JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Arthur J Gonzalez, author of The Photo Traveler
Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care. This meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father.
He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images. But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!
His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials. Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write “The Photo Traveler”?
Arthur J Gonzalez: One of the most important people in my life was facing a difficult time when their grandmother passed away. It affected him in such a deep way that it consequently affected me.
I remember him crying, staring at an old black and white photo of his grandmother in Havana, Cuba. He held it, staring at it like she was talking back to him. He said, “I’d give anything to travel into this picture right now and hug her.”
I jumped off the couch, my mind spinning in every direction. “What if you could?” From that moment, “The Photo Traveler” was born. It was perfect. It was as if she and my father plotted in the Heavens to gift me “The Photo Traveler”.
JP: What sets “The Photo Traveler” apart from other books in the same genre?
AJG: What I find different about “The Photo Traveler” is that at its core is a story about a boy searching for something, somewhere that he belongs. I think we’ve all felt that way at some point in our lives – everyone. And I think it makes this story, beyond the adventure, relatable and authentic.
And on top of that, it’s a way to imagine a life where we’d have an opportunity to go back and relive something that didn’t happen the way we may have wanted. What would that look like? It, in some ways, answers the question so often asked: “If you can go back and change something in your life, what would it be?”
Gavin gets the experience this exact scenario. He is given the opportunity to go back and have a relationship with his parents; something that was taken from him. Who wouldn’t want that? “The Photo Traveler” also illustrates another point: everything comes with a price.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to “The Photo Traveler” getting out to the public?
AJG: First and foremost, there needs to be a relentless belief in yourself. Even if you are insecure or scared, you must believe that there is no other way for you. You cannot accept anything less than what you have dreamed of.
Second, you need to be completely committed to your book and story. Take your time. Know your characters better than you know your very self.
Also, connect with your readers. Understand what they want and how your stories can inspire them and generate emotional attachments.
Lastly, do your research. Know what’s available. Think outside the box for promoting your book. Never expect that success will be given to you. Work for it. Achieve it. Earn it.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish “The Photo Traveler”?
AJG: I usually lock myself in my room and make sure I have an endless supply of coffee. I’ll turn on some music. I don’t know why, but I tend to play a station on Pandora called “‘Nature Sounds”. The sounds bring me peace and clarity.
My actual writing processes differ. Sometimes it’s very structured. I will start with outlining the chapters, character analysis, etc. More frequently, I will just write, write, write. I’ll force myself to stop if that “inspiration” just isn’t there. You can’t force it.
The initial draft of “The Photo Traveler” took me one month to complete. But it’s been in the editing process for a year. It has transformed into something monstrous, compared to what it was one year ago.
JP: What’s next for Arthur J Gonzalez?
AJG: Well, hopefully somewhere in a Best Seller’s category! 😉
But in the mean time I’ll be writing the sequel to “The Photo Traveler”, called “The Peace Hunter”. It will be absolutely amazing. I’m also working on three other novels. I feel a little crazy, but I love it. All I have to say is: lots of coffee, lots and lots of coffee.
“I really, really hope, above it all, that I’m able to give someone just a few hours of mental escape. (And you should know, I’m being laughed at as I write this because I sometimes (or always) pronounce “escape” as ‘Ex-cape”.)
And thank you, to everyone who has ever believed in me.
Pops, this is for you. I couldn’t do it without you, and I’ll know you gave me the strength and courage to do this, while you watch me from up above. I love you. No, I love you more!” ~ Authur J. Gonzalez