Skye Taylor, St Augustine Author
Skye Taylor, mother, grandmother and returned Peace Corps volunteer lives St Augustine Florida, soaking up the history, taking daily walks along one of the prettiest beaches and writing novels. She posts a weekly blog and a monthly newsletter, volunteers with the USO and is currently working on a new murder mystery series. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Florida Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime. Her list of published novels include: The Candidate, Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Healing a Hero, Keeping His Promise and Iain’s Plaid. Visit her at www.Skye-writer.com
NQ: Welcome SKYE TAYLOR. And thank you for taking the time from writing your current novel to spend a little time with us here at Words Count!
SKYE: Thank you for having me, Nancy. It’s a pleasure to be here.
NQ: Let’s talk a bit about your books before we get to KEEPING HIS PROMISE. I enjoyed The Candidate as well as all of the books in your Camerons of Tide’s Way series and I think that’s because they are so relevant. Sort of “Ripped from the Headlines” if you’ll pardon the cliché. They are also uplifting and engaging, but I they have a depth to them as well. What role do “headlines” play in plotting your books?
SKYE: In a romance, the main conflict is always between the hero and heroine, what draws them to each other and what gets in the way of their happy ever after, but these two people are “living” in a wider world than just their own and for the story to feel real and relevant for my readers I need to include that wider world. In the action/adventure genre, the story is all about “ripped from the headlines” themes like espionage, terrorism, politics, and war, and the personal lives turn out to be the secondary plots.
Sometimes when I’m faced with a hole in my plot or a sagging middle, looking beyond the story I’m writing to what’s going on around me in the news gives me great ideas for how to fix it. An example of such a problem I had in Healing A Hero was that I needed to figure out how my hero and heroine could have realistically lost touch with each other after a whirlwind romance that both felt was the beginning of a lifetime love affair. My hero was a Marine, injured and currently out of action so I subscribed to the Marine Times while I was writing this book to understand what the Marines were doing right now, where in the world and what my hero might be wanting to get back to once he got his medical clearance. Quite by chance, I read about a ship that was being decommissioned. Two men who’d been stationed aboard her were interviewed: one of them a Marine who was stationed on this ship in 2001 when it docked in Darwin, Australia. Most of the Marines and half of the Sailors were given immediate shore leave, but before this guy who was being interviewed could eat his steak at a local pub, MPs were running up and down the street ordering all the Americans back to the ship. When the bartender turned on the TV they all watched in horror as the towers in New York crumbled into the ground. The USS Peleliu was ordered out of port immediately and sailed for the Middle East. The Sailors and Marines on board were under orders not to call or email their families. That was my “Ah ha” moment. For four months these men were cut off from all communication from home. It was a real headline about the ship and the events of 9/11, and it was just what I needed to explain how Philip and Elena lost touch. While the military would have reassured the military families of their loved-ones’ safety, there would have been no way for my heroine who was not yet family to know what happened and she would have felt completely abandoned.
In KEEPING HIS PROMISE, relevant headlines play a different role. Every day we read in the paper or hear on the Evening News about immigration issues, another school shooting, homelessness, drug addiction, poverty and neighborhood violence. Everyone wants solutions to these problems, but the sad fact is most don’t want that solution to be in their backyard. Kate and Jon find themselves on opposites sides of such an issue – recidivism and youths in trouble with the law, and before they can find their own happy ever after, they need to come to a compromise on a project to help these young men turn their lives around. I feel like this kind of “ripped from the headlines” secondary plot adds to the depth of the main story by placing it in a world we are all familiar with and by showing the character and integrity or lack thereof in the people who populate this fictional world.
NQ: I get it. And I agree! Now, tell us about KEEPING HIS PROMISE – is that the last book in the series or will we get to meet more Camerons either in the series or elsewhere? I heard something about a mystery in the works. Is that true?
SKYE: When I was writing KEEPING HIS PROMISE, I thought it was the last not counting one already written about Cam and Sandy Cameron – the parents of Jake, Ben, Will, Philip and Kate which will eventually get published, but while I was in the midst of writing Kate’s story, a totally unexpected character appeared. He was so intriguing that it was clear his story would be fun to write, too. So while he’s not a Cameron, Lucas Trevlyn lives in Tide’s Way and one day I’m sure I’ll be telling his story, but at the moment the whispers you heard were true. I do have a new project going on. This time it’s going to be a mystery, hopefully, a series, starring Jesse Quinn a female, Deputy Sheriff assigned to investigating violent crimes in northeast Florida.
