My name is T.L. Davis, I’m an author and screenwriter. I never considered writing as a career or even as a part-time career, which is what it is for most writers. I considered myself a hard-working guy, working ranches and in the oil industry.
When I was in the Air Force, working on jet fighters, my job was to inspect F-15’s at night, fix them and get them ready for the morning sorties. That left a lot of time doing repetitive inspections that, once a person inspects the same aircraft a few times, they know what is new and what is not, so my mind wandered while my eyes and hands did the work. I found that interactions between characters I had created in my boredom would replay themselves over and over again until I wrote them down in a notebook, then my mind went about creating new characters and interactions and I would write that down to get rid of them. Before long, I had several notebooks of basically worthless, disconnected scenes and characters.
It was the same when I got out of the Air Force and started work in the oil industry on drilling rigs. The manual labor was often demanding of the physical body, but not the mind and the process began to repeat itself and I started filling more and more notebooks. Eventually, I had to do something with it and I wrote a short story “A Social Witness” that was accepted by a small literary press that paid $10 and sent me a copy of the anthology along with the “Editors Award.”
Whenever the oil field experienced a bust, I would work on writing, working for several national and regional magazines, most of them Western type magazines because of my work on ranches and the small, hobby-type ranch my dad had. That brought me to the idea of writing a novel, something that seemed like a huge undertaking.
I wanted to tell the story of a young man at the end of the Civil War, seventeen years old, whose father was a very influential Confederate associated with Jefferson Davis. The domineering and powerful father kept the young man out of the Army, but employed him as a courier, for which he was given a special type of training on how to talk or fight his way out of a confrontation to avoid capture and surrender of the valuable information he carried.
The young man, J.D. Wilkes, named after Jefferson Davis, thought he was going to be a senator or judge, but finds himself at the end of the Civil War, not really a veteran, considered a traitor by the Union, broke and dispirited, facing the persecution of reconstruction and wondering what he would ever do with the rest of a long life. That novel became Shadow Soldier.
People think of some of my work as Westerns, but they aren’t really. They are character studies. I like to get inside the head of a person in a trying situation. I describe my writing as always the same thing: an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation. I enjoy putting them in the worst possible position and watching them think their way out of it. Sometimes that is with force, but often it’s just working the problem until they find a solution. I write from the first person past tense to achieve an intimacy with the main character, because all he knows is what he personally experiences and that leaves a lot of gaps in information that can produce a surprise for the main character and the reader.
I see a writer’s job as something more than just a person selling books. It’s a relationship with the reader that I’m building. It’s a relationship of trust, something I have established over the years with those who have read my work.
Mike Nichols wrote the New Mexico Trilogy beginning with The Magic Journey, then the Milagro Beanfield War and he had me hooked. His writing was on the edge of being ridiculous, but somehow stayed within believable boundaries and I couldn’t wait to read the final book in the series Nirvana Blues. It was horrible, I hated it. He went too far and asked me to believe too much. I couldn’t finish it. It felt like a betrayal of sorts and that is something that has stayed with me throughout my career. I don’t ever want one of my readers to suffer that disappointment and I work very hard to make sure it never happens.
My books are available at: