HI! I’m Travis
First things first, I do not go by “T. A.” I simply use that penname so you don’t confuse my fiction with my non-fiction books published under my full name.
Believe me, if you’re looking for a rousing fantasy tale, How to Apply for a Spouse Visa for Japan: The TranSenz Guide probably isn’t what you want. (Bio spoiler alert: My wife is Japanese and we live in Japan.)
Good? OK, on with the bio.
Life, in Brief
I was born Travis Gramkowski in December 1982 in Edgartown, Massachusetts and grew up reading everything I could get my hands on – down to every word on the back and sides of cereal boxes – and was rarely without a book or three in progress.
First Bite of the Travel Bug
Determined to find adventure for myself, I signed up for a year abroad during high school. The program didn’t let me choose the destination country, so a few months later I found myself in Japan with barely enough language ability to ask for directions to the toilet. It became one of the best experiences of my life. (Living in Japan, that is, though Japanese toilets are, in fact, awesome.)
The year in Japan, living with host families and experiencing a completely new culture and language, was the adventure of a lifetime. It inspired a love of history – which, done right, is really a bunch of stories based on actual events – as well as a budding interesting in writing. The latter came in the form of travelogues, hastily typed and sent during my 10-minutes of dial-up internet access each week. Ah the good old days.
Fueled by a newfound love of travel and the desire to return to Japan, I enrolled in the US Air Force Academy. An Air Force career, I figured, would be a great way to see the world and in June 2001, it looked like the US wouldn’t be going to war any time in the foreseeable future.
I studied History and Asian Studies at the Air Force Academy, deepening my love for story (and loathing for English classes). I graduated with a five-year service requirement, but the Powers That Be offered me the chance to spend the first two years in a Master’s program with the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii.
If someone offers to pay you to spend two years studying in Hawaii, you say yes before they finish the sentence, so I did. Thus began the second in the series of “best experiences in my life.”
At UH, I again studied Asian studies, with an academic concentration in Japan, and extracurricular concentrations in surfing and golf. Despite the temptations of beach and fairway (OK, OK, I never saw the fairway), four years of Academy discipline didn’t completely die and I was able to finish my degree on time.
More importantly, I met my future wife there just before I graduated, and started a long-distance courtship that would take us separately to four and a half countries over three years before we were finally reunited and married.
While my bride-to-be stayed in Hawaii to finish her degree, the Air Force sent me to Texas (the half-country referenced above – if you’ve been there, you know what I mean) next for Intelligence School.
I could tell you about it, but then I’d have to kill you.
After Intelligence School, I got the posting I’d wanted from the day I decided to join the Air Force: Back to Japan. Although my future wife was still in Hawaii, I spent the next year in Misawa, Japan, renewing my love for the country, but also quickly kindling a distaste for the 12+ hour days chained to a desk that defined (ch)Air Force military life.
Sent to Afghanistan the next year, I got my fill of the military that appears in novels. I had the pleasure of spending 9 months on a small outpost in a forgotten corner of the country, where the Taliban ruled and the Afghan government I was there to support was the unwelcome “invader.”
On one hand, I experienced the close bonds of a small force in hostile territory and made some lifelong friends. On the other hand, I discovered an acute dislike of being shot at and a burning distrust of the military and political leadership. The latter was stronger and a month after leaving Afghanistan, I had worn my uniform for the last time.
And Back Again
After Afghanistan, I moved to Thailand, where my wife had been working, and took a job teaching English. We were reunited, married, and finally returned together to Japan a year later.
I now live in Akita, Japan, and work as a student exchange program coordinator by day. Outside of work, I spend my time with my wife and three beautiful children, so you’ll almost always find me where there are places for kids to play.
Oh yeah, and I write. But you probably figured that out already. If you want to know more about that, and my books, sign up below!