Philip Scott Wikel – “Selling Books” Author Interview, Ticket To Ride

Philip Scott Wikel – Author Interview

Where are you from?I’m originally from Goshen, NY, a small town upstate in Orange County. It’s an idyllic little village that’s been around since before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I’ve also lived in several states including Northern and Southern California, North Carolina, and Hawaii and have traveled extensively in Mexico, Europe and Northern Africa. My dad had wanderlust and I guess I have it to. After my son turns 18, I’ll be on the road again.

When and why did you begin writing?

The first thing I remember writing was a re-working of the Easter Bunny story back in 2nd or 3rd grade. My mother was good with helping me to write poems early on as well. Throughout my life I just wanted to write longer and longer pieces. Clicking on the “word count” button gives me a strange thrill when I realize I’ve stacked up a lot of words. And not just any words, the thrill comes from knowing I’ve arranged them differently than they’ve ever been arranged before. Why did I start writing? It was just something that was in me to do, some kind of ailment that I can’t get rid of. It was and is my way of relating to the world. I don’t mean to be so vague, but there’s no other way to say it. Maybe I’m just delusional.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose it must have been in high school. I wrote love poems for girlfriends and awful surfing stories which I sent to Surfer Magazine. None of them got published, however, my friends enjoyed them and I was known among them as “the writer.” It was better than having to buy a bunch of clothes to look “Goth” or “Mod” or whatever. A much less expensive image. A couple of pens and a notebook and I was instantly cool, no matter whether anyone read my stuff or not. I always wished I needed glasses so I would look smarter.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book began as a short story entitled Tradewinds. My intentions were to create a piece that defined the rite-of-passage from adolescence into early adulthood. My feeling is that nowadays young men and women have very little to guide them in their coming-of-age. I picked it up and put it down for years and it eventually became a novella which, combined with a second novella, became Ticket To Ride. I’m embarrassed to say how long it took to write.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to think that my writing style is wholly my own but I will say that I emulated Kerouac, Hemingway and Dylan Thomas. I believe that by doing this long enough my own style eventually emerged. Like Bono from U2 said, “every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief.”

How did you come up with the title?

I have a literary manager in New York who came up with the most recent title, Ticket to Ride. However, as I mentioned earlier, my first novella was called The Tradewinds, named for the winds that blow daily in Hawaii. I like the idea that one could follow the winds around the world, experience unfettered freedom, and get lost in the breeze (more evidence of my congenital wanderlust).

The second novella Just Another Day was written as a companion piece to The Tradewinds. In The Tradewinds I had introduced a female protagonist but hadn’t developed her story. Just Another Day is, for the most part, about her. It’s based on a Paul McCartney and Wings song entitled “Another Day” which tells the story of a lonely working girl. Livy Tinsley, my female protagonist, is a devoted fan of the Beatles and Paul McCartney and, since my two main characters meet on a train in Portugal, my literary manager felt Ticket to Ride (also the name of a Beatles song) was fitting as the title of the two novellas combined. Confused yet?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Read something else, anything else. Honestly, I guess I wanted people to be able to walk away from this book and feel that there were no obstacles they couldn’t overcome. All things can be gotten through. It’s a coming-of-age novel and I wanted to, at least attempt to, re-define our rites of passage and try to clarify the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Both characters deal with their father’s alcoholism, poor parenting, extreme peer pressure, and self doubt, among other things. I also wanted it to be sort of a fun yet thoughtful romp through a crazy period of time. I believe it can be read either way. It might best not to read it at all. it could scar you for life.

How much of the book is realistic?

I’m a firm believer in writing what you know. I read a lot of historical fiction and I can see right through an author who hasn’t done his homework. My characters are both ten years older than me but since I’ve always been an “old soul” or just old, it wasn’t much of a leap to add a few years to my own person. What I didn’t experience myself I either garnered through the stories of friends, or pushed myself deep into my imagination to arrive at something entirely believable. I guess I’d have to say that it’s 75% me, 15% other people, and 10% imagination. Honestly, it’s all plagiarized.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I think I answered this one in the last question. But I will add the following as examples: Most of the European portion is all me, however, I didn’t travel alone. I went to Europe with my best friend. And I never actually slept with a prostitute in Lisbon but I did stay in a pensione there. A large portion of Livy’s experiences are my own, however, I made my best effort to feminize them. I believe I’ve had enough girlfriends, and a sister and a mother, to help me to write from a feminine point-of-view. If I’ve failed in any way in this book it might be in grasping the fullness of the feminine experience. Do you think that last line might get me some dates?

What books have most influenced your life?

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Red and the Black by Stendhal, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, The Bone People by Keri Hulme, and On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Maybe even Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. His sense of humor is phenomenal.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

The guy who writes Hallmark cards. Actually, Dylan Thomas literally set me on fire. Quite Early One Morning showed me that words could have a life all their own.

What book are you reading now?

I’m re-reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and am finding it quite different from when I first read it 20 years ago. I’m actually quite disappointed with it in that it’s almost entirely devoid of feeling. I think I read a lot into it when I was 19. I think I also assumed that since it was Hemingway it had to be good. Who do I think I am, right? He’s one of the great “masters.”

If you had to choose one book to read the rest of your life, and nothing else, what book would it be and why?

It’s a toss up between Catcher in the Rye and The Fountainhead. Catcher in the Rye because I never tire of Holden Caulfield’s cynicism and no nonsense approach to life, and The Fountainhead for it’s definition of the true artist and being true to your convictions. I wish I was more like Howard Roark. He’s so damned cool.

Do you have something you are working on at the moment that you’d like to share with us?

How much abuse can people take? But seriously, I’m mostly writing bits for my blog but I’m also working on a sequel to Ticket to Ride. The sequel will chronicle the life of Dylan Blake, the son of my two main characters from Ticket to Ride. I’m only half-way through it. I have a million little notes I’ve written on scraps of paper that sometime soon I hope to add into that book. I’m finding it much harder to make sense of the decades of the 90s and this most recent one than I did with the 70s. I’m considering a collection of my blog posts as well. I’ve had some good feedback there. I also recently bought my first guitar and am hoping to spend some time with it soon. Then I can annoy people with songs instead of stories.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Whatever it takes to make it a bestseller. Really though, there’s a typo in Chapter 15 wherein there’s a poem I wrote for a real-life woman and I included a line about having a son. I meant to change the line to “the sun” instead of “my son.” Everyone who proofread it missed that. I also might have made it more sort of PG rated so it would be more appropriate for the YA crowd. My thirteen-year-old son wants to read it but, as street-wise as he is, I’d rather he wait a few years.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think it was always there waiting for me to discover it. I don’t remember not being interested in writers and writing. I suppose it might have been a disease I was born with and I don’t believe anyone has found a cure.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Writing, or, at least feeling like I’m writing something that has never been written in quite the same way. I’m terrified of being redundant. There’s a famous quote that says something like writers have only one story to tell and they tell it over and over again. I suppose some readers enjoy this because they know what to expect of their favorite writers. I like to be surprised with something new.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I named my son after Dylan Thomas for the reasons I mentioned above. He literally set me on fire.

Who designed the covers?

I designed them myself. I’m a graphic designer by trade. For better or for worse, I don’t think I could have had anyone else design them. I guess I’m a bit of a control freak that way.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Returning to the place I left off. Getting back into character time and again to maintain consistency. I can be a bit of a chameleon. Being a chameleon keeps me from getting bored with myself and keeps me from being stuck in any kind of mindset or even caricature. I think a lot of people become caricatures of themselves by being always the same about everything day in and day out. I like to surprise myself with some new way of looking at things. It can be challenging to turn it off and be a consistent me when I need to for writing. Maybe some lithium would help.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I should probably stick to graphic design. Honestly though, writing only “what you know” can be a hinderance. Sometimes you have to settle for less than 100% on that one. Imagination can be a wonderful thing. I might better put in a call to the Wizard of Oz.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Become an accountant or something where everything always adds up. Honestly? Read, read, read. Read what you love, read often and don’t expect to find your way as a writer until you’ve read a small library of books. Reading establishes patterns of thought that will translate later to words on paper.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Mom, go easy on me. Seriously though, to future readers: Be patient with me. I may not hand you the story in boldface print but if you spend some time with me you might find something you can use. To current readers: Thanks for taking the risk. Choosing to read a new novelist is a gamble that many don’t feel they can afford. Books aren’t cheap these days unless of course you’ve managed to get a hold of some form of e-reader.

If you could mirror the career of any other author, who would it be and why?

I’m torn between living like J.D. Salinger and Bono from U2. Of course I’d have to be as famous as either one of them before I’d actually be faced with that dilemma. What a fine dilemma that would be.

If you had to choose something besides writing, what career would you choose and why?

I’d like to be Adam Sandler. He seems to be having a great time all the time.

I find great joy in creating. If not in writing then in graphic design. So far, graphic design pays a lot better. Perhaps if I spent more time writing I’d find more opportunities to make it my livelihood. Although I’m afraid of any kind of writing career other than being a novelist. I believe novelists have the best opportunities for creativity. Deadlines can quickly snuff out inspiration. In newspapers, this morning’s headline is this evening’s trash. I admire those who write for newspapers because there’s a great need for them but I like things with lasting significance. I actually did some news writing in the past. Woodward and Bernstein are 2 of my heroes but I don’t foresee anyone breaking stories like theirs ever again. With government and all that, it’s kind of been done, people are desensitized or immune to that sort of thing now. I know I’m going to step on some toes here but I think the big news stories have all been written. But what do I know, right?

