When he’s not working happily juggling his responsibilities as a husband and father, and a day job to earn a living, J. Travis Grundon finds increments of time to write.
“These days it’s whenever I can,” he said. “I have little pieces of paper lying around here and there. I find time when I can.”
Grundon has writing and editing credits to his name, he’s been involved in some screenwriting, and he’s a regular contributor to “Rudo Can’t Fail,” a publication on Lucha Libre and Lucha Culture (Mexican professional wrestling).
He and a partner once owned and operated the Mockingbird Bookstore on First Street in Vincennes for a short time, and he was instrumental in founding a local community writers group. He consistently enters writing competitions, having twice earned runner-up status in the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine photo fiction contest.
He is working with Kaylee Jones, publisher of former Vincennes resident Patrick Redmond’s first novel “Some Go Hungry,” on potentially launching a horror genre imprint with her company. He has hopes that a horror novel he completed five years ago, “TERMS,” might be published in this way, but there are no confirmed plans on that.
Born in Pontiac, Ill., Grundon grew up on Olney and was graduated from Albion (Ill.) High School. He studied journalism and English at Vincennes University, where he learned valuable lessons and developed some life-long friendships. Grundon credits recently retired VU English professor Rebecca Mullen with helping him improve his writing skills.
“She gave me the tough love I needed as a writer,” he said. “One time she handed my paper back and told me that I could do better, that I needed to start again. I was blown away. Never had anyone talked to me that way about my writing. She knew I could do better. It was one of the best things that could have happened to me.”
The writer’s friendship with Rebecca and her husband Michael, also an English professor at VU, is what led to him establishing contact with Kaylee Jones. Michael Mullen has been on the board of the James Jones (author of From Here to Eternity) Literary Society for a number of years where he worked with the famed author’s daughter.
Grundon said his favorite genre is mystery and crime, and said he is currently at work on a three-part crime novel series. Two of the novels are written, he says, and a third is outlined. He is a graduate of author James Patterson’s Master Class, an intense online course in which work Grundon produced for various exercises has been incorporated into his own novels.
He has always liked to read, but when he was a child Grundon mostly read comic books. In fact drawing comics is what he thought he really wanted to do. But he had to have the writing to go along with his comics, so he did both.
“In time I realized that I was a much better writer than an artist,” he said. “So I began to write all the time. I hardly ever draw now.”
He has published two volumes of short stories, “Eclectic Collection,” a mixture of horror and science-fiction thrillers, and “Happy Hour Blues,” a compilation of which he is particularly proud.
“This is a collection of 12 stories and each one has an adult beverage recipe that accompanies it,” he said.
He has written and published more stories, too, along with a now out-of-print novel titled “Mr. Bad Example.” A Kindle version of the book is available on Amazon.com. “Mr. Bad Example” is about a wine drinker who falls in love with a girl next door, but whose shortcomings and bad choices lead him on a spiraling downward path to destruction.
He admits that his influences include Stephen King – at least in the beginning – but he says other work by authors he admires include James Jones, Don Winslow, Andrew Vash, Raymond Carver, and John F. D. Taff, a dark fiction writer.
“Taff is the best writer people haven’t heard of,” Grundon said.
He is most proud of having helped edit (with L.B. Goddard) “The Anthology of the Living Dead,” by the late Forrest J. Ackerman, who was a renowned science fiction magazine editor, writer, and a leading authority on science fiction, horror, and fantasy. The anthology that Grundon helped edit is difficult to come by; copies on Amazon.com are over $100 and up.
His interest in Lucha Libre (which means free fight in Spanish) developed while growing up. At age 15 Grundon talked his dad into signing a permission slip to allow him to take professional wrestling lessons.
“I was actually a professional wrestler for a short while,” he said. “But I hurt my back when I was 17 and I never did it again. I did referee, some stage coordinating and some writing about it.”
Lucha Libre is characterized by the masks wrestlers wear, and the theatrics that accompany a performance. The wrestlers themselves, or the characters they represent, are like legendary super heroes.
“It’s very family-oriented,” Grundon said. “A lot of the people involved are the third and fourth generations of doing this. The masks, though, are iconic. I even collect them.”
His blog, “J. Travis Grundon Dot Com,” indicates that he would like to leave Indiana as soon as possible, probably for a larger market where there are considerably more networking opportunities among writers and publishers. A city (such as St. Louis where he lived for a short time), he said, also provides more material for stories.
For now, though, Grundon is happy spending quality time with his family, raising his 14-year-old daughter Lily, and his eighth-month-old son Briar. While it may be tough to find time for his writing, he credits his wife Stormi for helping him carve out time in a busy schedule.
“I have a loving and supporting wife who knows what I can do,” he said. “She’s also my biggest critic, but she wants to lift me up. She helps make time for me to write.”
By Bernie Schmitt