Today on the blog we have A.K Taylor for an interview. Sit back and let’s get to know this wonderful author.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Probably in some ways I did. When I was introduced to writing at age 8, and when I learned how to read, I thought it would be cool to write a book. Becoming a published author was a different story altogether though—I once thought it was extremely hard or nearly impossible. I was only a teenager when I wrote my first book, so what did I know about publishing? That’s right, not a darn thing. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a career really. I had a couple ideas, but nothing concrete. I mainly wrote for fun, and for sometime it was a private hobby.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I considered myself “hardcore” when I wrote my first novel Neiko’s Five Land Adventure at 16. I always liked writing, but I was often too busy going on adventures in the woods earlier in life. Like I said before, I never saw myself as a “professional” writer, just the secret hobbyist. I felt like the professional writers would think my writings and sketches were stupid and immature, and they wouldn’t touch anything written by a backwoods teenager with a 10 foot pole. Going pro was the last thing from my mind. Well let’s just say life is full of irony…
How long did it take to get your first book published?
It took me about 13 years, but I suffered a setback with a predatory publisher so I had to republish. It was worth it though, I guess, considering all the things I learned in the wake of that mistake and all the amazing people I have been able to meet and connect with.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I started a new business this year: Soaring Eagle Publicity, which I aim to help other authors with publicity and affordable advertising and social media. I work with Rachel Thompson on the Indiebookpromo team on a volunteer basis running the YA blog. I used to work for an analytical lab, but that job was claimed by the recession in 2010.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The next in line to be published is Black Hand Vacation. After 25 years the Black Hand is stirring once again and Neiko’s enemies are closing in on her. A normal vacation? Yeah right.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I am self published—I just hire companies and professionals to help me with design and distribution.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It depends on the length of the book and what is going on in my life at the time. It can take 4 months to a year. I can brainstorm and make a basic plot but I have enough of the panster in me to be unable to tell you how long the book is going to be. In case you haven’t noticed I’m a planster—a hybrid.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
You can expect more books from the same genre as well as books in different genres. I have many more coming in the Neiko Adventure Saga. Not too long ago I have an idea for a high fantasy trilogy called the Light Sword Trilogy. I have plans for another nonfiction book about bullying called Rising Above the Ashes. Ideas for some YA thrillers are on the drawing board. I will eventually delve into horror, paranormal, and hard core scifi at some point. I will ALWAYS stay in the young reader group; I suck at writing for adults. I’ve been writing for young readers since I was a young reader so it’s too hard to change.
What genre would you place your books into?
For the Neiko Saga? Fantasy Action Adventure. As for what kind of fantasy, I’m not going there because it isn’t a pure form of anything. So we’ll just leave it at fantasy. Book #2 Escape from Ancient Egypt can fall into the historical fantasy category well.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I have always enjoyed fantasy, but I wanted to do something different at the same time. Pieces of other genres (thriller, paranormal, science fiction) have found their way in. You can fit these in a fantasy easier than the other way around.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I would guess Neiko, the MC. We have so much in common. I love her quick wit and her ability to not take crap from anybody, including a very famous Egyptian Pharaoh or an immortal dark entity. She gets to do things I dream of doing.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
In general about 8 years old doing short stories and poems. Novels came around at 16. So, I’ve been writing about 25 years and pretty much self-taught; I’ve been a novelist for 17 years. Publishing is relatively new. I have met a couple people who have taken time with me to whittle my craft a bit more which is all part of the gig. When I was a kid, being able to plug my high-powered imagination into something other than play was inspiration enough. When I was a teen my pretend adventures in the woods and backyard, movies, art, video games, nature, science, reading, and music all serve as inspiration as well as the fleeting thought or even a dream. What pushed me over the edge to become a teen novelist was my crappy high school social life and bullying. Nintendo and homework can only go so far and my imagination was running out of my ears. I had to find an outlet or grow another head. Writing was that outlet, and it seemed easier and a lot less painful than growing a second head.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Not really. I go out of town a lot, but I always try to find a spot that’s quiet and comfortable. I do my best writing in the afternoons and evenings. For one, I am a night owl, and secondly, this is probably a spillover from having to write after school or after homework. I hated it if I was loaded up with homework and I had a cool new idea I wanted to write. I brainstormed a lot while sitting alone at lunch or when other people were socializing and leaving me out. Needless to say, I was ready to write when I got home after school or band practice.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do. I do take a moment to see what thoughts someone took the time to share. I do talk to people on social media who reach out. I don’t have a lot of fan mail right now since I am still an emerging author.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I try to choose a working title first and then write the book. I weigh the title after I finish the rough draft and see if it still fits with the flow of the story. Sometimes it needs a bit of tweaking or “I’m just not feeling it”. Every once in a while I’ll need a hand.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
They seem to come from different places. Something may just come to mind. I may have seen that name somewhere before and I think it sounds cool. Others come from manipulation of words from English or other languages or words from other languages. Of course I hold the name up to the character and see if it fits and if it reflects his/her character or the place.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
This sort of depends. It actually happens both ways for me believe it or not. Some things come together faster than others. Sometimes I can have the character mapped completely out except for the name if I have a bit of a time finding/thinking of something that fits. The same can be true of place.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
This is also sort of both for me and more evidence of a planster. For main characters and the major supporting characters, I build the characters first since they will be driving the story from the plotted-out point A to point B. Minor characters are more “as I go along” type thing—the person the main character needs help from at a certain point in time or the passerby or whatever.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Mostly on the lines of never giving up no matter the foe or the odds. You may have to rely on yourself and your wits to get out of a bind or sustain until help comes. Have friends you can count on.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I prefer either paperback or ebook—both have their pros and cons. I’m not fond of hardbacks because they’re heavy and expensive, and I have to fight with the dust jackets (for those that have them).
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
Redwall by Brian Jacques. I have probably read it about 4 or 5 times. I like Haunted Island by Joan Lowery Nixon; it was my favorite MG book. I’ve read it about 7 or 8 times. My favorite children’s book is Max the Bad Talking Parrot, but I don’t remember the author (that was a long time ago now). I read it about 3 or 4 times, and I remember a couple of the characters and a couple of the lines—they were just so funny.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
I believe they can, but just sometimes it just doesn’t happen for whatever reason. It’s when they deviate too far from the original book, and why they do that I don’t know. I would think my favorite transfer would be the Harry Potter series.
Your favorite food is?
Chocolate—the more in a helping and the darker the better!
Your favorite singer/group is?
I like Linkin Park, Godsmack, Creed, and Nickleback. I listen to other music types as well from country to classical. Considering where I grew up I listened to a lot of country.
Your favorite color is?
I like just about anything except pink (my tomboy’s showing, I know) and Barney purple (I hated that show with a passion). Black, camo, brown, and army green are my favorite to wear.
Remember to check out today’s spotlight to learn more abut Neiko’s Adventures.