Hello, for my first interview with a writer (that isn’t myself) I am interviewing the lovely Taylor Mae whom I stumbled across on Twitter months ago. She is always tweeting about her writing and we soon began chatting and sharing our love for writing. Taylor is one of the most motivated writers I know and I am very excited to be sharing this with you all!
1. Introduce yourself! Who are you? What do you write / what genre? What are you currently working on? Do you have any published works?
My name is Taylor (some call me Taylor Mae) and I am a seventeen-year-old student, reader, writer, and photographer in the lovely state of California. I also work in social media marketing, where I can bring my photography to life.
I’m currently working on a YA Speculative Fiction duology, however my future projects range from any and all genres within the young-adult and new-adult spectrum. But I will NEVER do erotica. That is, and never will be for me.
As of now, I do not have any published works. But I hope and pray that I will soon. *crosses fingers*
2. When did you first start writing and what motivated you to start?
I first started writing back in August of 2014 while I was in the midst of reading the Divergent series. At this point, I’d had these characters and this world in my head for over a year, but I didn’t have a place to put them. So while I was devouring these books, I decided to try opening up a word document and creating a story of my own.
The funny thing is, I used to despise writing and reading up until this point because I associated it with schoolwork. But after my sister inspired me to start reading and books urged me to try writing, I’ve been deeply in love ever since.
3. What inspires you to write? Can you tell us about the inspiration for any specific pieces of writing you have completed / are working on?
I would have to say I gather the most inspiration from music and photography, along with television and movies. I’m able to gather a sense of emotion and setting within the notes of music or the depths of ornate photography. Television and movies help me expand upon my ideas and visualize elements of fiction. I also like to take specific actors and actresses as a stencil for my own characters, someone to watch walk and talk in order to help me give more life to my characters.
For my current duology, I have a playlist of music for books one and two (book one; book two). I also have a collection of Pinterest boards, one for inspiration, and the other a list of actors and actresses that serve as character stencils. But I’m afraid that board is for my eyes only. *wink*
4. How important is the planning stage for you? Do you like to plan everything before you start or do you simply start writing with a vague idea in mind?
When it comes to my stories, I simply need to know how it begins and how it ends. I want the beginning to be impactful and show a contrast to the ending. I also want to know what I’m leading up to in order to avoid a rushed ending. So I do have a few main plot points that need to happen, but I leave the moments in between up to my mind and my characters.
I do think some form of planning is crucial for a writer, however I also think it’s important to listen to your characters, watch them come to life and tell you their stories. Writing should be a balance of planning and fluidity. I find that some of my best scenes were carved from the actions of my own characters, the raw words that poured from my fingertips as I watched and listened to them live and fall apart.
5. What is your writing process like?
For my first year of writing, I didn’t have much of a process. I would sit down and write when I felt “inspired”, which is the worst thing to do. Writing is a job of consistency, not inspirational bubbles that come and go.
So now, for the last year, I work off of a schedule. I’m in a private school, which gives me more flexibility than the average student. Each weekday (except Tuesday’s because of my new job), I place about 4+ hours towards my writing. I sit down in my lovely office space with my laptop and a fresh cup of water or tea at my side, along with the occasional square of chocolate. Then I grab my essentials, tune out the world, and let my imaginary world unfold around me.
6. What are your writing essentials / what do you use when you write?
Music is a must when I’m writing. It helps keep my mind in my own world instead of the one around me, as well as helping me dive completely into the mindset of my characters, into the serenity or chaos consuming the current scene. Many of the songs on my playlists are the core of certain scenes and ideas. In fact, the raw little scrap that this duology developed into all began after I heard “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons.
To keep myself focused and completely immersed in the stories and the music, I use an app called Forest. It’s an adorable app where you plant a digital tree for however long you wish. If you exit out of the app, the tree will instantly begin to die. If you plant enough trees and earn enough coins, you can actually plant real trees around the world. It’s a win all the way around.
7. What is your favourite thing to write? E.g. Dialogue, action scenes, saucy scenes…
Definitely not saucy scenes! Anything romantic can be quite awkward to write, especially knowing your family and friends are going to someday read those scenes. My duology doesn’t have much romance, so I can avoid that awkwardness … for now. I know the day will come when scenes such as these will have to be written.
But anyways, this is a hard question. I love the thoughts that come from the inner monologue of my protagonist, though I also thrive off of the words that bounce between character-to-character. They’ve made me laugh and cry and shake my head. So maybe dialogue? But action sequences are also a thrill to write.
If you love something, follow it with the whole of your heart. Don’t pay attention to words like “impossible” or “never.” These are only words, weak words that want to make you afraid. You must remain hopeful, live alongside your fears instead of allowing them to devour you. Hopefulness is not a weakness, it is bravery. You are brave. Believe it.
8. What do you think is the most difficult part of writing?
Everything? I mean, there’s so much that goes into it mentally and emotionally. Research has to be done, words have to be looked at again and again, sentences have to be formed and altered and cut to be made all over again. Writing, I’ve come to learn, can be as exhausting as any physical activity. It’s a lot of work, but I love this work.
Of course, it stresses me out. I have my doubts and worries often. Between being in limbo of the querying process for book one and expanding on a character who suffers from a mental illness in book two, I sometimes fall into bed doubting everything. I don’t want to lose an opportunity to work with a good agent because I made a few mistakes. I don’t want to misrepresent something so serious or offend anyone who suffers from a similar case, and yet I don’t want to shy away from certain topics out of fear. I want to explore issues of all kinds to raise awareness to myself and others.
Writing is a tough process. You have to be brave to go into a career such as this, but let me tell you this: it’s worth it. I’m not even a published author, but I can tell you that it is worth all of the stress and doubts, because writing helps us find the pieces of ourselves we may have lost or vied for. It makes us stronger and braver and wiser. I would not be the confident, independent woman I am today without following my passion, without watching my characters live and suffer. They have taught me everything, and they will continue to do so, always and forever.
9. It is always interesting to know what other writers listen to when writing. Do you listen to music whilst you write? If so, let us know some of the songs which have inspired you the most!
10. Do you ever struggle with writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
I don’t struggle with writer’s block, but instead suffer from doubts or lack of motivation. If I stay away from my stories from too long, I find my energy towards it fades and my doubts increase. This is why I recently had to go back on my schedule, because when I’m not able to write, I feel lost and stranded, without a compass.
But I’ve come to realize when I’m on a schedule, my doubts shrink and my passion blooms. Even if I’m not sure what to write next, I keep going. I listen and watch my characters. I write down all of their words and actions. Again, these are the raw scenes that I often love and remain even through rewrites. Some of it may have to be edited, but that’s okay. As long as I keep getting my words down, my heart is at ease.
11. How do you go about researching for a new book? Do you have any tips for others who are researching for a book?
Researching is one of my favorite aspects of writing, and also the most tiring. I’ve had to research a multitude of things for my current duology, ranging from weaponry to stab wounds to mental illnesses. If someone saw my search history, they would probably call the police. But this is where the perks of being a writer comes in and justifies my reasoning behind my crazy search history with the reply of, “I swear, I’m a writer.” *laughs nervously*
Anyways, I often go onto Google to search the basics of my questions. If I’m looking for more depth on the topic, I switch on over to YouTube and watch short documentaries or clips of things or people in action.
I’ve recently been enjoying CrashCourse, a channel hosted by Hank and John Green that delves into biology, literature, and psychology, along with a many other topics. I’ve always been intrigued by psychology and the human mind, and this channel gives courses on all forms of the mind that are both quick and thorough.
12. Where do you find your inspiration for character names and place names? Do you ever name characters after people you know?
When it comes to character names, they typically come from behindthename.com, a name generator. You can select a randomizer, or narrow down the names by ethnicity or their meanings. I tend to use the randomizer and narrow it down by race, but I’ve thought of other names from simply looking at the most random things. But the true struggle is deciding whether or not they should be used for my characters or my future children. *whispers* They end up going to my characters.
When it comes to the names of places, well that’s another story. I’m the worst at thinking of names for places. You want to know how I came up with the name for my fictional town in my current story? I kept pressing random keys until it started to sound like word that wasn’t complete gibberish. It took about thirty minutes, but I finally came up with a name that I was happy with, but I don’t know how I’ll cope in the future.
13. What are your future plans when it comes to writing or even publishing?
As I mentioned earlier, I have a YA fantasy project that I’ve been dying to start. After I complete the second book in my duology, I’ll get started on that. In the meantime, I’ve been querying my first book through June and July for an agent. I currently have three fulls and one partial out, so now I’m playing the waiting game (which is VERY hard).
If it’s a no from all agents, I’ll give my first book another round of edits and try again. If that batch isn’t successful, then I’ll save my duology for another day and start querying my next project. Writing is my true passion. It is my dream to become a novelist, and I am determined to make that dream a reality.
14. As we all love books I wondered, what are your five favourite books?
ONLY FIVE? This is like asking me who is my favorite character in my stories. UGH. Okay, alright. *sigh* Here are my top five (I guess) in no particular order:
- Divergent by Veronica Roth — the book that made me fall in love with reading and writing; the series that tore my heart into pieces.
- Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson — a Peter Pan retelling with a dark underbelly that is sure to leave a hole in your chest.
- The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson — a coming-of-age story with a hint of paranormal that will also break your heart.
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey — A historical tale in 1920’s Alaska caught in the heart of the wilderness that will definitely break your heart.
- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin — A brilliant epic fantasy written by an evil genius who will also ruin your life again and again.
There’s a reoccurring theme of heartbreak here …
15. Finally, where can we find you on social media?
You can find me on:
- Instagram – taylormaemarie_
- Goodreads – Taylor Mae Marie
- Twitter – taylormaemarie
- Pinterest – taylormaemarie
- Blog – taylormaemarie.wordpress.com
I hope you all enjoyed my first interview with a writer! Isn’t Taylor one of the most motivational young writers you’ve ever read about?! I’ll definitely be working on giving myself a writing schedule from now on. I will definitely be coming back to reread this in the future, her passion for writing is infectious! Although the urge to correct her American spelling was so strong throughout this post, but I manage to stop myself.
Make sure you check her out on social media and follow her blog, she recently uploaded this post with a writing update and sneak peek of her chapter 1.
Feel free to share or leave me a comment, let me know what you thought!