It's my pleasure to introduce Author Travis Casey. His new release RV There Yet?: The True Story of a Motoring Nightmare is a laugh-out-loud memoir, and he's graciously agreed to give us the scoop on this hilarious adventure!
Welcome, Travis. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I have written nine books so far, six novels and three memoirs. Seven of the books are available on Amazon, the other two are still being edited. But sometimes I struggle. All my books are set in America, or at least have an American POV. As I am American myself, that should be no big deal, right? However, I joined the navy in 1982, spent four years in Hawaii, then five years in Scotland. Once out of the navy, I lived in Seattle for eighteen months before moving to England with my British-born, Australia raised, wife in 1992. I wrote my first novel in 2011 set in the American navy, and my test readers all complained that I wasn't using American English. I had been Anglicized and my phrasing and slang was of a British nature. So I always use American editors.
In 2014 my wife and I returned to the United States to look after my parents. I was working on my fourth novel at the time, but dealing with the bureaucracy of trying to re-immigrate to the States became comical—so I stopped the book and wrote my first memoir, Foreigner In My Own Backyard. After four years in the States, we did all we could do for Mom & Dad, so we returned to England, but not until I completed my ill-judged ambition. I had been to 47 states. I decided on my exit, we should buy a second-hand RV and drive it to Florida, being sure to pass through Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama so I could stake claim to the boast that I have been to all 50 states! And I did it—but I had the Suicide Helpline on speed dial.
I know you’re an Author of Light-Hearted Fiction and Satirical Memoirs. A memoir puts your life out there for the world to see. Was that a difficult decision to make?
In one respect memoirs are easier to write than novels because I know the outcome. I can write a memoir relatively quickly because I'm not thinking up plot lines. Humor is a main staple in all my writing—novels and memoirs. I not only laugh at others, but I'm also able to laugh at myself. I really wasn't going to write RV There Yet? because it was an emotionally painful journey. I just wanted to forget it. But in real life, I'm a pretty good storyteller. The more stories I told our friends about the journey, the more they would encourage me to write a book about it. Once I formed some scar tissue, I sat down and wrote the book in about 45 days—then spent three months in the editing stages.
What motivates you to write?
I consider myself an in-print entertainer. I would love to have been a comedian, but I not quick-witted enough to perform on stage. Insult me today, and yes, by tomorrow, I'll have the perfect comeback. But it takes me time to develop the one-liner, retorts or a hilarious quip. And then I may redraft it 10-15 times. I love the challenge of stringing tens of thousands of words together in a coherent, cohesive, entertaining, and logical way. Except for memoirs. They do not have to follow logic, as you will find out if you read RV There Yet?
Without giving away too many details, what was the funniest moment of the trip?
Here's an excerpt. We had already broken down like five times on the journey by the time we hit Mississippi. Erring on the side of avoidance of another disaster, we thought we best get an oil change. Then the guy tried to sell me six new tires:
At 1:30 p.m. they drove our RV into the bay. At 1:45 Allen sat down with us.
"We got a little problem with the oil filter. There's two kinds of filters for those engines. You got the funny kind. It's a little more expensive, and it's not one we carry in stock."
What were the chances of us owning the RV with the odd oil filter? Yes, my thoughts exactly: 100 percent. There could never be any other outcome.
I fought back tears.
Wendy didn't. She let it rip.
Allen seemed puzzled by our massive depression and tears over a minor setback. "Don't worry, folks—it's not that odd. We'll get you on the road as soon as we can."
He disappeared, then sat with us again about 2:30 to let us know the part had arrived and they were fitting it. It was somewhat comforting that the owner of this busy shop sat with us to explain what was happening. I think Wendy's tears startled him, and he sensed there was more behind the story than a simple oddball filter. Allen seemed genuine that he wanted to get us to Florida safely.
"Have you thought about new tires?" he asked.
"No, I have not."
"I think you should."
"No, they're fine," I insisted. "I checked the tread myself when we bought it. Tires don't wear out in two thousand miles. The tread's fine."
He nodded. "Yep, the tread's fine, but those tires are old."
My voice squeaked. "What?" I drew a breath and folded my arms. "So what? I don't care. All they have to do is get us to Florida. Surely they got another few hundred miles left in 'em."
"It's not a tread issue. All tires are stamped with a date of manufacture. I'll show you later. Those tires are thirteen years old. What happens is the rubber compound breaks down. When they disintegrate, it opens like a zipper on the side walls, and they just come undone. You must've seen the tire remnants on the highway. Whole tires ripped apart."
Okay, the guy sounded like he knew what he was talking about. But he was a tire salesman. It was not only his job to sell me tires, it was his livelihood.
Allen nodded toward the RV. "That thing's been in Minnesota, right?"
"Those tires have been sitting in minus-forty-degree weather. Now you're rolling on hot tarmac in one-hundred-and-ten-degree heat. It's changed the molecular structure of the rubber. It's brittle." He eyed me in a moment of sincerity. "Have you ever had a tire blow out on the interstate?"
I shook my head.
"If you ever have one of those suckers blow at seventy miles an hour, you're gonna need more than a new tire. You're gonna need a new pair of pants 'cause you're gonna shit yourself."
I clenched my butt cheeks.
What was your most memorable moment of the trip?
Elvis' home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee—but for all the wrong reasons.
Would you ever consider taking another RV journey?
No, absolutely not. Never. How dare you ask me that question. Read the book!
LOL. Okay, just for fun—if you had one superpower during this trip, what would it have been and why?
To have been an RV Mechanic.
That is funny! Thanks for being my guest!
Readers, your retweets and reviews are always appreciated!
It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense—Mark Twain
After selling their Minnesota home, Travis and Wendy plan an elaborate departure from the United States before repatriating themselves to the UK. Buying a second-hand RV, visiting states unknown, and selling the campervan after reaching Florida seems like the perfect exit. So they pack their lives and blind Shih Tzu into a once-luxurious thirty-one-foot RV and hit the open road.
As they roll through the Midwest, heading for the Deep South, they soon discover “RV” doesn't mean “Reliable Vehicle.” Historical sites give way to repair shops and the excitement of the once-in-a-lifetime trip quickly turns into apprehension of what's around the next corner. With the wheels literally coming off the wagon, bogus repairs, temperatures rising inside the RV and under the hood, sleeping in junkyards, and being laughed at by the Mississippi police, the once-happy couple just want the nightmare to end so they can return to England. But the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles has the final say as to when they can leave.
Of course it's a true story. You couldn't make it up.