Today on the blog w have author AK Taylor for an interview. Thanks' for being here AK Taylor. Let’s find out more about her and her writing.
Where are you from?
Typically speaking I am from the Georgia backwoods, but I now reside in the backwoods of Middle GA near White Plains GA—where we have big mosquitoes, seed ticks, chiggers, and rattlesnakes. It’s home to me though. In case if anyone is wondering, I do speak with a country accent.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing poems and short stories when I was about 8 years old. I was a natural worldbuilder before I ever learned how to write my name or learned my ABCs. The woods and the backyard had become many magical places with awesome adventures! Back then it wasn’t called “world building” it was called using my imagination or “pretend”. I moved on to novels at age 16—this is when Neiko’s Five Land Adventure was born. Escape from Ancient Egypt followed in behind it. That was the start of the Neiko Adventure Series and the birth of a teen writer. As for why, there are several reasons: 1) I did it as an experiment and to see if I could do it 2) I was socially ostracized and a social recluse in school, so I had to find something to fill the void and escape my miserable reality 3) A way to return to my childhood adventures in a new and “grown-up” kind of way.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I first started writing novels at 16. However, publishing and becoming a published author was a totally different story altogether. Back then it seemed like it would be impossible or extremely difficult at best.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Probably my pretend adventures in the backyard and the woods is #1 on the list. Plus, it was to write a book that didn’t exist at the time—this happened before the MG/YA explosion brought about Harry Potter and books like that. I stuffed my interests and other genres into the fantasy before that was cool.
Movies, video games, science, and art revolving around science fiction, fantasy, and adventure also inspire me. Nature is another inspiration.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I usually write in 3rd person. Most of the time I don’t like 1st person unless it’s done well. I am a very visual writer—that may be from my role-playing and artist background. It plays like a movie in my head and I can feel myself “there”.
How did you come up with the title?
For Neiko’s Five Land Adventure it wasn’t always called that. It’s too embarrassing to share *cough*. Escape from Ancient Egypt has always been the title for it. I usually try to sum up a book in some sort of catchy fashion. It takes some thought. If it sticks and I can “feel” the title, it works. That’s how it worked for both of these and for others. Sometimes tweaking may be required.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Probably first and foremost, self reliance, endurance, and never giving up. There may be others I had never thought about that readers can pick up on.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of Neiko’s experiences, as far as her “cover identity” are concerned, are bits from my life. The part about Neiko refusing to lay down her toys due to her advanced age represents the struggle I had as a teen with the transition from child to adult. My child life was better than my life as a YA/adult. Playing brought me comfort and escape, and I had to give that up—that was painful and hard. We also had moved to the suburbs, so the woods were gone. I was in panic in desperate need of a release/escape, and that’s when I discovered writing. My imagination nearly made my head explode, so I had to find an outlet for it. From Neiko’s POV, leading warriors and fighting wars at age 8 would have an impact on her life—she is doing grown up things as a child, and that does have an impact on a person. Either they won’t let go of their childhood like the characters on the Big Bang Theory (I wrote this book way before that show was conceived) or they revert to a child/teen at middle age (middle age crisis). There’s more to Neiko’s life than that. In a prequel I will go more into Neiko’s early years, but there are a few breadcrumbs in the books for the readers to pick up on.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques, The Shannara series by Terry Brooks, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Seriously, I don’t know. No one really had a direct influence on me and I read a lot of genres. I have met some really cool authors I call friends that I have connected with that I have learned different things from. I have a lot of influences but no one I can call “sensei”.
What are your current projects?
Book #3 Black Hand Vacation is awaiting edits, illustrations, and the works, so it’s next in line in the saga. I am writing Book #5 Trapped in Ancient Qari now. I am also working on a nonfiction book about bullying called Rising Above the Ashes which will be snippets from my life, poems, lyrical prose, and metaphors. I coauthored in a nonfiction project called Minding Your Business that should be out by October. I have a YA thriller series bouncing around in my head, but that’s on the drawing board. Just the other day a dream I had will be giving birth to high fantasy trilogy: the Light Sword Trilogy. Can’t wait to start it too.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
Other authors, friends, and complete strangers in the community I used to live in.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Aside from what I already mentioned, being able to plug in my high-powered imagination in another medium was just awesome and exciting to me.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes it can be wordiness and the –ly adverb itch, or unnecessary speaker tags. That’s stuff I work on during proofreading/editing.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Probably Brian Jacques. I love the way he does maps, the dialects, and the culture of different animals. His work appeals to the nature and fantasy facets of my life.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Presently, no, but I hope to some day
Who designed the covers?
I did about 85% of the work from drawing the character sketches and a schematic of how I envision the cover. The artist just puts it together and there is a little room for their individuality. For Book #3 I will be working with a different designer so we’ll so how it goes.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Probably the revision process for these books—to preserve and bring out the super cool story in these teen stories at the same time. I wanted to preserve my teen voice, but show my growth as a writer. From the reviews I have gotten so far, I have been able to be successful. It may not be the perfect book, but I did accomplish my goal.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It’s pretty simple then and now: Hey I can write a novel! And, I can do just about everything if I can put my mind to it. Of course, I didn’t know what a huge accomplishment that was back then; I didn’t find out until recently.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up and put out the best product you possibly can! You’re never too young to start.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t really follow a set pattern. I do most of my writing in novels during the afternoon and the evenings. Probably the spillover from writing after school after practice and homework in high school. When I went to work I still wrote in the afternoons when I worked the day shift and after a nap, I hated getting up before the sun did. I’m a night owl by trade and that has some to do with it too.
What was your greatest moment since becoming an author?
I have a couple actually. Holding my books in my hands for the first time after being on three different computers after 13+ years just about the way I envisioned them. The second was when I found out I won my first award.