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A Journey Through History: An Interview with Travis Davis, Award-Winning Author of 'One of Four'


One of four: A book by Travis Davis


In this exclusive interview, I had the privilege of sitting with Travis Davis, the acclaimed and award-winning author of One of Four: World War One Through the Eyes of an Unknown Soldier. Davis has captivated readers with his ability to weave intricate historical details into compelling narratives. In "One of Four," he brings to life the harrowing experiences of soldiers during World War I through the eyes of the Unknown soldier. Join me as Davis shares his inspirations, challenges, and the meticulous research that went into crafting this remarkable story.


Before we start, here is a short trailer of Travis’s award-winning book, One of Four.







Author interview with Travis Davis


George Mehok: Can you tell me about your background and what inspired you to become a writer?


Travis Davis: Sure. I was an Air Force brat who grew up in Arkansas, Spain, New York, and California. I joined the US Army at seventeen years old as an Armored Reconnaissance Specialist and was stationed in the various forts in the United States and Germany, where he met my beautiful wife.


I’m a software engineer by profession. I’ve been working in the tech industry for over thirty years now. I started off with a small startup and gradually moved to bigger companies. I’m retired. My last position was with a leading tech firm in Silicon Valley. I’ve been fascinated by computers and technology since I was a kid. I used to tinker with old computers, trying to understand how they worked. This curiosity led me to pursue computer science in college, and eventually, I decided to make a career out of it. As for writing, it’s something I stumbled into. I quit high school, and it wasn't until much later that I began to appreciate the power of storytelling.


George Mehok: What inspired you to write 'One of Four'? Was there a particular event or story that sparked the idea?


Travis Davis: The idea for "One of Four" came from my deep respect and fascination with the stories of unknown soldiers. During my time in the military, I saw firsthand the sacrifices made by soldiers, and I wanted to capture that in a way that was both respectful and engaging. The concept of an unknown soldier resonated with me because it represents so many untold stories of bravery and sacrifice. My son suggested adding the father-son dynamic, which I felt was perfect to connect the past with the present.


My son lives in Northern Virginia. I've been to the tomb of the unknown soldier multiple times, and I think it is just so moving. I wanted to tell the story without degrading or any kind of desecration to the soldiers buried in the tomb. But I wanted to write the story of the soldier because the main character has no attributes. There's nothing.


George Mehok: Who is he?


Travis Davis: I don't know. I don't know what he looks like. I don't know how tall he is. I don't know anything about him. I want the reader to visualize who they think that person is, and that is the person that could be lying at rest in the tomb and the unknown soldier. He's brave, he loves his men, he's a soldier, he's a patriot, he's caring, he's a God-fearing man.


George Mehok: How did how did your military career influence the book?


Travis Davis: I let some folks read the book before it was, you know, put out ARC copies, and I got one comment back from somebody who really trusts his, his judgment and, and everything he writes about books, he goes, this is a book about leadership. And I didn't intend to write like that, but it's a book about leadership. However, I wrote it from the perspective of an NCO, not as an officer.


I know how to lead, but I'm not from the officer's perspective. I know what NCOs do. So, I wrote it from the perspective of the NCO. And I was a scout in the Army. So I've, you know, called artillery and flew in helicopters and all that stuff. I've done a lot of things. So, I was able to translate that into World War One because leadership is leadership. No matter what, what war it is. You’ve got to care for your man. You have to lead. You sometimes have to put emotions away to be able to do the mission. So that's how that's how I wrote it


George Mehok: Historical fiction requires a lot of research. Can you share some insights into your research process for this book?


Travis Davis: Absolutely. I spent countless hours researching World War I, including reading books, PDFs, and historical accounts from the era. I also traveled to key locations mentioned in the book, like Paris, Meuse Argonne National Cemetery, battlefields, and Chalone – Sur Marne in France. I wanted to get a sense of the places and the atmosphere. I wanted the book to be as authentic as possible, so I consulted with historians and visited museums to ensure that every detail was accurate. My wife, who is German, and my experiences in Germany also helped me understand the European perspective during the wars.

I spent nine years in Germany on three different tours. In the first one, I was in the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment, Third Squadron. Our mission was to patrol the Czechoslovakian border. While I was assigned to the 3/7th Cav, 3rd ID I saw firsthand what communism does and the effects of war because you look at East Germany, just not modernized at all. And then you go to West Germany. It was like watching a black-and-white movie. Then, it turns into color. And so, you can see the effects of war.


George Mehok: How did you develop the characters in 'One of Four'? Are any of them based on real people?


Travis Davis: First, it's a very character-driven story. You have Camille, you have Alex, you have his father, obviously the soldiers in the story. It's a relationship story. The father-son relationship. The characters are a blend of fictional and inspired by real people. Camille Durand, for instance, represents the resilience and bravery of the civilians who lived through the war. The unnamed American soldier is an amalgamation of many soldiers' experiences drawn from the diaries and letters I researched. I aimed to create characters that were believable and relatable, reflecting the diverse experiences of people during World War I. And of course, I added some of my quirky humor in the dialogue to keep things lively.


