chronologically. I've tried skipping around and just can't do it. I go chapter by chapter, 1-30 in perfect sequence.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Thinking they can get away without proper editing. Family and friends reading a manuscript won't cut it. Ideally, although expensive, there's no substitute for a professional editor. But failing that, there are inexpensive and even free beta readers. Every manuscript needs experienced eyes cast upon it, and more than once.
What's your writing process?
It's long. Depending on other commitments and how much time I can dedicate to a book, 6-12 months. I'll write 2-4 drafts posting some chapters in my writers' group for feedback. Then I send it to at least three beta readers. Based on their feedback, I'll do another 2-4 drafts then send it to a professional editor. Back from her and I'll do another 3-4 drafts before sending it to three more beta readers. A few more drafts, then a proofreader, then hit publish. I'll write 10-15 drafts before it's fit for public consumption. And that process has been developed. Earlier in my career, I was more impatient and didn't spend as much time crafting the story. I couldn't wait to hit the publish button. Nowadays, I take more time and develop the story more fully. I have always been a good storyteller, now I'm a story-crafter.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I work to be original and don't write to the market. The trends move too fast. By the time I finished putting the girl in whips and chains the world is riding unicorns. I want to start the trend, not ride it.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
When I write from a first person narrative it's pretty easy. Everything is seen through Tyler's eyes so he doesn't know what the girls' motives are or what they're thinking. He can only report on what he sees and how they act. Much of like real life. In my last two novels, I wrote in third person and I rely on some super beta readers to let me know when I haven't captured a woman's thought pattern correctly.
How far do you take the sex scenes?
I felt Tyler's Trouble Trilogy was unique as they are male-written, male POV romances. How far to take the sex was a difficult decision. Trouble Triangle and Oceans of Trouble are explicit but non-penetrating. That being said, I've had reviews on TT that have branded it porn and smut. When I got to the third book, Forbidden Trouble, I wanted to test myself. I had a great story and added the throbbing, pulsating erotica bits. I received good reviews, but eventually decided that it didn't fit the same parameters as the previous two books. And when a girl writes sex, it's hot. When a guy writes sex, he's a perv. So I edited out the parts when he actually, well, you know, did it. A few years later, after reading some female authors writing graphic sex scenes, I knew mine were just as good if not better. And mine came from a guy (no pun intended—okay, yes there was). I re-released Forbidden Trouble as an 18+. New cover, same great story, but with graphic sex. I've received great feedback but not many willing to put their name to a review. Still, if you want to know what a guy really thinks about during sex it's all in FT 18+.
Do you take notice of your reviews?
Of course. I write to entertain and it's nice to get reassurance that I am achieving my goal. But not all reviews are ego-inflating and an author must accept the good with the not-so-good and hope that he or she gets more positive reviews than negative ones. But I treasure some of the not-so-good ones as well. Here's a three-star on Trouble Triangle (I'm surprised it wasn't one or two stars). The reviewer obviously didn't like it and I'm disappointed they didn't get the humor. But … I loved it! They hit the nail on the head.
*** "I am speechless about the book. Too many themes running at the same time -deceit, guilt, lust, infatuation, back stabbing, etc, etc. I did not find the humor in it."
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