Broken by Travis Thrasher
Travis Thrasher

Travis Thrasher is the author of thirteen diverse novels including Ghostwriter and Broken, which releases May 25. He is known for his complex characters and his surprising twists. Having worked in the publishing industry of over a dozen years in author relations, Travis has been a full-time novelist since 2007. He and his family live in a Chicago suburb.

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Writing Broken

“Everything is broken. Everyone is broken.”

Those lyrics from a 1995 Radiohead song were a starting point. That and the image of a young woman.

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Writing a novel is and yet never will be a mechanical process. The mechanics come in the rituals of making coffee, sitting down in a chair, and starting to type. But how each of my novels has come to life has always been different. Sometimes it begins with a premise. Sometimes it starts with the end.

With Broken, it started with that young woman.

I could have put her in a variety of stories. And I tried. I really tried.

Initially I was going to write a story about a young woman who tries to kill herself at the start of the book. After she fails, she begins to slowly put the pieces of her life back together with the help of a man she falls in love with. That and the prayers of her father, who died when she was young.

That sounds like a love story, Travis.

After writing about a hundred pages of that particular story, I ended up discarding it and breaking up its core into two very different stories. One was a love story that was a love letter to my daughter. That came out late last year.

Broken is definitely not that book. It’s the story of that broken young woman named Laila and her journey toward hope.

Instead of a love story, I put Laila in a harrowing journey of escape. I tried to build on my two previous supernatural thrillers while creating a story that’s fresh and stands on its own. I continue to write dark stories with characters who are, hopefully, authentic and storylines that are, hopefully, surprising. I also tried writing a bit differently, cutting out italics and interior monologue to create a fast-paced and tight tale.

There’s never a right way or an ideal way. There’s trial and error.

With Broken, I tried to change things up while continuing to add to my current line of thrillers.

So is Broken a scary story?

The scariest thing to me is that God-shaped hole that each of us has. We all try to fill it with something. So often we fail.

Few people get a chance to look deep inside that hole to see what lies there. That is a terrifying thought. That is the journey I took with Broken.

Yet even though I realized I knew who the character was and what the journey was headed toward, I never expected the outcome. It came in the middle of the story in a shocking way.

It makes sense now that I look back, but not when I started. If I had plotted meticulously or retread familiar steps, I don’t think I would have gone down the road I did. If I hadn’t tossed out that early story and rethought the concept, I don’t think I would have had two great stories to show for it.

That’s the beauty of creating, and the great fortune I have in my job. I learn a little more with each journey I take. About both my craft and myself.