Do you have a muse? 

Muses come from anywhere and everywhere. I wish I had one that would never fail me but I find that eventually I have to move on to new sources of inspiration. Just like I hate to write the same thing twice, I don’t think I can tap the same fountain more than once. I never know where it’s going to come from, I just hope that it does. Today I went to the store and a beautiful Latina woman asked me what I was doing for fun on my day off and that question sent me to my laptop where I wrote my blog post for the day. It’s all very random. Knowing I might have something to share is one of my motivations. Writing for yourself is one thing and writing for the sake of writing is another. I’ve heard it said that we write to know that we’re not alone. I suppose it’s good to feel you have an audience and that you’re not “screaming into the void.” Did I say something or was that an echo?

What is the interview question you always dread being asked? Can you give us the answer?

I fear no question. It may be my vanity but I love this process.

What is your favorite interview question, and what is the answer?

It would have to be what I am trying to accomplish through my writing because I like to feel that I have something to say. Sometimes I wish I was like Stephen King or James Michener with respect to their ability to crank out one giant book after another. But I don’t write that way. I’d like to be like an exclusive vintner, creating limited edition wines as opposed to going the Gallo route. At this point, I might even settle for fermented cider, as long as people can hold it down. What’s the old saying, “what doesn’t kill you, will only make you stronger.” Drink Ticket to Ride at your own risk.

If you were to assign an MPAA rating (PG, PG-13, etc.) to your book, what rating would you give it and why?

Rated R for a sex scene, some drug use and some inappropriate language.

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Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Final Chapter: And time cast forth his mortal creature…

Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove

As the island of Barbados was unveiled by the pure-light of day, two tanned figures walked away from the transplanted shadows of a few well-placed royal palms, heading towards the shore. The young couple, he with blondish hair and an infant child in his arms and she, fairer but ruddily complected, her left arm stretched around both, crossed the newly smooth sand and the wispy grasses of the upper beach, the front yard of their moravian style cottage. Though neither could be accused of being materialists, this structurally simplistic, eye-pleasing edifice offered an unmistakable air of serenity and strength, the essence of life, which made them feel light, and at ease.

In this way they walked nearly every morning since a need to be closer to family and the desire to make a fresh start brought them to the island, a peaceable harbor in the storm of an American social climate fraught with a backlash of guilt and spiritual turmoil, the unwanted stepchildren of change. This morning ritual was made, not out of a sense of obligation or need, but because their daily pilgrimage was as natural to them as the involuntary beating of one’s heart and as inconsequentially essential as the taking of bread and water for one’s nourishment.

Sometimes they would speculate about or marvel at the sea and what lay beyond; what sights, scents or sounds might be beheld in distant lands such as Cyprus, Indonesia or Sri Lanka. They preferred to consider the warm lands of the world because, like their parents, they were drawn to the comfortable climes, places where life’s necessities could be kept to a minimum.

Their conversation came flowingly, with the ease of a mountain stream and would rise and fall like the ocean swells which appeared consistently on the shallow sand bars beyond the surf fishermen as they strung line and laid their nets in the ever-present sea. The two didn’t readily acknowledge the fishermen but only focused on them between thoughts, using their deliberate and precise movements like a musician makes use of a metronome, to keep time. They gazed intently at these energetic men as one might gaze at a flickering candle flame, in profound meditation.

On this particular day and within one of these particular moments, Olivia leaned forward and spoke deliberately:

“I can almost see the canoes and huts and the beautiful brown girls bathing in the sea. What must it have been like here four hundred years ago?”

As she spoke, the morning sun shot warm and piercing rays of light into the faces of the three, reflecting their light into the world. The shore began to grow humid, sultry and pleasantly heavy as the passive force of the sun encouraged the static air to gravitate skyward, toward a heavy, water-laden cumulus which would soon fall as a gentle summer rain, completing the necessary cycle which offers a watery infusion of life to the mountains, rivers, and the sea in front of them.

Morgan said nothing but instead pictured himself sitting there in the days before the colonists and traders. He saw himself as a young native boy preparing for a day of fishing or hunting. And then, his eyes at once fixed on the fisherman, his gaze rose above their heads and he became entranced by the sea.

It surged without crashing and seemed to breathe, pushing and pulling at the sugary sand just as gentle, knowing hands caress the skin, and this, coupled with the charming industry with which the fishermen went about their day, served to free the stream of conversation for several hours until it seemed, the rest of the world, or perhaps just the island, was waking up to the new day.

They came together this morning to “baptize” their new child in the sea, which was done with little ceremony except for the recitation of a few paraphrased lines from Dylan Thomas, and the addition of a request that the sea spirits take good care of their son Dylan August.

They sat down again, Dylan wiggling then settling in his mother’s arms to nurse.

“Have I told you about my great grandfather?”

“Tell me again.”

“He was a bicycle salesman, not a guy who sold bicycles but the guy who had what people needed like tools and things and he rode around the island on his bike selling stuff. He was born here in 1885…


And time cast forth his mortal creature

To drift or drown upon the seas

Acquainted with the salt adventure

Of tides that never touch the shores

He who is rich will be made the richer

By sipping at the vine of days.

– Dylan Thomas


About the author:

As the publisher of SALT magazine, a regional ocean sports magazine, Philip has gained something of a following in Southern California. He has also been published in Blue Edge magazine (which included an interview with Jack Johnson), The VC Reporter, The Surfer’s Path (UK), the Ojai Visitor’s guide, Fishing Stories magazine in Australia and others. Philip has worked in various fields including everything from carpentry to graphic design. He studied Comparative Literature at UC – Santa Cruz and has traveled extensively. His other writing projects include a sequel to Ticket to Ride that chronicles the life of Dylan Blake, the child of Morgan and Livy, now an adult trying to make sense of his own generation, and finding his own place within it.


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Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 34: I’m not trying to get away from myself anymore…

fathers-sons-ivan-turgenev-paperback-cover-art“That’s a wonderful piece honey, it reads like poetry,” She put the magazine on the coffee table.

“Thanks… the poet laureate of Conset Bay,” Morgan said smiling.


“Well finish your coffee and we’ll take Dylan down to the water.”

“Shuwa,” said Olivia, feigning a New York accent and smiling like an Armstrong pinup.

Morgan put a copy of the magazine into his filing cabinet and noticed a yellowed note stuck against the inside of the drawer. He went cold.

Olivia moved closer, noticing the change in his disposition.

“What is it honey?”

Morgan handed her the note.

“I think I’ve mentioned Psalm.”

“Yeah he… your old friend from the islands, right?”

She read out loud,

“I’m sorry, I just can’t,

I killed them”

“What is…

“Aristotle told me… Psalm had gone to some sort of ‘love-in’ with his wife and their daughter. There was a lot of stuff going around, you know, it was like 1970, the height of psychedelia. On the way home he crashed his car, killing his wife and daughter.”

“Oh no Morgan… that’s why…”

“Yeah… and he did a lot of acid after that.”

Images of Vietnam and Woodstock flashed into Morgan’s mind. He then saw his Uncle Norman as his father described him, and finally Uncle Jack in his dress blues.

The phone rang. Morgan walked to the coffee table where the phone was sitting next to a copy of SEA. On it’s cover it read “Melville’s Ghost” by Morgan Blake. He picked up the phone and Olivia picked up the other line.


“Morgan, it’s your father.”

Morgan smiled and breathed.

“Hey dad, it’s been a while.”

“A few years.”

“Almost five.”

“Well your mom prevailed on me…”

“How’s mom.”

“She’s good and we’re good. I’ll understand if you’re still angry with me and…”

“Angry? I’ve been hoping for this. I’m glad you called. I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to…”

“It was my move,” William interrupted, “Your mom saw your article in that magazine and I called the office.”

“You know dad, it’s ok. We’re ‘baptizing’ our boy today.”

“Another Blake,” William said excitedly.

“Yeah, the name goes on.”

“We’re only a few of hours away. Had to get back to the East.”


“Go ahead Morgan.”

“Thanks for everything you did before I ever knew that you were doing anything for me. I know you did your best.”

“I, Morgan, I…” William’s voice trailed off and Morgan knew he was crying.

“I’m ok with everything dad.”

“Can we get together soon? Your mother would love to see you… and I would too kid.”

“Door’s always open.”

“What’s my grandson’s name?”


“After Dylan Thomas.” William finished, “perfect.”

“We’re in Conset Bay dad, had to get away.”

“I know about getting away.”

“I guess you do.”

“I’m not trying to get away from myself anymore.”

“Well good, your grandson’s going to want to have you around, all of you.”

“When will we see you?”

“Next week is Thanksgiving and Livy’s mother will be here. Why don’t you and mom come then? Just call when you get to the island.”

“Fantastic Morgan… we’ll look forward to it”

“Perfect… I love you dad.”

“I love you too Morgan.”

“Tell mom I’ll talk to her then.”

“See ya soon.”

“Yeah, see ya kid.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 33: Morgan’s Intro to the Premier Issue of SEA magazine

Peche du Cachalot by Ambroise Louis Garneray and Frederic Martens, 1835
Peche du Cachalot by Ambroise Louis Garneray and Frederic Martens, 1835

My search for cover art for this, the premier and winter issue of SEA took me to the East Coast, and more specifically the Old Dartmouth Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where I hoped to secure permission to reproduce “Peche du Cachalot.” I felt it would be perfect for the cover. It has a cold, wintry, blustery feeling indicative of the season and it conveys that same sense of the power and drama of the ocean which we hope to convey within the pages of SEA.

Of course I didn’t need to travel all the way to Massachusetts to obtain the photo-transparency but, having read Moby Dick when I was in college, and, having grown up in New England, I had a strong desire to return to my old stomping grounds and those of Herman Melville.

After stopping by the museum and taking care of the business of the cover art, I decided to head down to the waterfront to have a look around before making my way back to Boston and home.

The sun had set and there was very little light by the time I reached the shore. Wanting to get another look at the transparency (cover art), I quickly opened the envelope, perhaps to put myself in closer touch with the feeling of this place in Melville’s time. I reached in, and at the same time, a grayish cloud streamed out and curled down toward the ground. The cloud then took the shape of a person, a person from another time, a seaman from the nineteenth century. In front of me stood a young Herman Melville as clearly as Christ over the altar and as strange as it was, I wasn’t afraid. I could feel the presence of a warm soul.

Questions shot through my mind. Knowing that it’s the nature of ghosts to come and go as quickly as they please, I had to speak soon. Noticing that I looked slightly stunned, Herman introduced himself in his stately and dignified manner. Still not knowing where to begin, he began for me:

“I know that you’re one of my greatest fans and, being that you have set out to aid in creating the finest in ocean-related publications, I thought perhaps I might be of assistance in your endeavor. By the way, I managed to get a peek at the first issue. Not a bad start. We’re all very impressed up there… Dylan and Pablo send their best… You must have questions for me, fire away lad!”

“Thank you sir and… well… yes Mr. Melville, Herman… what drew you to the sea?”

“That, my son, is quite simple, and please,

‘Call me Ishmael… some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me,” * he paused, then said, I hope I haven’t been too long-winded.”

“No sir, that was perfect, thank you.”

“You’re welcome young man… is there anything else?”

“Actually yes… describe, as you see it, a perfect day at sea.”

“Hmm… as the editor of this fine publication you hold the responsibility of aiding your readers in grasping the overwhelming beauty of the sea so as to ensure a wider understanding of this part of the natural world and hence, to ensure its preservation. As surely as I now stand before you, I will oblige your request. Though apparition or phantom I may now be, I was once, physically, and am now, in the spirit world, a wanderer of the great seas. And though I now wander the seas of heaven, I can assure you that the seas I’ve ventured upon in this afterlife are no more or less fantastic than those I sailed on in my youth. My only wish is that I could be granted just one more earthly life so that I might appreciate better that which I once took for granted. But enough of my digression, you are a busy man, earthly time is short, and the tempers of men even shorter when forced to endure the digression of an old man, especially a dead one.”

“A perfect day at sea… ‘a clear, steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea are hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only the pensive air is transparently pure and soft, with a woman’s look, and the robust and man-like sea heaves with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson’s chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glide the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these are the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rush mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these are the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea.

But though thus contrasting within, the contrast is only in shades and shadows without; these two seemed one; it was only the sex, as it were, that distinguished them,’”* he paused, Good enough?’”

“Yes,” I said looking quickly at my watch. Time to go, I thought. And when I looked up to thank him, he had disappeared.

* passages from Moby Dick by Herman Melville reprinted courtesy of Penguin Books

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 31: Almost everything had fallen into place…

Loving Couple by Vickie Wade,
Loving Couple by Vickie Wade,

The painted desert can wait ‘til summer,

We’ve played this game of ‘just imagine’ long enough.

– Natalie Merchant 

Waiting. This time, hopefully. Waiting for a response to resumes sent to the islands two weeks ago in the hope of obtaining a position with one of the small publications based there. Things were different in the islands now, Morgan thought. They were opening more to the world, becoming more cosmopolitan and might offer an opportunity for a young family to realize their dreams. Life is good. Only better by hearing word from the islands. Sometimes I can feel them, taste them, smell them. Do the islands want me back? Life is good.

Morgan and Olivia had now been together for nearly a year. Their love was like a comfortable raft with one oar. And with only one oar, they had to take turns in maintaining a course. Almost everything had fallen into place.

She was able to wire her work so they could wander. And while wandering Morgan had written, written about her and the things they did, and wrote about what he hoped for.

“You’re the perfect compliment to my life.”

“And you mine.”

“Just after finishing with my therapist, I felt so completely whole. But there was this feeling, a yearning, a knowing that I could be more than whole and… well… you came into mind… and New York… the New Yorker and you’re ‘little bits.’”

“Bits and pieces… and peace.”

“Yeah peace.”

They both smiled.

“I love you.” Morgan said.

“And I you sweetie.”

Ticket To Ride, Book2, Chapter 30: There are a lot of answers…

Happy Coast by Debbie Miller,
Happy Coast by Debbie Miller,

What and where is America? (first draft)

by Livy Tinsley

Artists have long seen America as a retreat from the outside world, a quiet place where one can allow inspiration to flow. Spiritualists believe it to be “the promised land,” a spiritual center of the soul where the inner life can grow unhindered. Aging hippies, already drowning themselves in capitalism and BMW’s, have long since abandoned the idea of changing the collective consciousness of mainstream culture and have turned inward on some pseudo-quest for personal enlightenment. Red-necks think of America affectionately as a place made up of Oklahomans, where Men are Men and Women are Women, where that perverted foreign stuff is at a safe distance and a gun rack in the back window of your truck insures your status as a good red-blooded, right-to-bear-arms American. It’s got all the nobility of the “Grapes of Wrath,” sadly without the soul. Native Americans, well they’re not really here any more although we do like to use their imagery to paint our history. But since their voice is a very small one nowadays we need only to listen to it when it’s good for tourism. Newcomers to America often believe it fits with one of the pretty pictures they see through the eyes of one of the first two groups. And if their focus is narrow enough they’ll be able to hang on to this rose-colored glasses view for much of their time in America. One thing they can be sure of is that they’ll be speculated about by all the veteran Americans or should we say natives.

Other newcomers might see America as a great place to invest in land and property. Theirs is a black and white, unquestionable motive and deserves no further analysis. Vegans and vegetarians figure it’s a great place to preach and practice their culinary beliefs, all the time despising their less enlightened neighbors for partaking of the flesh. Within this group and perhaps within all of the groups that we will mention are the hypocrites, those who pay lip service to everyone else’s beliefs but have no rituals of their own. This subculture is the saddest because they are in a sort of of limbo much of the time, suspended animation, fearing being labeled as this or that, pigeonholed into reacting instead of acting.

But the question again is what and where is America?

To be honest I’ d have to say that America is all of these things and, at the same time, none of them. All of them because everyone here subscribes to this or that philosophy or non-philosophy. And none of them because these groups are purely images, cartoon caricatures of what it really is to be human.

The real problem with all of these groups is that none of them get along with one another. And that is a sad statement about “the promised land.”

There is an upside to this diatribe, hope. Because there are a few folks in this community who believe that being good and helpful and caring to their neighbors is important, a priority, there is hope. Yes they are the minority but if you look closely you will see one, no doubt smiling and chatting with another like-minded soul, giving them time to speak their minds and then responding with grace and understanding and truth, not filibustering and bulldozing with their own agenda. You might also see one helping an old lady cross the street, (an old idea, but still a good one) or giving an out-of-towner directions to the nearest gas station, or even offering a quiet warning to children playing too close to the street, even though they’ve been warned many times before.

This brings me to the final group in America and one who wears that word “hope” like a party hat. The children of America will see us through if we let them. Catch them when their not looking, they’re constantly performing great acts of goodness. Not all of them mind you, you have to remember that their parents fit into one of the other groups mentioned above and have already been working on their children’s heads, or just leaving them in front of the TV, guiding them toward their version of the light.

My guess is that if you were to ask the children what their hopes for America are, they would say something like: A place where the world might look to see that the “melting pot” wasn’t just an industrialists plot to lure poor citizens of the world into his factories.

All we need is a universal truth, one that binds us instead of dividing. Instead of asking, “what is it that makes me different from them, ask yourself, what is it that makes us all the same.

There are a lot of answers.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 29: O bla dee, O bla da, life goes on…

Bathsheba by Jeanette Gittens.
Bathsheba by Jeanette Gittens.

“O bla dee, O bla da, life goes on”

– The Beatles


Journal Entry, 5am

Trudy, we’ve been in Barbados for nearly a year now. We felt we had to get away from America for a little while.  The Republicans are coming back in and it’s anyone’s guess where the country is headed. Morgan’s been wrestling with something that happened between he and his father some years ago. He’s mentioned a bit of it to me. Father was a vet, Vietnam, and something about an uncle that had done some inappropriate things to him. His father was a real mixed bag when Morgan was growing up, part Ghandi, part Hitler, struggling to make peace with his past while also struggling not to let his past get in the way of raising Morgan. They had a blow out when Morgan was seventeen. Morgan split and went to school, wandered for a bit, got some therapy, then sought me out. He’s been wonderful except for this dad thing. We’ve spent hours talking about it and I think it’s pretty well sorted. I think they just need to talk. His friend Psalm died about the same time, some hippy trippy character. Morgan has a way with letting characters into his life. Takes them in like strays and becomes too attached.

I’ve just finished my most recent piece for the New Yorker. It’s a goodbye to America, at least for now. We just want to be neutral for a while and Barbados feels right. Wish you were here. Somehow I feel that you are and that you always will be. And because of this I believe I can, and need, to give myself fully to the land of the living. I’m signing off now Trudy. I’ll see you when my times comes.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 28: Mexican Wedding Cookies in the Sea…

"Untitled" Painting by Tristan Adams,
“Untitled” Painting by Tristan Adams,

Seychelles – Mexican Wedding Cookies in the Sea

by Livy Tinsley

Seychelles by way of Zanzibar. Serenghetti for Morgan on the way back but now Seychelles, sea shells, the Indian Ocean. French settlers, Arab traders came first, 16th century, Shakespeare writing while mariners comb the earth in search of some or other splendor. 1742, taken, possessed. By 1770 the fondling was over and Seychelles was permanently settled. From then, domesticated, and no longer anyone’s wild notion of an outpost, no longer free to be alone with God, islands tamed. And if taming wasn’t enough then came the blemishes; slave trade, convicts, a spice trade as hot as and dirty as drugs.

Brits and Frogs fought over her like schoolboys in heat. And such was a century when Seychelles was a speck of light in the empire of Victoria on which the sun never set. Following with the mother country slavery went by the wayside and the early stirrings of independence mirrored an America of two hundred years ago. With 1976 came the first of the republics. This year a new constitution established the current one-party regime, known otherwise as the second republic. A republic: country with a president, not a monarch. Monarch butterflies, the winds of change, states of flux, this century seems to pivot at this point.

1593km East of Kenya, 2813km South of West India and 925km Northeast of Madagascar. An archipelago like Mexican wedding cookies sprinkled in the blue; an expanse of ocean interrupted by Mahe and dozens of others. Grand Anse greeting the sweep of monsoon soldiers, watery swords of energy, slicing their way south. Playing limbo with the equator the Seychelles ducks the cyclone but welcomes its gifts in good form; open ocean swells in a soft, close air.

Coralline and low slung like a sway back horse, habitation on these parts of the archipelago is best for the native birds who ask little for their sustenance. Their granitic sisters reach 6-1000km’s and flow with streams sufficient for larger settlements of human beings; verdant with white sand beaches.

People. European, Asian and African, the “locals” are the descendants of the first French settlers, African slaves, British sailors and traders. Indian, Chinese and Arabians came later. They speak Creole, a dialectic French, eclectic and mixed with everything aforementioned. Money, one might think it Third World, but in the order of things folks enjoy a relatively high standard. Upper middle income in the center of the sea, paradise without hunger. Healthy, smart, and well-read with 70 years to look forward to, the people of Seychelles are accommodating and peaceful, given to kindness and warm like Grandma’s afghan.

Surfers first began coming here early in this decade.

Bali High  turned’em on. Jerry and the crew opened surfers to the idea to pushing beyond home.

“This is good stuff Liv, but before you go on, please don’t glorify surfers as a whole anymore. It’s tiresome and it just adds up to saying something like robbing banks is good if you’re as cool as Jesse James. There’s a lot of good to surfing but to try and raise the whole group to icon status is counterproductive. There’s a whole lot of idiots riding the coattails of men like Duke Kahanamoku and they don’t deserve it, and the Duke deserves a better legacy. People should be judged on a case-by-case basis. I understand you were getting stoked on something new but you’ve got to avoid being blinded by the false romance of it. Your editor will see it soon too. As soon as the adrenaline wears off.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 27: Rincon. Queen of the coast…

Rincon, Queen of the Coast by Rick Sharp
Rincon, Queen of the Coast by Rick Sharp

Journal Entry – Livy

Rincon. Queen of the coast. Two boards, Morgan and I. There’s a richness here, a spirit to this place, a feeling of greatness, or a feeling that being here is a great thing. I’m just going to stay in the cove. Morgan’ll go up to a place called “Indicators.” The waves begin to break from up there and wrap around like pliable firelight lapping along the edge of a cobblestone point; a spit of land that reaches out to sea and collects the energy from places north and pulls it in.

Wax clacks against cold fibreglass, waxing up. Smells like warm places, coconut. The cold here makes the warmer seem that much better. We’ll go. We’ll go and we’ll come. We’ll come and we’ll go.

Morgan left Livy sitting in the cove. He smiled then walked along a small strip of sand that led to the top of the point and the take off point for the more adept. Livy sat looking at the sea, waiting for the spirit to take her. When the ocean was ready for her she would know. Stretch, she thought, and began to reach toward her toes. Breathe and stretch.

In a few minutes she was ready and walked to water’s edge. The first shock of the water sent tingles.

“A bit chilly,” she said out loud, then pushed the board in front of her and jumped on laying down. She’d timed it right and made it past the point where the waves would begin to break, paddling as fast as she could. She sat up and looked around. How lovely it must be to live here, she thought, a sheltered corner of sea. The sea salt filled her lungs and as she breathed it deeply she looked to the horizon and saw a new set of waves coming in. A surfer paddled then stood up and she could tell by the style with which the surfer made the first turn that it was Morgan. He pulled high on the wave, anticipating the coming section, then dropped low, slowed a bit, and disappeared behind the curtain of rolling water. She counted: One, Two, Three, Four, Five.

“Wow!” she said out loud, pleased with Morgan’s good fortune. That section connected to another and then another until Morgan was right in front of her. He turned up and over the shoulder of the wave and smiled at Livy as he did.

“That was a beauty,” she said.

“Thanks Sweets,” Morgan replied, “catching any?”

“I’ve just paddled out.”

“Well get on it,” he said smiling, “we don’t have much sun.”

“I’m just taking it in. You just get back up there and leave me alone.”

“It is beautiful here isn’t it?”

“It is.”

“Barbados’ll be even better.”

“A bit warmer too.”

“A bit.”

“And we can stay a while.”

“Seychelles first though.”

“Yes Seychelles first…

A wave came to Livy now and she turned and paddled. She felt the rush of water beneath her and pushed up from her surfboard and came to her feet. Still awkward but getting there she slipped toward the bottom of the wave and dipped her head beneath the feathery lip as it pitched around her. She heard it sloshing all around her for a moment, slipped into a brief vision of tropical water, then got slapped in the head by the turning wave and rolled over into the shallows, spinning with it, then finding the surface. Her ears stung with the cold. She grabbed her board again and paddled back toward the horizon. In the distance was Ventura, and beyond that, Los Angeles.

“We’re in L.A. mum.”


“Me and Morgan…” Livy paused.

“Well sweetie… are you going to tell me who he is?”

“he’s wonderful mum. I can’t wait for you to meet him.”


“Well there’s another thing mum… I’m pregnant.”

“Oh how wonderful sweetie.”

“Yes, it is wonderful… he’s wonderful… and we’re in love.”

“Are you married?’

“Well no mum but…”

“That’s ok sweetie… as long as he loves you.”

“He does mum and we’re so much in love.”

“I’m so very happy for you. When will I see you?”

“We’re going to be traveling for a while… to Seychelles and maybe the Serenghetti… maybe toward the end of the year. We’re planning on being in Barbados by then and settling for a while… how does Thanksgiving sound?”

“That’s in November.”

“Yes… look it up on the calendar.”

“That’s a long time… but I will sweetie.”

“Please do mum.”

“I love you Livy.”

“And I you.”

“Well until then.”

“Yeah, ta for now mum.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 26: Let’s get out of here and get some waves…

Alsea by Brad Quist,
Alsea by Brad Quist,

They’d fallen asleep and the sun was going down behind the mountains. Still lying on the blanket that had served as a makeshift bed, they both turned to one another at the same moment and smiled.

“Plane doesn’t leave until 11, what should we do now?” asked Livy, getting up on one elbow.

Morgan reached to her and pulled her back down and kissed her.

“You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.”


“This is a beautiful place and we should never forget it.” Morgan said.

“It is getting a bit cold.”

Morgan held her closer.

“It’s always colder in the mountains,” he said.

“I love the mountains.”

“I know and I love them because you do.”

“Why don’t we head toward the beach?”

“It won’t be dark for a while and I’d like to try and surf Rincon before we leave California.”

“Let’s do it.”

“You are the most beautiful woman in the world, you know that don’t you?”

“You’re so sweet. I hoped, but I never knew there could be a man like you. I love that song you wrote. Maybe someone’ll record it sometime. Maybe you could.”

“I’ll never learn to play the guitar and I don’t know anyone who’s willing to work on it.”

“It’s a shame with all you’ve written that it’s not seen more interest.”

“It’s not that I haven’t tried.”

“I know.”

“I’m just glad I have you. Let’s get out of here and get some waves.”

“A sus ordeñes señor,” Livy said smiling, “Sweetie? Good news…  I think I’m pregnant.”

Morgan held her again, even more tightly.