“That’s the real fragment,” Travis said. “That name, Pliney Fiske, just stuck with me.”
History has been the author’s passion since his kindergarten days at Central School on Bartlet Street (the building that is now Doherty Middle School). He remembers bringing a prized history book to show and tell.
“I still have that book and I still remember that day,” he laughed. “I tripped going to class and ruined the corner of the book.”
Travis said his love of writing took shape in Andover. He was a regular at Memorial Hall Library and the Andover Bookstore. His family lived on Summer and Elm streets. Travis graduated from Andover High School in 1975.
He wrote his Pliney Fiske manuscript several years ago after completing a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 2003. He landed a New York literary agent, but the manuscript was rejected by publishers. The manuscript took a back seat to his newspaper career.
When a leukemia diagnosis completely shocked Travis two years ago, he was remotivated to self-publish the book.
“It was for my kids (Ben and Leanna),” Travis said. “I had a successful stem cell transplant thanks to my brother, Michael, and had to take a year off from work to recover.”
The back cover of the historical fiction includes praise from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns who says, in part “This is a wonderful novel, alive in the moment, from the first scene to the last... This is a gritty, real world that Travis unpacks.”
“I succeeded in self-publishing and I am just so happy,” Travis said. “I also persuaded my wife (Brenda) that as far as hobbies go, self-publishing was cheaper and less dangerous than, say, buying a Harley.”