NQ: Well, I for one will keep a sharp eye out for the next Skye Taylor novel, I promise! Let’s chat a bit about you as a writer. Do your personal life experiences enter into your books or characters or is it all totally fabricated with no relationship to you and your life?
SKYE: My characters are mostly figments of my overactive imagination, but let’s face it, our life experiences can’t help but filter into the creation of our fictional characters. To start with, a new writer is often told, Write what you know.” Even in a historical, in a time and place the author can’t even visit, individual traits and humanity don’t change all that much. We still have family relationships, siblings we either get along with or fight with, co-workers, neighbors, parents, and kids, and a lot of that will color how we create our historical characters. I’ve had a more diverse career path than most but even I have to eventually start researching other jobs, and other lifestyles to keep my books from becoming the same old, same old. People watching is another way for an author to get ideas to make their characters different and fresh. People watching while waiting for a flight at the airport or in line at a grocery store is a great way to get ideas about how different people behave under different circumstances. Just watch the reactions when a flight is seriously delayed or canceled! So, while I might not be outraged and blame the agent at the desk others do and the way they treat the agent says a lot about what kind of person they are. Maybe an author has never been a parent, but seeing a distraught mother trying to cope with an overtired or spoiled toddler that was told no in a grocery store can give that non-parent author an education they personally haven’t had. An author can use this kind of secondary experience to add color and variety to the people in their books.
NQ: Do you have any unpublished or half-finished books? Do you think that you’ll revisit them and see them in print someday or are they totally off the board for you? I have two that I really should burn so that NO ONE ever sees them because they are so bad, but I’m not sure every writer feels that way. How about you?
SKYE: The very first book that I wrote, back when I was devouring Georgette Heyer, was a Regency Romance. It was written on yellow lined paper in pencil (long before we all had computers on our desks) and those old pages still reside in a file at the very back of my drawer, but will likely never see the light of day again. I have a feeling I would be appalled at how back it really was if I ever got it out. But I do have a couple other books that deserve to at least be read and considered for revision and publishing. I know a lot more about what makes a good novel now than when I began and some of the ideas/plots I had were good and just need to be brought up to speed.
NQ: On average, how long does it take you to write a book? Do you write every day and if so, how do you write? For a certain amount of time or words or pages?
SKYE: That’s an interesting question. I am always working on a book at some level, nearly every day. Even when I’m technically on vacation, a book idea might be rattling around in my head and I’m mulling over how to pull it together. My MacBook goes everywhere with me, even when those trips are only a week long to visit kids for the holidays. Sometimes I actually don’t work on the book on the computer, but the project is always on my mind. When I’m home I work on my writing every day. Researching a new book, background for one underway or actually writing, revising or editing. Once the fire is lit and I start a new book, I can finish the rough draft in anywhere between 30 and 60 days, but then the revising and editing begins. When I first started writing I wrote an entire 100,000-word book in 30 days that I thought was “done.” Now I know better. I might still get the rough draft done in 30 days, but there are always a ton of holes to fix, impossible stuff to get rid of, sagging middles to shore up and often whole new chapters to write.
NQ: I’m sure readers can get your books wherever books are sold, right? Can they find them in any of the local stores? If so, which ones? And where can readers find out more about you – maybe sign up for a newsletter or blog so they can keep up with you?
SKYE: I’ve had books in local bookstores, occasionally even in Barnes & Noble, but mostly they need to be ordered online or have a local bookstore order print versions for you. I donate copies of my books to my local library so they should be available there as well.
I have a website: www.Skye-writer.com where you can check out all my published novels as well as a series of non-fiction essays I wrote about my experience in the Peace Corps (2002-2004) that were originally published in my local newspaper while I was serving. You can also contact me via email on my website or sign up for my newsletter. I have a blog on my website where I write about writing and other things in my life – and I have a page where I review books I’ve enjoyed by other authors.
NQ: Thanks so much again, for being here with us today. And thanks for great books, too!
SKYE: It’s been a pleasure – and a lot of fun. Thank you for inviting me.