George Mehok: What themes did you aim to explore in the book, and what messages do you hope readers take away from it?


Travis Davis: One of the main themes is the impact of war on individuals and their relationships. The book explores how war changes people, the bonds formed through shared hardship, and the legacy of those who served. Another theme is the idea of the unknown soldier as a symbol of all who have served and sacrificed. I hope readers gain a deeper appreciation for the historical events and the personal stories behind them, and perhaps reflect on the importance of remembering and honoring those who fought for their countries.


George Mehok: What were some of the challenges you faced while writing this book, and how did you overcome them?


Travis Davis: One of the biggest challenges was balancing historical accuracy with engaging storytelling. I wanted to ensure that the book was factually accurate without overwhelming readers with too much detail. Finding the right balance took a lot of editing and feedback from early readers. Another challenge was maintaining the anonymity of the unknown soldier while making him a compelling character. I achieved this by focusing on his experiences and emotions rather than physical descriptions, allowing readers to imagine him in their own way.


George Mehok: Do you have a favorite scene or chapter in 'One of Four'? What makes it special to you?


Travis Davis: One of my favorite scenes is when Camille discovers the diary of the unknown soldier. It's a poignant moment that connects the past and present, highlighting the impact of one soldier's story on a young girl's life. Another favorite is the scene where the soldiers are preparing for a major offensive, reflecting their camaraderie and the gravity of their situation. These scenes encapsulate the emotional depth and historical significance I aimed to capture in the book.


George Mehok: How important is historical accuracy to you, and how do you balance fact with fiction?


Travis Davis: Historical accuracy is incredibly important to me. I believe that even in fiction, respecting the historical context adds authenticity and depth to the story. Balancing fact with fiction involves careful research and a commitment to portraying events and settings accurately while allowing for creative freedom in character development and plot. I strive to ensure that any fictional elements are plausible within the historical framework.


George Mehok: How have readers responded to the book so far? Have any reactions surprised you?


Travis Davis: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Readers have appreciated the historical accuracy and the emotional depth of the characters. Many have mentioned that the book gave them a new perspective on World War I and the experiences of soldiers and civilians. Some have even shared personal stories of their own relatives who fought in the war, which has been incredibly touching. The connection readers feel to the story and characters is something I’m very proud of.


George Mehok: What tips would you have for an inspiring author as it relates to historical fiction and writing historical fiction?


Travis Davis: Don't force it. Do your research. Make your character believable. Don't make them as if there's no way this person could exist. Then, look at some real-life moments in history and expound upon them. Make some of it fictitious, but make it where they could have been there, and sit back and ensure that people want to read what you wrote. You want to entertain people, and that's the key. People read books for a lot of reasons. They read historical fiction because they want to learn, but they also want a good story, a good plot, or an emotional release.


George Mehok: You have a popular podcast. Can you tell us more about that?


Travis Davis: I created a writer’s podcast, Author Eke. Eke is German for Corner. I have created over 72 episodes. I started it when I began writing because, at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing, so I thought, why not interview people who have done it? We talk about how they write, what motivates them, and how they market their books.


George Mehok: How can people find you, your books, and your podcast?


Travis Davis: You can visit authortravisdavis.com



 

author Travis Davis

About Travis Davis


Travis Davis is an Air Force brat who grew up in Arkansas, Spain, New York, and California. He joined the US Army at 17 years old as an Armored Reconnaissance Specialist and was stationed in the various forts in the United States and Germany, where he met his beautiful wife. During his three tours in Germany, he conducted hundreds of border patrols along the East-West German border and the Czechoslovakia-West German border. Where he saw first-hand communism and its oppression of its citizens, he retired from the US Army, where his last duty assignment was as Assistant Operations Sergeant of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He is a lifetime member of the Sergeant Morales Club.



 

author, technologist and entrepreneur George Mehok

About George Mehok


George Mehok is an author, technologist and entrepreneur. He has spent his career designing software and leading high-performing teams in the financial services, telecommunications and aerospace industries. George has contributed to numerous tech journals and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CIOReview, and InformationWeek on topics such as wireless communications, cybersecurity, and data analytics. He won Craine’s Business Magazine CIO of the Year award, and his work has been recognized by InformationWeek’s Annual Elite 100 ranking of the most innovative US-based users of technology. An avid storyteller, George weaves real-world expertise into gripping narratives, creating thrilling plots that captivate readers. His debut novel, "Going Dark," draws on his extensive technology background and with historical intrigue, offering a unique blend of modern-day suspense and revolutionary-era secrets. When not reading and writing, George enjoys fly fishing and competitive US Masters swimming.

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