The Deep End interview…with Taylor Grant

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jun 16, 2017   Blog   0 Comment
Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

 TG: I am an only child who was raised by a struggling single mother. She worked long hours, so I spent a great deal of time alone. I read a lot of comic books. They were my gateway drug into the world of reading. I bought as many comics as my paltry allowance would yield, and thus began my lifetime love affair with stories.

In addition, my mom was an avid reader and film-lover. We watched movies often, from Gone with the Wind to Sunset Boulevard to Casablanca. But she also loved horror, sci-fi, spaghetti westerns—you name it, we watched it. Some of my most cherished memories of my childhood were going to the matinee with my mom. It was these experiences, along with reading comics during my many hours alone that inspired my love of stories.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much of an impact TV shows/TV movies had on me as well.  Shows like The Twilight Zone, The Night Gallery, The Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker, and Star Trek made a huge impression on me. And I adored those wonderful 70s TV horror films like Gargoyles, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Duel, and Trilogy of Terror. 

During my formative years, I kept seeing the name Richard Matheson come up on many of the films and TV shows I loved, and that prompted me to seek out his prose fiction. I believe the first adult novel I ever read—when I was twelve years old--was Matheson’s I Am Legend. Soon after that, I read Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (whose name I also recognised from The Twilight Zone).  

After that, I was hooked for life. From that point forward, I simply couldn’t go back to reading Young Adult fiction.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

TG: I served in the military, where I received some journalism training, and had gone to a year-long trade school in radio/TV broadcasting. I moved to Los Angeles with the intention of working in radio and hoped to get some acting work as well.  This was before the Internet and getting information on the ins and outs of Hollywood was damned near impossible from my small town in Arizona.

When I arrived in LA, I had no clue, no connections, and a vague notion of being a disc jockey or an actor. But after a brief time in the radio industry, I didn’t find it as creative as I’d hoped. And I also had some disheartening experiences as an actor that turned me off to that aspect of the industry.

As often happens in Hollywood, I sort of “fell into” an opportunity to write some animation for television—and fortunately, all of that comic book reading combined with some writing skills I’d developed in the military gave me the confidence to get the gig. The story editors of the TV shows Beetlejuice and Little Rosey were happy with my work, and thus began my professional writing career.

Once I had a few professional TV credits, I decided to bail on acting and focus on writing.  Interestingly enough, it has now come full circle. Over two decades later, I have recently gotten into professional voiceover work, and it has become a part of my career.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelming, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

TG: I literally wept at my desk when I opened my first story acceptance. It was for a horror story entitled The Vood. Interestingly enough, at the time of my first acceptance, I had already spent almost twenty years working as a full-time writer (mostly screenwriting and copywriting), so I was already a seasoned pro. But this was different. It meant the world to me. Because it was my true voice.

What’s perhaps unique to my story is that I didn’t intend to be a published author. Several of my stories sat gathering dust in my drawer for years. I wrote them for me. I wanted to find my true voice. To write what I wanted to write—without compromise. For the joy of it.

It makes sense that those initial stories were dark fiction (horror, dark fantasy, sci-fi, suspense), because I grew up loving that kind of storytelling. When I began to have success selling my short stories, it was life-changing. It was the first time I had created marketable fiction, while also satisfying my muse.

Later, after two Bram Stoker Award nominations (one for my long fiction story The Infected, and the other for my collection The Dark at the End of the Tunnel), readers began to ask me the inevitable question: where’s your first novel?

I never planned to become a novelist. But now that I’m working on my first one—it all seems like it was meant to be.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

TG: I have been a full-time writer for quite a few years. I write advertising (TV, radio, web). But I also write in other mediums and genres (film, short fiction, comics, etc.), and there is definitely sacrifice involved. I don’t have much of a social life. I write fiction whenever I can find the time—and fortunately, my family is pretty understanding and supportive of that. However, while I love my son more than I can possibly express, the little guy has never been very good at “quiet time so daddy can write”. So, that’s another challenge. It’s very difficult for me to write at home. So, I have to go to coffee shops a lot—which isn’t ideal, but necessary.

On the other hand, I believe kids learn by example, not by what you tell them. And my hope is that my son sees how dedicated his dad is to improving his craft and working toward a goal. That he understands that I don’t let life’s many responsibilities stop me from manifesting my dreams. I hope this will instil the same kind of focus, commitment and dedication in him over time.

I’ve had a fair number of people say I inspire them (due to maintaining a day job, a family, and juggling a successful freelance writing career). And that, more than anything, means the most to me.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

TG: There is no question that Rod Serling had the single greatest impact—and his legacy continues to this day. I adore The Twilight Zone. I even turned my son onto the show. I admire that Serling explored the darkest aspects of humanity with a grand imagination and an earnest social conscience. Serling cared deeply about the plight of his fellow man. In my own small way, I have tried to keep some of that alive in my own fiction.

The Twilight Zone also introduced me to Richard Matheson. Serling and Matheson are pretty neck-in-neck as influences go, but I’d have to give the edge to Serling.

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

TG: The Infected.  It’s the most personal story I’ve written. The theme relates to the gradual (and subtle) act of giving up on one’s dreams—and the consequences of it. I also explored this theme in my story The Silent Ones.

People living in quiet desperation are all around us, and it pains me greatly to see it. I find it heroic when people rise above their 9-to-5 routines and continue to follow their dreams and aspirations.  Not that there is anything wrong with a 9-to-5 job. Providing for ourselves and our families is to be greatly respected. And I mean that, sincerely. But when we use our jobs as an excuse for not doing things we love—that’s when the downward spiral begins. That’s when people die with the music still in them. It’s heartbreaking.

I was incredibly pleased that The Infected was published by the great Cemetery Dance Magazine, and eventually nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

TG: I once tried writing to a word quota—but that doesn’t work for me.  I now believe that writing takes the time it takes. Not a moment sooner or a moment later. We live in goal-oriented culture that robs us of enjoying the process. Not just in writing—but in everything we do.

Goals are good. But they are only the rudder. Being present. Enjoying the process. That’s what’s important. If that’s 50 words or 2,000 words isn’t the point. The point is to be present. Enjoy the process. Because we never “arrive”. If you simply focus on the goal, you miss the beauty of the journey.

Obviously if I’m on a tight deadline (due to a contract) that’s a bit different, but I still try to focus on the work, not the word count. But when I’m creating something on my own, then I don’t force a number of words. If I have written 10 sentences and I was fully engaged when I did it, I have accomplished my task for the day.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

TG: Sex. All of the euphemisms just seem silly to me. 

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

TG: I do have to work at staying present. Don’t we all? My goal (and a challenging one) is to be fully engaged in whatever I’m doing, not just writing. When you’re present, you’re not listening to those thousands of random thoughts. I believe it makes for a better quality of life.

However, when I’m driving, walking for any length of time, or in the shower, I allow my mind to run wild with story ideas. Most of the best stuff has popped in my head during those three activities.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

TG: I sold a military thriller (screenplay) called Bloodland.  While I was researching military signals intelligence, I met a guy on a military forum named Dave Reese. He helped me immeasurably with my research. Fifteen years later, we’re still in touch. Just a great guy.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

TG: Perseverance in the face of adversity. Sticking with something despite the odds, despite the rejection, despite painful feedback—this is the greatest gift I’ve received as a professional writer.

Joe: How did being an author change you as a person?

TG: It has made me more patient. As the axiom goes, a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

TG: After reading The Infected, a woman I know was so moved by my story that she packed up and moved to Hawaii to pursue her dreams.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

TG: To be authentic. To enjoy the work. To enjoy the process. To keep improving.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

TG: To inspire others to action.

Taylor Grant
The Dark End at the Tunnel

The Dark End at the Tunnel

Genre: Collection

Offered for the first time in a collected format, this selection features ten gripping and darkly imaginative stories by Taylor Grant, a Bram Stoker Award ® nominated author and rising star in the suspense and horror genres.

More info →
Buy from Amazon
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Horror 201: The Silver Scream
Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

Tales from the Lake: Volume 1


Dive into fourteen tales of horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world.

More info →
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Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Fear the Reaper

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