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  • Writer's pictureRobin Alexander

Pull Up a Chair and Talk with an Author ~ Dayton Horror Author Travis VanHoose

Updated: Mar 27

Coffee house talk

The start of our visit in Dayton brought a sit-down with my friend, Travis VanHoose. He brings a special creep factor to his horror and mystery books that reminds me a bit of Stephen King. But there's nothing creepy about the author. So come sit in and join us for a quick chat.

Travis Vanhoose Website

RMA: Hi, Travis. I know how busy you are, so thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Let’s start with a few questions to get to know you. We're visiting Dayton, and just getting started with getting familiar with the area, but really love it so far. Are you a native of Dayton?

TV: I’m not a native of Dayton, Ohio. I grew up in a small rural community about 45 minutes away.  Wilmington, Ohio. I relocated to Dayton ten years ago. As much as I loved my hometown, I needed a little more city lights in my life.

RMA: LOL! We live in a small town where we'd probably find pretty claustrophobic if Fort Wayne wasn't a few miles away. What are some of your favorite things to do in the Dayton area? 

TV: One of the best things about Dayton is that there is always something to do. One of my favorite things to do is check out all the mom-and-pop restaurants in the area. There are tons of BBQ places that are outstanding. There are also a lot of Haunted History spots in Dayton that I have enjoyed visiting, such as Frankenstein’s Tower!

RMA: Sounds like we need to add a few more stops to our list. We love BBQ and mysterious places. Where do you like to go for bookish escapes? 

TV: There are two great discount used bookstores in my area that I frequent: Half Price Books and First And Charles. However, if I had to shop near my area I would return to Wilmington, Ohio.  One of my high school friends opened a used book store there in 2023.  It’s a hidden little gem called Banned Book Nook and Other Curiosities. In addition to books, they have homemade works from local artists.

RMA: See, that's why I love doing these talks with local authors - we learn about spots we wouldn't necessarily find. Now that I have that added to my list, I gotta ask, do you like to travel or are you more of a homebody?

TV: I suffer from OCD and anxiety so my traveling is limited. I travel to Virginia each month to visit my seven-year-old son. But my traveling is mostly limited to the worlds I create in my books.

RMA: Gotcha. We will be working our way into Virginia. I hear it's beautiful there. When you go, do you prefer to sightsee or relax?

TV: I just love spending time with my son. There are tons of great places to eat, and we have found some really great parks and hiking trails.

RMA: Sounds like fun. I want to shift gears now and talk more about your books and writing. Do you have any books that take place in the Dayton area? If so, which ones, and why did you choose Dayton as the setting?

TV: Oddly enough, none of my current works take place in Dayton. I like to set my stories in super small towns. But it would be something I’d like to tackle in the future. A couple of years ago Stephen King did a book signing in Dayton, and he ended up falling in love with the city and featured the town in one of his novels. I thought that was pretty cool.

RMA: That is super cool!

I guess I better get back on track so I don't keep you too much longer. Tell us more about your book(s) that take place in the area? What genre are they? What are they about?

TV: My hometown, Wilmington, is the basis for the small towns I feature in my work. Most of my work takes place in a fictional town called Enigma Springs. But elements of it are based on Dayton, Wilmington, New Vienna, and Hillsboro, Ohio. They are all horror and mystery books. Most of them are about a hidden evil that controls the town, or the terrible things that go on behind closed doors in a quaint little town shrouded in a false sense of safety and peace.

RMA: Do you find it harder or easier to write in familiar locations close to home? 

TV: I find it much easier to write about familiar locations. Most of those places I have walked. I can recall smells and sounds from them, which I can incorporate into my written works.

RMA: Which has got to help so much in cutting down some of that research time. I don't always write about familiar places, and even though I take some creative licensing, I also like to keep things as grounded as possible and that takes a lot of research and a lot of time. I know you’ve authored quite a few titles now. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

TV: I have a few stories that are stand-alones, but I am really focusing on a universe that all takes place in or around Enigma Springs. There are two other small towns next to it that I set my stories in: Miller’s Crossing and Hobb’s End. Characters from each of my stories visit and run into one another in other towns – not realizing that they are each dealing with the same type of terrible things and situations.

RMA: I've told you before that your writing reminds me of Stephen King in some ways, and you saying that instantly brought him to mind again since a good chunk of his books take place in Main and a good chunk of them in Castle Rock. What is your favorite, under-appreciated novel?

TV: I really enjoy my first novel, Seeing Red. I think it’s because I started writing it when I was fourteen and just finished it in my forties in 2023. If I never sat down to finish that novel and proved to myself I could do it, I don’t think any of my other works would exist today.

RMA: I know exactly what you're saying. I feel the same way about my first series. There's just something extra special about the title that gave a writer to take that leap and let their words go out into the public because that's a terrifying thing. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

TV: I have about 20 novels that are half-finished. I have massive ADD with writing and love to jump from one story to another. I’m not sure how my brain is capable of keeping track of all of them, to be honest!

RMA: LOL! Okay, just for laughs and giggles, as a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

TV: I have a pet tarantula that sits near my writing area. I consider her to be my writing mascot. Her name is Rosie, and she often judges me from her cage while I write. I’ll get her out and let her stretch her legs on my desk and she always comes and sits next to my keyboard as if she is reading everything I am writing. She’s super calm and barely moves when she does this. It’s creepy, but adorable at the same time.

RMA: Okay, as a person with arachnophobia, I'll have to take your word for it on how adorable it is. I have shivers running up my spine just thinking about it. Finally, where can we find your books? 

TV: The best place to find my books are on my official website: or via Amazon.

RMA: Perfect! I'll be sharing some of your titles on our website and linking them back to you so readers can easily find them. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us! 



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