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Guest Interview with Rob Shackleford, Author of Traveller Inceptio

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it to a possible past?

I'm pleased to welcome Rob Shackleford, Author of Traveller Inceptio, to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Traveller Inceptio is a mix of science fiction and historical fiction that examines how members of 21st Century Western society could survive the world of the 11th Century.

I was inspired one day when I sat on a beach imagining how the location would have looked 100, then 200, then 1000 years in the past. Fortunately I lived close to the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and the exercise of imagining the location before resorts, powerlines and phone towers brought to mind a very different world. 

The next step in the tale was to imagine how modern humans would survive ‘back then’. Then – how was this leap of imagination possible?

Traveller Inceptio (Latin for Beginning) examines what could happen if such an accidental discovery was not hidden from public view. How would a device that takes one back a thousand years be used? Where would one go? In a world where historians are not like Indiana Jones, who would be sent?

I took every effort to thoroughly research any role the military might play, the consequences of inevitable bureaucratic and political interference, and the world of the Saxons in 11th Century England. England was chosen because of the interests of the nations involved in the research that developed the device, called the Transporter, and the attempt to access a place that might be safest for the Travellers, the title of the researchers involved.

Traveller Inceptio examines the interactions of the Travellers with local Saxons and their efforts to integrate into the village of a people of the great forest. This was the time of the Viking invasions, an unsettled time of conflict.

Through it all I tried to make the Saxons human and examine how they would interact with a highly trained soldier from the 21st Century. 

The reviews of Traveller Inceptio have been overwhelmingly positive. For those of you who delve into this tale, I thank you and hope you enjoy.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I start my day with a walk with my lady love, then write for a few hours. Because I have dedicated my life to writing for the past years, if we are not travelling I try to write for at least four hours each day. There is also research of course, which is my excuse to travel.  Morning is my best writing time, though I do tend to write whenever the desire grabs me.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

That is tough, because much in writing is about your own personal confidence and desires.

My first piece of advice is to start writing, no matter what. Too many believe they must have the whole story before writing starts, while I find the story develops as I write. It’s like painting, or weaving a rich tapestry with words. Like a journey, it starts with the courageous first step.

Second is to not worry about what everyone else thinks. Writing is like running: you have to practice to get good at it. I find the process of writing and rewriting allows me to get better. Just go for it and let your creativity shine.

Third: Never be happy with the first draft. I always go back through the story, the words, the creative writing many, many times. It might feel like an OCD thing, and that is what makes writing so personal. My format will be different to everyone else. Find your way and follow it.

Fourth – and the hardest. Be prepared to be disappointed at criticism. As my first book, Traveller Inceptio was self-published, critiqued, then edited. My first British editor metaphorically tore off my arm and beat me over the head with it. Wiping away my tears I followed his advice in most areas, reduced the draft by 50,000 words, sent it out for review and received positive response and 5 star reviews. My head still hurts though.

Fifth – have a market in mind. Writing is a creative art, but selling books is strictly a marketing endeavour. I aim to become an author that sells. That is my goal. For any writing to sell it must appeal to a market, to a slice of humanity who likes what you produce. Publishers only seek what will sell and then leave it to you to create the market for them. Gone are the days of offering a new author a million dollar contract. Yes, it’s a tough gig.

What ways have you found to raise awareness of your books?

I have a publisher who is engaged in publicity, but my efforts are as follows:

1.     I have given my book to interested parties who read and spread the word because they enjoyed what they read. Readers love the gift of a book.

2.     Social media – I hate social media, but you have to repeatedly tell the world what you are doing, what your book is doing, and become a specialist on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Not my favourite thing as I am not a great self-promoter when it comes to the trivial. But the world loves it, so I must get better at it!

3.     Contact Bloggers and try to connect with people who like reading my style of books. By connecting with like minds, we can support each other. It is a very large global community.

4.     Submit my book to be reviewed by Book Reviewers. This is scary!

5.     Submit Traveller Inceptio to Sci Fi magazines and other publications.

This is a movable feast! If anyone has any more helpful, great ideas, please feel free to let me know. I am making this up as I go along.

Tell us something unexpected you uncovered during your research

I found that with Traveller Inceptio I had to research extensively about the relevant subject matters: the Special Forces of Australia, Great Britain, the USA and Canada, the Saxon people, and the great forests of England. Once I immersed myself into the subject matter, sometimes odd things happened.

On more than one occasion I found the story running in a direction I didn’t expect, where I would go, “Wow, I didn’t know that was going to happen!” While this is probably a creative process many might experience, I found that most surprising. It was only possible for me when I had the material assembled by research.

Rob Shackleford

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About the Author

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places. With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas. Rob is father of two and lives on the Gold Coast, where he likes to scuba dive, play the djembe, look at the stars, and play in the surf. Find out more at and find Rob on Facebook and Twitter @robshackleford
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