They’re bustin’ out and they ain’t going back – the Stagworth Five have left the building, and led by Sean they’re headed toward Gun Lake. But more excitement is coming to the lake than just the escaped cons. Thrasher pieces together a wide-ranged story of drama and suspense, as the lives of seven people all meet at the Lake, and their lives will forever be changed by the decisions they make.
The Stagworth Five aren’t the only ones breaking out. Gun Lake is Travis Thrasher’s breakout novel that expands the length, depth, and breadth of his storytelling. Besides the leader of the Stagworth Five, six other individuals on their own journey to find hope. One a woman on the run from her husband, leaving behind a financially secure but physically harmful relationship; another a mother trying desperately to put her son the right track in life. Their life stories continue, all different, yet all the same – stories of those without hope grasping for it, and some finding it.
Sometimes fun and lighthearted, and other times somber and serious, Gun Lake is a character-driven novel that brings folks from all walks of life together with a common theme, and in this case, a common location. Having so many characters to focus on is a bit daunting at first, but careful reading and a decent memory helps one to get the storylines sorted out by the midway point. Such a careful reading pays off when Thrasher begins to tie the meandering storylines together.
Up to this point in his career, Thrasher had focused on smaller novels, publishing two love stories and one shorter suspense novel. Gun Lake expands that greatly – perhaps a bit too much given the number of storylines – but he handles the transition well. As in his previous novels, the themes of redemption and hope shine through strongly. Probably not the novel I’d recommend for someone first reading Thrasher’s novels, but it’s a solid addition to Thrasher’s works and is the novel that opened him up to so much more.
Mini Q&A with Travis
Josh: In my opinion, this is really your “branching out” novel. Your previous novels had been shorter, and with the exception of The Second Thief, were love stories. How did Gun Lake effect your writing journey?
Travis: I agree with you. This was the first “big” novel I had published. I’d written several others but they’d never seen publication. I wanted to do something on a much bigger scale. Not just meaning a bigger word count, but a bigger palette. Granted, I think I made it a big too big with having seven main character viewpoints. But it was exciting to be given a chance to do a grander novel with multiple themes.
Gun Lake marked a big turn for me in terms of marketing, too. I stepped up things like online presence and book tours. This was the first time I did a ten city book tour (all set up by myself). I felt like I was going to be in this writing thing for a while, so I finally had a hefty novel that I was proud of and that I thought a lot of people might enjoy.
Josh: One of the characters, Craig, is always making up movie lists that correspond to whatever situation he’s in. Are you a big movie fan? Have you seen all the movies he referenced?
Travis: That was a fun part of the story. I love movies. I am moved by movies because I love not only the story, but the music and the visuals. So this was just one thing I put into the story–my love of film (and pop culture).
I remember someone once saying that they didn’t like the movie references, but let’s face it–pop culture is part of our collective history. I love being able to say that one of the guys is a big fan of The Doors. There are people out there who are big fans of The Doors. Why make up some other fictitious group? That seems corny. I can understand that the references might not mean stuff to some people. But this was another way of putting some of myself in the story.