Well, today we have a treat! Robbie Taylor, science fiction and fantasy writer and play-write, joins us on Dropped Pebbles! I hope you stick around to meet this extremely witty and multi-talented guy (karaoke singer!!) and check out his books. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Welcome, Robbie. Can you start us off by telling us a little about yourself?
I was born & raised in Texas, in the home town of Texas A&M University, which I also attended after a minor detour through Austin to go to that other school, as we Aggies refer to it. 🙂 I’ve been married for 16 years, and have two wonderful daughters. My day job is in the IT field, which I hope to abandon soon, as, like many computer professionals, I hate computers and view them as instruments of torture set upon us by deviant and sadistic men.
Amen, brother! lol
What other art genres are you interested in? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?
While writing is my first love, but I also act and sing. I met my wife through karaoke, in fact 🙂 I write because I enjoy creating new worlds and experiencing the lives of the people inside them. You can get into another person’s head when you’re acting – when you write, you can experience a whole community. Like Sagan said, books are proof that humans are capable of magic. When my enthusiasm flags, as it has a time or two over the 38 years I’ve been writing, I like to go over the unsuccess stories of famous authors, and draw hope that mine will top all of theirs.
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
I started out writing short stories, then I wrote several plays and a book when I was a Theatre Arts major in college, then I stumbled into flash fiction with my web site Today In Alternate History. It was sort of Night Vale before Welcome To Night Vale existed. Out of that, I have now become comfortable with the short novel, usually running between 60 and 80 thousand words. I prefer science fiction and fantasy, but I dabble in mainstream, too, usually with characters that are WAY too close to people I know. As far as never writing… hmm, since I’ve had ideas for everything from mysteries to erotica, I can’t see anything I’d never see myself writing. Everything interests me, so I can see myself writing anything.
To you, what makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
I like good dialogue, and a story that keeps me interested, even if it’s not necessarily moving along. I don’t mind a slow pace, as long as the people or things I’m reading about are interesting. I’m one of those weirdos who enjoyed The Silmarillion over The Lord Of The Rings. As for bad books; well, there’s this 50’s sci-fi novel I read that I thought was absolutely horrible, and I have resolved never to use southern stereotypes if I can help it, as a consequence of reading that book. Or female stereotypes. Or horrible, horrible cliché dialogue. God, it was bad.
You’re not alone. The Silmarillion is my all-time favorite book.
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I think that naturalistic, crisp dialogue is crucial. I have to tear myself away to provide descriptions just because I prefer writing dialogue; stems from my theatrical background, I guess.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?
I usually cite three writers – Douglas Adams, because I love humor, particularly the British variety; Stephen King, because Rita Hayworth & The Shawshank Redemption taught me patience; and Barry B. Longyear, because he wrote the best science fiction novel ever, Sea Of Glass.
What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)
This is gonna sound snobby, but I think that SF/Fantasy is just plain better than any other fiction. I’ve got a few mainstream novels or other genre novels that I’ve enjoyed, but I find that the quality of SF/F writing is higher than in other genres and mainstream fiction. The public is catching on to that in the movies – look at the highest-grossing films, and you will find a plethora of SF/F. The literary side has had its ups and downs, but it will always be there, because people can’t help but dream.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
I currently have 6 works for sale, 5 novels and 1 short screenplay. The screenplay is from a TV contest on the Bravo network where they tried to find an original sitcom to produce – mine is a talk show of the future, with aliens, clones and various other bizarre guests.
My novels are Warp, a police procedural that’s sort of Alien Nation in the 19th century; Before/After, an alternate history of the 2004 election with some really sore losers; Hope, a mainstream story about not making it in New York, but having success and happiness dangled tantalizingly in front of you; The Tree Of Knowledge, the first book in a trilogy about a young witch who discovers she is a powerful seer who is destined to save the world, at the cost of her father’s life; and my most recent release, The Lascaux Nightmare, a horror story about the famous cave paintings and what was awoken when they were found.
I’ve got three things I’m working on for release this year. The first is a collaboration with my best friend, mystery author George Wier. It’s called The Vindicators, and it’s going to be a serial of novellas about youthful defenders of Earth. That should be out in October. In late November, early December I’m going to be releasing the sequel to Tree Of Knowledge, The Ring Of Stones. And I have something called my 250 Word Project, which is too complicated to explain here – people are going to have to go to my web site to read it 🙂
Wow! You’ve been busy! Congrats on completing so many interesting projects.
Why is that important to you to promote other writers on your blog?
Especially for people who go the indie route, it is VITALLY important that we support each other. Who else can we turn to? Who else really gets us? Helping get the word out about other authors helps expand the community, and that is good for you, and it’s good for readers.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
Promotion. I need a better class of friend, because the thousands I’ve got on my social media don’t like to buy my books. They sure like other people’s books, though. Traitors.
Um, er, ah…next question…?
Who are your favourite writers and why?
Barry B. Longyear, whose imagination is incredible and awe-inspiring. Roger Zelazny, who brought a poetry to his writing that SF/F had never seen before. Douglas Adams, because I subconsciously imitate his humor in my best moments.
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?
If you want to make a living at this, you might want to try your hand at writing mysteries or romances, because they will sell. If you want to write what you love, be sure to write books that you yourself would want to read, and then try to find people of like minds to promote them to.
How can readers get into contact with you?
Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about yourself and your work, Robbie. It was great to learn more about you–I hope you let us know when your album of karaoke classics is released. 🙂 Readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview and will take a few minutes to catch up with Robbie at one of his links.
Have a great week!