John Taylor is a writer, musician, wine geek, sci-fi nerd and Certified Master of Failure & Redemption. A graduate of the USC School of Journalism, John threw his education out the window to become a founding member of the alternative rock band, The Uninvited. The band enjoyed about nine minutes of its allotted fifteen minutes of fame, including a release on Atlantic Records, movie & TV soundtracks, and an on-going appearance on that “One Hit Wonders of the 90’s” station your coworker listens to incessantly.
After a brief but horrifying stint in real estate in the early 2000’s, John got wise and made a day job out of his favorite hobby – wine – and has held various sales & marketing positions in Napa Valley since 2011. John’s writing career started in earnest at this point, with blogs, essays and short stories appearing in various online and print publications. The father of three adorable kids and one annoying cat (and sometimes vice-versa), John lives in the Bay Area of California. You can read more of his musings at www.pairswithlife.net.
It’s Sunday. Do you know what that means? It’s interview day! Let’s read, learn and connect with this year’s fantastic bunch of writers, editors and agents. Next up: new author John Taylor on his debut novel, PAIRS WITH LIFE, out September 2020.
John’s Advice for Writers
I honestly don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice on writing or querying or any of it. But I will say this: dig deep. Write with absolutely brutal honesty. Even when you’re lying, be completely honest. Put all of your love and heartbreak and life lessons and tragedies and anxieties and wisdom and doubt into your characters, even if you’re writing fantasy. People read books to see how other people solve their problems. Readers want to say, “Oh my god, that’s me” when they read your book. So, expose yourself. It’s really tough, but look on the bright side: you get paid so much to do it…
The other answer relates to a story from when I was with the band. We were on tour, opening for the Violent Femmes, and our self-titled debut had just been released. Sales were meh, the tour was grueling, we were being paid $75 a night, and five of us were sleeping in one room in a Motel 6. It was 3 in the morning, and I was filled to capacity with doubt and anxiety about whether any of this was going to be successful.
I was on AOL Messenger, talking with a friend back home (Goggle it, kids), when suddenly this message pops up: Hey i think this is your account but i dont know but i just wanted to say i was going to kill myself tonight but i listened to your record and decided not to.
THAT is success.
After that, I dove into KM Weiland’s story structure and character arc books like a madman, as well as Robert McKee’s amazing “Story” textbook. Then I started writing Pairs With Life. I guess the short answer about learning is that I am not a pantser.
Since finishing PWL, I have completed another manuscript, Tiffany & The Nightmare Hunters, which I co-wrote with YA Goddess J. Edwards Stone.
When an agent finally made me an offer, I was working in an office in the backroom of a tasting room in Napa. I lost my s**t, of course, and ended up running a victory lap around the parking lot like some kind of drunken idiot (even though I waited until that night to get officially drunk). That said, things did not work out with the agent. After a year, he could neither get a yes nor a no from his submissions, which I guess is a thing that happens. So, we parted ways amicably.
I submitted myself directly to Hurn Publications, and they offered me a contract. It was a weird path, but it was my path, and my path has historically been relentlessly weird.