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Congratulations!  Your short story was selected as a Runner Up in the 2016 Haunted Waters Press Fiction & Poetry Open!  What inspired you to write "Carver Farm?" 

  1. I live in Maine, which is an absolute feast for source material for people who like to tell stories. The infrastructure is old, and you can just sense and feel the history around you. And whether it's an old house on the ocean or a two hundred year old barn alone on a long stretch of potato country, there's always this undercurrent of spookiness if you want to find it - especially when September and October roll around. Last September I was driving to Northern Maine and passing through some of the remote small towns on Route 1, just enjoying the sights, and thinking about some of the people who live in those homes. just kind of letting the stories take over. And I was also thinking about how tough it would be for a stubborn older person who refuses to leave such a rural, falling down old house (there are plenty of people - and houses - like the ones in my story in Maine) and all of a sudden the story was there. 


What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?

  1. I love writing short and long form fiction - I published my first novel earlier this year, it's a fun adventure comedy about tracking down pirate treasure in Maine (think Goonies for grownups), and I have a couple other novel plans in mind. I lean toward the lighthearted, comedic stuff; I think people can really use it these days. For years I've written humorous letters to large companies, either complaining about something or commending them for their service, or sharing a bizarre business idea. At first I didn't post them online; I thought it was a lot funnier to imagine that it was a private laugh someone in a cubicle on the other side of the country might have, or might pass around at work to their friends. But I did eventually start posting them. Most of the short stories I write are funny too, or at least are trying to be. You can find all the stuff I've put out there at traviskennedy.com.


Where do you find your ideas and inspiration?

  1. I'm blessed (or cursed!) with having stories jump out at me in my head all day long. It's like a faucet that never turns off. I'll see a normal, run of the mill thing happening, and immediately my brain will say "but what if THIS happened next?" So the inspiration comes from everywhere, often without any warning - last year I was pulling in my driveway and just before I turned the corner, out of nowhere this vivid image of a gorilla on the roof of my house popped up in my head. So I went inside and wrote the story. It can be exhausting; I've started dictating the ideas into my phone when they come so I can let them go until I'm ready to visit them later. 


How long have you been writing?

  1. Oh God, forever. As soon as I could hold a pencil. I won a poetry contest in second grade, and that was such a huge confidence boost at just the right age that I never stopped.


What is your writing day like?

  1. When I was writing my book is was wonderfully structured, which I quickly realized it needed to be. Three to four hours, four or five days a week, sitting in the same spot, no interruptions. I think the fact that I was writing one long story for five months made that necessary. But my wife and I welcomed our daughter into the world in November, and since then it's been "whenever I get the chance and can keep my eyes open!" Unfortunately I haven't really had the chance to sit down and focus on writing much this year; but I will be back!


Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

  1. I read a lot of Elmore Leonard and Stephen King, and although I don't generally write within their genres I really identify with their philosophy on writing: tell your story directly, have faith that the audience is getting it (don't over-explain), rarely use adverbs, and so on. I love Dennis Lehane. I used to read Dave Barry a lot growing up. And strangely, I've only just now discovered Carl Hiassen, after several friends have told me my style (in the novel, anyway) is really similar to his. 


What are you reading right now?

  1. I just read "Before the Fall" by Noah Hawley. It was great, I couldn't put it down.


What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?

  1. On his last night on NBC, Conan O'Brien said, "Don't be cynical. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere... If you work hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen." I posted that quote on the wall of my office years ago as a constant reminder, and it's completely true. 


Where can we find other works from Sarah Wheeler? 

  1. You can find my first novel, "Booty," on Amazon in Kindle or paperback. You can also get the paperback on Createspace. You can find links to my short stories and letters at my website, traviskennedy.com


What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?

  1. The ideas are piling up WAY faster than I can write them right now; but I do think I'm about ready to get started on another novel, it's just going to take me a really long time to write it with the small windows I have. I'm one of those people who is really uncomfortable talking about what I'm about to write - or currently writing - until the first draft is done. I feel like it's this super fragile little ecosystem that I'm building, and if I let anyone peek into it it will collapse. But I can say that the way I'm picturing it is sort of three closely related novellas about the same community, taking place in three very different eras.


If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?

  1. Just write. I know that sounds cliche and not like "advice" at all, but it's really that simple. If you love doing it, don't obsess over getting your timeline perfect first, or doing all your research, or carving out the ideal time in your life. Just sit down and start writing what's in your head, the rest will come together on its own.





Travis Kennedy was born in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire and grew up in Buxton, Maine. He is the one who invented the term "no shoes, no shirt, no problem." Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. He attended the University of Maine, graduating in 2001 with a degree in political science, and has worked in state and federal government since 2004. He does not write about politics, however, because he doesn't feel like writing about work in his spare time. People harass him about politics enough when he's just trying to drink beer and watch the Patriots.

Instead he writes about fun stuff, like pirate treasure or haunted houses in his home state of Maine.

Kennedy lives in Scarborough, Maine with his wife Liv, and their daughter, Ella.

 

Direct from the pages of the literary journal, From the Depths, Penny Dreadful's select works of exceptionally small flash fiction are now showcased within the HWP Penny Poster Collection.


Featured in this round of Penny Fiction: Nick Almeida, Richard Chetwynd, Sarah Vernetti, M. E. Wilding, K.L. Cobb, Lee DeAmali, Craig Gist, Jason R. Furtak, Lisa Reily, Janet Stevenson, Bill Teitelbaum, Jennifer Ruth Jackson, Debra Hurst, V.C. McCabe, Adam Barron, Swati Mahapatra, Bryce Worrell, Elane Johnson, Kizzi Roberts, Karen Lettice, Heather MacDonald, Erin O'Shea, J.D. Bretton, Joe Bogle, Brian Beatty, Marie H. Mittmann, and Matthew Vasiliauskas

Penny Fiction

Flash Fiction Writing Competition 2016: