A practicing wildlife biologist, Trautman lives in central California with one wife, three dogs, four cats, and a varying number of chickens.
Below, Baxter Clare Trauman answers questions about her life, her writing, and what she hopes her readers take away from her books:
If you were to stand up in front a room full of strangers and introduce yourself, what would you say?
Actually I do that a lot! I wear a couple of different hats, so as a wildlife biologist I give tailgate meetings for new clients and contractors, and as a writer I speak at conferences, workshops, and book clubs. Depending on the day, I’m either saying, “Alright, listen up. I’m your site biologist,” or, “My name is Baxter Clare Trautman, author of the LA Franco mystery series.”
What authors and books have had the most profound influence on you as a writer? As a reader?
Books affected me hugely as a child. We traveled a lot from year to year, so friends, if I ever made any, came and went quickly. But books were constant. The Bobbsey twins, Ferdinand the Bull, The Seven Chinese Brothers, all the Aesop and Grimm characters – they were my forever friends, with me in joy, travail, and need. By early adolescence apparently I was already jaded, for I had given up on human characters. Jack London and Jim Kjelgaard dogs became my best friends. My heroes were the kids surviving on their own in My Side of the Mountain and Island of the Blue Dolphins. In my teens, dealing with adult issues and problems, I was still attracted to stories of survival, but now those stories took on subtle psychological nuances. Carson McCuller’s crippled Southerners, Hemingway’s wounded soldiers, Steinbeck’s misplaced drunks and losers, those were the characters that taught me about the fathomless human capacity for cruelty, dignity, suffering and courage. They would form who I am as a person and a writer.
When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself a writer?
Ha! Everyday I carry on a spirited private debate about whether or not I’m a writer. Some days I tell myself, “Oh just forget this writing #$%*. Give up field work and become a project manager, make a lot of money.” But then I come to my senses. I write because I love it, because I need to tell stories that might move people. Does that make me a writer? Does a certain amount of publishing income make me a writer? Is it recognition and validation from authorities in the field? I don’t know. Do you think I’m a writer?
Is writing a job, or a vocation?
More like an avocation – I do it for love. Whether I get published or not, paid or not, I still write. I wrestle with wanting to retire and write full time – then it would be a job, and I wonder if I would love it as much….
Describe your writing style in ten words or fewer.
Gritty, lyric, honest, moving.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
The best part of writing, or any creative endeavor, is getting so intensely caught up in the project that I am utterly lost to reality. Paradoxically, typing “The End” is equally gratifying!
When you hear from your readers, what do they most often say?
Franco fans love her. I think I could spin any kind of fantastic yarn (which I have in Cry Havoc and Hold of the Bone) and fans still love her. She’s a hero, albeit deeply flawed, and we all love a hero. Fans of The River Within were touched by how I described war and the ripple effects it creates at home.
One of the most challenging things authors face is getting their books into the hands of readers. If a potential reader asks, “Why should I read your book?” what answer would you give?
Read my work if you’d rather be moved than distracted, and if you value hope in a story more than happily ever after.
That there is always hope. No matter how bad your circumstances, there is always the opportunity for forgiveness, redemption, and love.