K.J. Taylor

Read more about K.J. Taylor.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: December 13, 2010

K.J. Taylor's Web Site

Shop K.J. Taylor's Books


The Dark Griffin, a fantasy book published by Ace in the US and Canada on the 28th of December. The sequels, The Griffin's Flight and The Griffin's War, will follow in February and March. All three are already published by HarperCollins Voyager in Australia and New Zealand.

Please tell us your latest news!

I've just recently been given a deal with Voyager to publish my next three books. They follow on from the first trilogy and are titled The Risen Sun, The Reigning Sun and the Setting Sun (those titles may be changed later).

I was also recently bitten by a Staffordshire Terrier, and my arm is still a bit stiff.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

If by latest you mean most recently published, then that would be The Griffin's War.

If I could change anything, I would put in more description. I have a terror of boring readers with too much description of landscapes and such, but I think in War I perhaps took it too far, as a couple of readers asked me to describe things more. I can't change that now, but I took it on board for future books.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I'm a big fan of George R R Martin. I like it how the morality in his world is realistic, without clear-cut villains or heroes. Everyone is fully developed, and you can root for whoever you like, or just root for all of them! I also like how he uses realism, and doesn't resort to magical solutions or unlikely coincidences to make his plots work out.

When I was younger I thought stories had to have good guys and bad guys. Later on I derided fantasy as a whole for relying on that and other more obvious cliches. G.R.R.Martin showed me that I was wrong.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think so, but every author does. I aim for documentary realism in my prose, but my style tends to have something of a cynical edge and even turns outright sarcastic at times, which must be my own particular voice showing through. I like it that way; no story should be told with %100 deadpan seriousness all the time.

Do you see writing as a career?

Maybe for some people! But if you're not a one-in-a-million overnight success with the press fawning all over you, you'll have to spend a long time building up to it. In some cases, a lifetime. I would like to write as a career - and by that I mean an occupation that I can live off. But I think I'm in the second category, and I'm more than prepared to spend a lifetime if that's what it takes. It's not that the good things in life should take a lot of hard work, but working hard for anything makes it more worthwhile.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I've always liked stories in any format - movies, games, books, whatever. Writing is just one way of telling those stories, and one of the easiest to get into, since you don't need money, or even any real help to do it.

I think I first started getting interested in making my own stories when, as a child, I watched or read other stories and started wishing they turned out differently. When I watched The Secret Garden movie and the child's doll gets thrown into the fire, I wished that I was there in the story to rescue it.

I think that's how everybody starts out; they get absorbed into a particular story, and start wishing they could control it or change it in some way. It would explain why just about all of us start out by writing fanfiction. Or, if not fanfiction, then unconscious ripoffs of stories we enjoyed.

(Go on. Admit it. You did that once. You know you did).

Do you have any advice for other writers?

No. I've tried advising in the past, but nowadays I think the best way is to leave it be and let other people go their own way. Most authors are fierce individuals, and people like that don't want to be told what to do. I know I never have.

But if you insist, here is one piece of advice: do not use a thesaurus. I don't care how small your vocabulary is; if it's your story, it's good enough. Big words won't magically make it better.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

They're all very proud and like to hear my latest news. Some of them read my books and others don't, but I always say that knowing me personally doesn't mean you're obliged to read my books. Read them if you're interested, and I won't mind if you don't.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

No way! I could never spend all day writing. Writing is fun and it's what gives me purpose in life, but it's not living. Even if I were making a squillion bucks off it I'd still want to get out in the world and do other things. Besides which, keeping myself busy is what gives me the energy to write. If I have nothing to do, I get bored. And when I'm bored, I can't write and I quickly stop trying.

I started writing while I was in highschool, and published my first novel in my last year, when I was 18. I signed another publishing contract while at university. So my previous occupation was "student". Also "angry teenager", but that's pretty much par for the course.

I work for the local after school care program, looking after other people's kids. But next year I'm going back to university to do a Master's degree, so I can become a librarian. I don't resent having a day job. If I didn't, writing would feel like work. And that would suck.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I used to make it up as I went along, but nowadays I outline. But not on paper. I only outline in my head. The outline usually starts out pretty roughly; I know where it starts and where it ends, and I have a general idea of what happens in between. The rest fills itself in as I go. But while I'm writing I always think ahead, so I almost never write "blind". When I get to the end of what I've mapped out, I stop and think it over for as long as I have to, until I've got the next bit sorted out.

Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it. (Pen, Coffee Cup, Pet, Blanket, Chair)

I don't have any at the moment, but when I had pet rats I used to sit one or more of them in my lap while I worked. I liked the company.

My last two rats died, but I'll be adopting another one in a few weeks. I sometimes think that if muses exist, mine must be a rat.

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example..get coffee, blanket, paper, pen and a comfy place

I always write at night - it's very rare for me to write during the day. I generally start a bit after midnight (after I've read the latest article on Cracked.com!). I switch all the lights off except my desk lamp and the colourful leaf-lights over my bed, put my headphones on, choose some music and get to work. And if I haven't fetched a rat out of the rat cage yet, I do that as well.

What main genre do you write in?

Science Fiction / Fantasy

Thanks for letting me a part of your site, and I hope my ramblings entertain someone!

Also, anyone who likes violence, murder and griffins, or who is just plain bored of heroic protagonists, may like to check out my books. I set out hoping to write something for those who are after something new, and I hope I succeeded. But when all's said and done I wrote what I wanted to read, and that's the best any of us can do.