TWINSBURG — It started with a short story written in seventh grade.
Twinsburg native Matt Shore had written comedy material aimed at adults, but said his recently published novel, Travis & The Labyrinth, is "the first time where I felt like the finished product had potential to reach a wider audience and perhaps connect with people."
"This story, 'Travis & The Labyrinth,' is actually based off a short story I wrote when I was in seventh grade for a writing competition," said Shore, who works as a television actor. "My mom always loved the story, and it won an award at the competition, so it sat in the back of my head for a long time as something to revisit if I ever wanted to write something family-friendly."
Shore, who moved back to Northeast Ohio about four years ago after living in Los Angeles for a time, said his story features an orphan named Travis who meets up with a magical outlaw.
"Travis has to decide whether or not he wants to start a life of crime, even if it could potentially bring him good things," he said. "His life is so bad, but there's comfort in consistency, so he's torn between two choices, both of which have very bad downsides. A life of adventure, but being on the run from the law? It could be fun, but it could be deadly."
Eventually, Travis gets caught up in a scheme to steal a priceless artifact with ties to his parents.
"In order to get this shimmering golden sword, he'll need to make his way through a labyrinth filled with deadly traps, Shore said. "The message of the story is one of encouragement to anybody who's ever suffered or been through trauma. It's about finding a way to stay motivated and positive in spite of the hardships you may have suffered, without letting yourself become too cynical or hateful."
Shore, who went to St. Rita's School in Solon and graduated from Walsh Jesuit, said he had been working on 'Travis' for about three years.
"It's been a long road of drafts and missteps and weird ideas," he said. "I hope people who read the book enjoy the adventure as a way of losing themselves in some fun fantasy for a few hours, but I also hope they take to heart the message, that you don't have to be what the world wants you to be. That you can persevere and find a place for yourself if you just keep working."
Those who watch The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim might recognize Shore, where he has a recurring role as "a raving conspiracy theorist."
"I also had a bit part on Sam & Cat, the Nickelodeon show starring Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande," Shore said. "I also had a really weird role on a show called Tattoo Nightmares where I had to reenact a true story where a woman got a tattoo of a pig on her foot. That was pretty bizarre. Otherwise I did a bunch of commercials, videos for CollegeHumor and created my own content."
Writing and acting have appealed to Shore since he was a child, he said.
"There was a moment in college where I thought, my favorite show is The Simpsons and it's still on the air," Shore said. "Technically if I work hard enough I could maybe have a chance of working on my favorite show. And that sort of motivated me to keep working, even when it was hard. And it was a good motivator too, because I ended up meeting a few of the writers on The Simpsons as a result. I even got to visit the Fox Lot and hear them do live table reads of a few episodes."
In addition, Shore said he was working on "a couple of podcasts and scripts."
Shore said he would advise prospective writers to write every day.
"That way you're always chipping away at some project or other," he said. "The next best advice is to just finish the draft and don't worry about it being perfect. Take your time in revision and editing and have some readers you trust to give you honest feedback. The rest is just trial and error."
"Travis & The Labyrinth" can be found on Amazon, and is free with Kindle Unlimited, Shore said. He added that he anticipated the book will also soon be available at local bookstores.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC