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Author Spotlight: Julie Travis

Author Photo: Julie Travis

Julie Travis’ ‘transgenre’ fiction has been published in the independent press in the UK and North America for the last twenty-five years. After playing bass guitar in several punk bands, she co-founded the Queeruption international festival, has been an occasional album photographer for avantgarde band UNIT and recently co-founded Dead Unicorn Ventures, an LGBT+ events company in West Cornwall that has just published issue 1 of its zine, Dykes Ink, and held its debut event. Find her at

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Talking with Julie Travis

How long have you been writing for, and what did you start with?

I began writing horror fiction in the early 1990s and was lucky enough to sell a story, (Jump From A Speeding Car) almost immediately. It was published in REM magazine in 1992 and it caused a bit of a stir. Interzone rather slated it. And slated me into the bargain for writing it. I thought my ‘career’ was over before it had begun. I certainly arrived on the scene with a splash! Looking back, it was a rather naïve piece of shock-horror but I learned a lot from the experience and made contact with a number of other contemporary horror writers of the time.

What unique perspective do you feel you can bring to your chosen genre(s)?

I grew up watching Hammer Horror films and reading gothic horror short stories. Not unique, of course, but I’ve also had countless experiences of the paranormal, so I’ve always been immersed in horror and, it should be said, cryptozoology, Forteana and folklore. When I began writing, I wasn’t seeing many positive female characters in films or books, so the emergence of Clive Barker, who did feature 3D female characters, was massive. His work made me believe I was capable of adding something positive to the genre. I came out as lesbian not long after I started writing and it’s likely that I have Asperger’s. I was in a punk band in my youth, I’ve been involved in political activism, so I have many angles to approach the genre from.    

What are tropes that you are aiming to subvert in your writing for your latest book?

I’ve always focused on minority groups for my protagonists and I don’t portray them as victims, especially women. This isn’t ‘box ticking’ on my part – I’m in various minority groups myself and my lived experience is of being in or among those communities. In general my main bugbear is characters who will survive if they can just make it through the night. This may be a metaphor but I find it banal. Terrible things can happen to people at any time of day!

What do you look for in characters, whether it be writing or reading them?

I want to believe that everyone is, or can be, extraordinary. My favourite characters are those with a peculiar view of the world. J G Ballard came up with characters who were very understated but completely weird. A few years back I read a couple of novels by Anna Kavan. Her work features characters driven by their own strangeness and obsessions. I was interested to see that she predates Ballard, so it was clear to me that he was very influenced by her.

Writers are heavily influenced by their surroundings, whether it be what they’ve read or watched. What have been some of your most *recent* influences?

Leonora Carrington, without a doubt, for her writing and her art. And the female Surrealists and Occultists (ie Dion Fortune, Ithell Colquhoun). I’m sure I’m currently being influenced by the pandemic, but as much from the fear of how much freedom’s being taken from us as by the virus itself. I live quite a reclusive life but I’ve found lockdown extremely claustrophobic.

If you could get one famous director behind the helm of your recent work to adapt it for the big screen, who would it be? Why?

It would have to be Clive Barker. I haven’t read much of his more recent work but his early stuff is amazing. He’s my biggest influence and I still very much believe in him. His passion for the fantastique would be perfect for my story and his being gay means I think he would get where I’m coming from. I know his health has been terribly poor in recent years; I hope he’s around for a while longer.

If you enjoy fancasting, feel free to fancast your latest work here. Bonus points for reasons why you chose *those* particularly actors/actresses.

Probably an obvious choice but Tilda Swinton would have to play the Golden Sea Captain, she has the right amount of ethereal androgyny required for the role and I’m a longtime fan. I don’t have anyone particularly in mind for Zanders but Salma Hayek might make an excellent Bird Woman – she has a strong, serious air about her.

What is the theme of your most recent release? Was it something you consciously thought about prior to starting writing, or did it develop as your story did? (IE: Discovery writer or Plotter?!)

I’m mostly a discovery writer. Tomorrow… came about from another story called Beautiful Silver Spacesuits (from We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth, Wapshott Press, 2018), which mentioned the Golden Sea Captain in passing, but the character grabbed me. Her name suggested so many things. Having experienced two difficult bereavements in the last few years, I’ve been writing about death and the afterlife, which is one of the themes of this story, but I didn’t have much idea of what was going to happen in Tomorrow… apart from having connected with the Golden Sea Captain. I should say here that loss is a terrible thing. It’s the price one pays for love, of course, and my belief in the afterlife doesn’t diminish that fact. I’m just convinced that death isn’t the end of existence. What comes next? I’ve come to the conclusion that some consciousness must remain. Many people experience visits from their departed loved ones. I’ve had this happen and it’s a profound thing. But I had no idea how the tale would unfold. It’s as if I’m only given the story a piece at a time.

I like to give authors a chance to shout out other up and coming authors that they want to support. Who else should people be reading along with you?

To my shame I read very little fiction, I just can’t concentrate on it. I do know a fair few writers in the horror/slipstream/weird genres, but they’re all quite high profile, award winning writers and so anyone reading this will probably know of them already!

Do you believe in the things you write about?

Very much so. My theory is that I’m tuning in to other frequencies and writing down what happens there, so I’m not actually inventing/imagining very much. And perhaps this is not so far-fetched, bearing in mind that science now appears to believe in multiple universes. We are surrounded by things we cannot see or hear, but sometimes they break through to our world and sometimes we go to theirs. Because of this, I’m not aware of using metaphors – everything is quite literal in my stories. A monster is a monster! And I’ve met a few human monsters in my time, of course.


This was the home of the Mujer de Aves – the Bird Woman, explained The Golden Sea Captain. She was a herbalist, wise woman and witch, and held in reverence by the local people, who came to her with many questions. The Mujer de Aves was their best hope for information about Lorena Alvarez.

The Golden Sea Captain was about to announce their presence when the door, fashioned from dead tree trunks, opened and the Bird Woman appeared. Zanders chided herself for expecting a wizened old woman, a cartoon of a witch; the Bird Woman was younger than herself – in her mid-30s, Zanders guessed – and quite strikingly beautiful. She tied her hair back and held up a hand in a strange gesture of welcome.

The Golden Sea Captain spoke to her in Spanish for a few moments, then the Bird Woman nodded.

“I speak enough English for you,” she said, raising her arm a little higher. Her shawl slipped off her arm, revealing tiny, stubbly feathers – or tattoos of feathers. The woman’s hand, open, palm up, began to melt. A drop stretched and fell from her fingers. Zanders covered her mouth to stop from screaming and gasped with relief when The Golden Sea Captain murmured, “Honey”. There was movement among the trees and a pair of hummingbirds appeared. They were the most amazing birds Zanders had ever seen; their bodies seemed to be made of green metal, and they had bright yellow wings and yellow bands around their necks. Their heads were hooded in shining black feathers and huge eyes peered at the Bird Woman’s dripping hand. They hovered close by, tongues flicking from long beaks, lapping up the offered feast.

The Bird Woman gazed at the hummingbirds as she addressed Zanders.

“I see you have Death around you, circling, the loss of those you loved. You loved them so dearly you thought it would protect them but they died anyway and you thought it was because your love wasn’t strong enough to save them. And so your world and your body fell apart – you had no option but to come here.”

Zanders was impressed, although she was aware her body language could tell an observant person all of these things.

The Bird Woman beckoned with her free hand. “You need to build up your strength,” she said. “Come, take some honey.”

And Zanders stood alongside the hummingbirds and lapped honey from the witch’s hand.

Published inInterviews
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