The Big Thrill Discusses FOXHOLES with Travis Tougaw
Combat veteran Vince Marcotte has hung up his uniform in favor of a quiet, comfortable life. But, ghosts from his past are raised when Nick Batson announces his Senate campaign. Vince is convinced Nick got away with murder 15 years ago when they were both deployed to Afghanistan. When another person close to Nick dies under mysterious circumstances, Vince enlists the help of amateur detective Hadley Collins to prove Nick’s guilt. As they grow closer to the truth, they become Nick’s targets and soon learn that he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his political goals. As Nick barrels toward a campaign victory, Vince races to discover what really happened in Afghanistan. Will he survive long enough to bring Nick to justice?
Travis Tougaw recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his debut military thriller, FOXHOLES.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
When the U.S. began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I thought about my time there and how the withdrawal might affect other service members who had been there. That got me thinking about deployments in general. I had an idea for a story about a political candidate with a secret, sordid past, and I decided to merge that with my thoughts about combat.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
I like the characters a lot, and I wanted to explore some different themes with them. As I got further into the first draft, I felt like I had something worthy of publication. More importantly, I felt like the characters had stories that would resonate with readers, stories that were worth the time and effort for me to uncover.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I met my protagonist, Vince, years ago when I drafted another novel. Like FOXHOLES, it was international in scope. In that novel, Vince was a photojournalist who accompanied a corrupt Senator on a trip into North Korea. When I started FOXHOLES, he was a natural fit, with his inquisitive mind and eye for details. I changed his job to make him a paralegal, and I aged him a bit. When I finished the first draft, I knew I had selected the right man for the job.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I changed a lot of the details about combat and the experience in Afghanistan, but I hope I captured a variety of sentiments of troops who served there, and I hope readers will resonate with that. Everyone who served in combat, whether they sat at a desk like me or were in a literal foxhole taking fire, is a hero, and I hope to remind readers of that.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Not really; I referenced Top Gun in an early draft (but that didn’t make into the final), as well as A Few Good Men, but I don’t think they were major influences. Mostly, I was thinking about current events and the culmination of a twenty-year war in Afghanistan.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I have a lot going on. FOXHOLES is the first in a three-book series. I’ve been working feverishly to get the next two squared away and ready for publication. I have another idea that’s been percolating that will put the relationship of two adult brothers to the test under harsh and dangerous conditions.
Travis Tougaw is a writer and editor from Colorado. He earned degrees in English from Angelo State University in Texas and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. FOXHOLES is his first novel, and he looks forward to continuing to share his characters’ stories in upcoming releases. He lives in Denver with his wife and two sons.
To learn more about the author, please visit his website.
FOXHOLES with Travis Tougaw